The Policy & Practice of Climate Change & Water

Policy

Yearbook of Global Climate Action 2017

The Yearbook of Global Climate Action was launched today at a high level GCA event during COP23. The Marrakech Partnership’s 2017 Yearbook of Climate Action, drawing from thematic and regional meetings, summarizes the achievements in climate action over the last year.

The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action was launched in COP22 in Marrakech to provide a strong roadmap for the UNFCCC process to catalyze and support climate action by Parties and non-Party stakeholders in the period from 2017 to 2020. The partnerships and initiatives of non-Party stakeholders, through the Marrakech Partnership, and in cooperation with national governments, aim to take immediate action on climate, consistent with the full implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

This Yearbook demonstrates that non-Party stakeholders are steadily progressing with climate action.
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#ClimateIsWater Flyer for COP23 & Beyond

WATERDAY
The #ClimateIsWater initiative has released an updated set of key messages highlighting the importance of water in climate policy dialogue. The document, now available online, is meant to help inform activities at COP23 in Bonn that run from 6-17 November. It focuses on six key ideas:
  • Water connects sectors – from energy and forests to agriculture and tourism, water has a critical role to play in both mitigation and adaptation.
  • Climate change impacts water resources first and foremost.
  • Women's lives are the most impacted when facing the adverse effects of climate change, but they are also crucial agents of change.
  • Food security, improved nutrition and health will only be achievable if there is water security.
  • Sustainable urban water management enables climate resilience in cities.
  • Water-wise climate financing is a good investment for all.
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Second International Conference on Water and Climate

Second International Conference on Water and Climate
Hosted by the World Water Council and the CoP22 Presidency as represented by the State Secretariat for Water of the Kingdom of Morocco
3–4 October
Marseille, France

Following up on the July 2016 conference in Rabat, Morocco, the World Water Council and representatives of the Kingdom of Morocco with support from AGWA worked to mobilize the water community in preparation for November’s COP 23 in Bonn, Germany. About 100 attendees from four continents participated over the two days.

The conference tried to concentrate on the question of how best to integrate water thematically within the UNFCCC policies and institutions. Climate negotiators from Senegal, Bangladesh, Morocco, Germany, and El Salvador as well as many representatives from agriculture, cities, finance, the private sector, and WASH all took part. Other governmental actors ranged from a mayor to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Several suggestions were made that should be useful going forward, including a strong message for the water community to reach out to other sectors recognized by the UNFCCC and argue for how water supports (rather than is more or equally important for) their climate-related targets, an emphasis on connecting the SDGs and UNFCCC through a water lens, the need to work with subsidiary institutions within the UNFCCC on rationalizing water resources through their work (and potentially more broadly through the NDCs and NAPs), and communicating to national and UN parties humbly and effectively how water is connected to both mitigation and adaptation. Read More...
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New Publication on Transboundary Water Cooperation

A new article entitled Improving governance in transboundary cooperation in water and climate change adaptation has come out in the journal "Water Policy." The authors examine the complexities of transboundary water governance in the face of climate change while simultaneously providing examples of lessons learned from almost a decade of cooperation on transboundary climate adaptation in water management under the UNECE Water Convention. The 63 lessons learned are also put into the context of the OECD principles on water governance. The paper concludes that developing climate change adaptation measures needs to improve in parallel the water governance system at transboundary scale.

You can find the publication online here.
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Guest Blog | Announcement of US Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement: What are the Consequences?

This guest blog was written by Soléne Fabrégas, Program Officer and Coordinator of the Climate Working Group at the French Water Partnership. The article comes from FWP's Water & Climate News Digest.

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Following the dramatic announcement that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, concerns regarding the future of international negotiations and our capacity to combat climate change are greater than ever.

Although a number of reassuring speeches have indicated that such a decision could both encourage nations to take action and stimulate momentum in civil society, the negative consequences could be numerous:
  • From a symbolic point of view, the withdrawal from the agreement of the world’s second biggest producer of greenhouse gases gives out a very negative signal. Since Donald Trump’s election, the United States had already announced multiple measures that go against sustainable development and a low-carbon economy (e.g. drastic cuts in environmental credits, re-examination of the Clean Power Act, etc.). Now, however, the US President clearly intends to let the world know that he no longer wants to contribute to a joint effort that is nevertheless indispensible to respect international targets.
    By undoing the efforts made by Barack Obama’s administration to limit the USA’s production of greenhouse gases, the federal state is extinguishing the last hope of remaining under the 2°C threshold. As a reminder, the sum of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) submitted by nations for the Paris agreement currently corresponds to an estimated average temperature rise of between 2.7°C and 3.5°C by 2100. A significant revision and stepping up of nations’ ambitions is therefore crucial, rather than the opposite. In its latest note, the Comité 21 (network for all French actors working for sustainability) states “The impacts of this decision will really be felt after 2020 with a rise in emissions from coal, and a slow-down in the production of renewable energy due to a lack of incentives from the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency)”.
    The issue of funding is also crucial. Climate funds (adaptation funds, green funds, etc.) are vital tools to help countries initiate processes for energy transition and adapt to climate change. Although the USA’s promise to contribute 3 billion dollars to the Green Climate Fund may not seem like much, the withdrawal of this financing would have the effect of weakening a financial tool that already struggles to find resources. In addition to multilateral funding, we can also apprehend a drop in development aid from the United States, bearing in mind that numerous funded development projects also play a part in combating climate change and reducing vulnerabilities.
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#ClimateIsWater Members Hold Side Event at Bonn Climate Change Conference

