The Policy & Practice of Climate Change & Water

AGWA’s Policy Team: The Year Ahead

The AGWA policy agenda for 2018 is quickly filling up. Based on the successes of the previous few years in global policy, we are making some significant but subtle shifts in our work for this year.

Especially for the UNFCCC, we have done a lot of awareness raising — seeking water partners willing to stand with us to tell stories of the linkages between water and climate change, as well as partnerships within the UNFCCC and national signatories. This work has been critical as well as dramatically successful. We clearly need to keep pursuing this path, but by itself awareness raising is no longer sufficient.

Beginning in late 2017, we began pivoting to describe more specific recommendations for how the UNFCCC can receive “plumbing”: which institutions, issues, and processes within the UNFCCC need resilient water knowledge, and how do we move towards building support and then implementing these recommendations? In many ways, this also means that we need to move outside of the comfort zone of other water-centered organizations.

For instance, urban resilience, disaster risk reduction (DRR), forestry and agriculture, energy and nature-based solutions are all growing areas of emphasis in global policy. How do we ensure that water knowledge is effectively represented in these areas? We must continue to cultivate a greater network of partners outside the traditional water community and we are pursuing ways to work more strategically, whether by participating in more major non-water meetings, such as the upcoming Adaptation Futures conference in Cape Town, or by partnering with organizations like the Red Cross or a broad set of the finance community to scale-up the impact of our work. 

This expanded focus also means that we need the full network to be involved to represent AGWA and to jointly articulate these issues and forge the necessary partnerships. Please volunteer and collaborate!

Looking forward, there are a number of meetings and events this year that we will be actively involved in, including:

  • World Water Forum 8 (March 18-23, Brasilia, Brazil). AGWA is co-organizing two events, the first of which is a session on improving the use of scientific and technical data in public and private sector decision making entitled: “Science and Policy: Improving Collaboration at National and Project Scales for Climate-Informed Decision Making.” The second is a High Level Panel Session on bridging the climate-water divide. This panel is designed to bring together government representatives to form a working group to better integrate the water and climate agendas, with a particular focus on UNFCCC processes.
  • UN High Level Political Forum (July 9-18, New York, USA). AGWA is engaged with the HLPF through the #ClimateIsWater initiative, SIWI, and through our existing work on sustainable cities (SDG11) and sustainable consumption (SDG12). This year’s Forum is being convened under the theme of "transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies" and will review progress on 6 SDGs: 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, and 17. We have co-authored some materials for the Forum under #ClimateIsWater and will continue to actively engage with the 2030 Agenda, building on our work linking water and sustainable development policy and activities. 
  • Stockholm World Water Week (August 26-31, Stockholm, Sweden). AGWA has proposed a number of sessions for this year's World Water Week including a high level stocktaking dialogue session linking the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement goals through resilient water management, and preparations for COP 24; mainstreaming Ecosystem-based Adaptation; and reconciling the Sendai Disaster Risk Reduction and UNFCCC Climate agendas. 
  • Global Climate Action Summit (12-14 September, San Francisco, USA). This conference will bring together state and local leaders from around the world to share what they have achieved to date implementing the Paris Agreement and produce greater commitments in support of the global climate action agenda. AGWA will have a presence at the summit and will work over the coming months to develop a targeted strategy for engaging with this important precursor to COP 24. 
  • COP 24 (3-14 December, Katowice, Poland). AGWA will once again engage with the GCA process as a co-organizer of Water Action Day at the COP and will look to position water more centrally within the UNFCCC negotiation process. This year's focal SDGs are 8, 9, 12 so the focus will be on interlinking sustainable economic growth, industry, infrastructure, and responsible production and consumption with the Paris Agreement implementation. Additionally, this year’s host country, Poland, is prioritizing terrestrial ecosystems, such as forests. We are working with IUCN, FAO, and others to engage with the Polish delegation and promote integrated terrestrial and freshwater ecosystem management. Based on feedback from the larger policy team and developments throughout the year at the WWF, UNFCCC Intercessional Meetings, HLPF, etc., we will likely author additional policy brief(s) and/or white papers linking these agendas through water.
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