Global Water Partnership, International Water Association and World Water Council, three members of the #ClimateIsWater Initiative convened a side event at the Bonn Climate Change Conference on 18 May. The event, entitled "Implementation of NDCs – climate finance for water-related adaptation and mitigation action," was well received by the audience. It was covered by multiple types of media, allowing you to read all about the event or watch a full-length recording. See below for details.
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Approach for the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action

The Marrakech call is loud and clear: nothing can stop global climate action. At the same time, there is universal recognition that if we are to realise the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must all go further and faster in delivering climate action before 2020, enabled by adequate flows of finance, technology and capacity building. The following document provides the way forward through the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action.

Approach for the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action
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Guest Blog | Papal Audience and Watershed Event

This guest blog was written by Maggie White, the SIWI Co-Chair for AGWA and member of the Policy Group. From 21-23 March, Maggie participated in a series of water & policy related events around Rome to coincide with World Water Day.

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In honor of World Water Day on 22 March, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture and the Club of Rome co-hosted the “Watershed” conference in Rome (21st-23rd of March). Organized with the support of Circle of Blue, the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank, and SIWI (among others), the event offered a highlight moment during Pope Francis’s Papal Audience.

In an unprecedented move, the Pope addressed the importance of raising global awareness on water in front of the 15,000 people who attended. Thousands more were able to watch the live-streamed event online through various social media outlets and hear his position on the importance of water as a “treasure belonging to everyone, mindful of its cultural and religious significance,” a treasure which should be preserved and shared by all in joint collaboration. The Pope also thanked the participants of the Watershed event for their endeavors.

It can be said that water is a high priority for the Pope. After the publication of his work ‘Laudato’ where he advocates the need to protect our planet, its resources and addresses climate issues, he took a strong stance at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) during the adoption of the 2030 SDG Agenda. Furthermore, earlier this year in February, the Vatican also co-hosted another high level conference on the human right to water and sanitation.

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Guest Blog | Summary of UNFCCC Fifteenth Standing Committee on Finance Meeting

This guest blog was written by Stephanie Lyons, Policy Analyst (Water Security and Climate Change) for WaterAid's Global Policy Team. Ms. Lyons represented the AGWA Policy Group at the UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance meeting in Bonn, which took place March 7-9. The following report outlines future plans for the SCF in 2017 and beyond.

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The 15th meeting of the UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) brought together the SCF’s member countries and observers to take forward its work in 2017. This was the first of two SCF meetings for 2017 (aside from the SCF Forum); the second meeting has been tentatively scheduled for 18-22 September 2017. An abridged summary of the SCF’s main agreements follows; detailed daily summaries are available from the Climate Finance Advisory Service and documented outcomes are available from the UNFCCC Secretariat.
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COP22 OUTCOME DOCUMENT OF THE ACTION EVENT ON WATER

Thanks to the efforts of the water community, Morocco, France, and Peru, and the UNFCCC, a dedicated "Water Action Day" was organized during COP 22, which included a Dialogue about the role of the water community in supporting the UNFCCC and the role of the UNFCCC in supporting effective water management. The participants of the Dialogue, led in discussion by the OECD and AGWA, had their comments directed into a plan released today.

Organizers have prepared an Outcome Document of the Action Event on Water based upon the discussions that took place during throughout the Action Day on Water. The document contains key information that will have important ramifications for water-climate policy moving forward.
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Morocco strives to maintain political support for water within the climate change agenda

Morocco strives to maintain political support for water within the climate change agenda
This article was written by AGWA Policy Group members Maggie White (French Water Partnership, Coalition Eau, Eau Vive) and Louise Whiting (WaterAid)
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Rabat_1
Photo by John Matthews

Just six months after the signing of the Paris Agreement, Morocco and France have kept the promise made at COP21 to highlight water’s critical role when it comes to addressing climate change – including both the reduction of carbon emissions and adapting our societies to the climatic impacts that are now inevitable.

The key role that water plays in both adaptation and mitigation was acknowledged by the majority of countries that signed the Paris Agreement, as evidenced through the content of their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). In fact, 83 percent of the NDCs that have been submitted highlight the importance of adaptation – especially in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Pacific-Asia – and 93 percent of the adaptation content refers to water as fundamental to effective adaptation programmes (1). It is beyond question that water is central to the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement.

It was therefore essential that just before COP22, the COP Presidency chose to support, promote and lead an event on addressing climate change in Africa specifically from a water perspective.

The International Conference on Water and Climate: water security for climatic justice (2) was co-organised on the 11-12th of July by the Government of Morocco, the Government of France, the World Water Council and with the support of the French Water Partnership. The event fell under the high patronage of his majesty the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, and was fully supported by the head of the Moroccan government. With over 600 participants in attendance, and more than 20 African ministerial delegations, the conference was a huge success in terms of building the much-needed political awareness of the role of water in the battle against climate change.

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The IWA’s Principles for Water Wise Cities – Developing a Shared Water Vision

This guest blog was written by AGWA member Lisa Andrews (IWA Intern for Cities of the Future) with edits from Corinne Trommsdorff (IWA Programmes Manager for Water Climate & Energy / Cities of the Future)

Water — it sustains us and the planet, and it is increasingly becoming a central focus for planning across disciplines and in the face of climate change. Many organizations are now using water as their central focus for planning and adapting to climate change, and this is the backbone of the International Water Association’s (IWA) Cities of the Future Programme (CoF). The Cities of the Future agenda harnesses the power of the IWA network to co-create solutions and join efforts to manage a city’s many waters in a sustainable and resilient manner, an approach summarized by the IWA Principles for Water Wise Cities detailed below.

Coming from the ‘World’s Biggest Gathering on Water’, the 7th World Water Forum held in Korea, the IWA set out to develop what is now called the ‘IWA Principles for Water Wise Cities.’ This initiative was taken as an outcome of the theme ‘Water and Cities’ of the Forum. The driver for action was the statement that ‘vision underlies all collaborative action’ and there was a strong need identified for a document to support the development of a shared water vision between urban and water stakeholders, and in particular to inspire urban leaders on a progressive water vision. Read More...
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From Bonn to Marrakech - The Role of Water in Ongoing Climate Discussions

This guest blog was written by AGWA Policy Group members Maggie White (French Water Partnership) and Sofia Widforss (SIWI)

The "spirit of Paris" — transparency, inclusiveness and flexibility — was on everyone’s minds during the Pre-Cop meeting that took place in Bonn at the UNFCCC headquarters from 16-26 May. A sense of purposeful urgency was in the air. Participants sought to continue the positive dynamics of Paris that promoted involvement of all stakeholders, leaving "no one behind," and inciting countries to ratify quickly so that the Agreement could also enter into force earlier. "The world is looking upon us and we cannot disappoint it."

During the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) meetings, the constructive tone from Paris was present. An optimistic spirit was in the hallways — a willingness to build on the Paris Agreement (PA), albeit facing a complex process ahead. Shifting from an agreement-focus towards an implementation-focus, adaptation has replaced mitigation as the centre of attention. Water, as the key element mentioned in most Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and essential for adaptation measures, was mentioned in many different contexts (e.g., linked to sustainable business and agriculture, gender and human rights, as well as to funding). Read More...
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Joint Proposal on Water Resilience – adaptation and mitigation to climate change

At the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly, the Sustainable Development Goals were signed off by 193 countries and formally adopted. This is great news for the climate adaptation community. In addition, the French, Swedish and Peruvian governments presented the countries’ joint proposal, which concerns the central nature of climate and water issues to sustainable development, at a high-level seminar in New York. Read More...
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Pacific Island Nations: Challenges and Lessons Learned

At the Seventh World Water Forum in South Korea, AGWA coordinated a thematic session on "Mainstreaming Climate Adaptation into Water Management, Planning, and Policy." It was co-convened by UNESCO-IHP. This video highlights Dr. Christine Chan of AGWA as she speaks during the panel discussion. In her talk she addresses some of the lessons learned from her experiences in Pacific Island Nations. Dr. Chan outlines some of the challenges facing local populations as climate change affects their lands and offers her thoughts on ways to enhance resilience in these areas.
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Hydropower in Transboundary River Basins

Hydropower development is forging ahead in a large number of river basins. Generation has grown steadily over the past decades and will continue doing so in the future – not least due to global dynamics related to climate change mitigation. Many of these basins are shared by two or more riparian states. This lifts existing challenges such as potential environmental and socioeconomic costs and benefits to an additional level of complexity by adding an international dimension. Within this complex framework of developments and interests, one dimension stands out that has received particularly little attention by both academic scholars and policy makers – the relationship between water resources management institutions at the basin-level (namely River Basin Organizations (RBOs)) and the (private) hydropower development sector (including financiers, developers and equipment suppliers).
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