The Policy & Practice of Climate Change & Water

Smart Water Policies to Combat Climate Change

Beating climate change means adopting climate-resistant water management approaches because without water there is no life. People all over the world are experiencing the impacts of climate change, with very real consequences for their lives and for the natural systems on which they depend. These impacts are experienced more directly through water: floods, droughts, storms, rising temperatures and rising sea levels.

At the same time, water resources are increasingly variable, partly due to the climate crisis. Water availability and demand are becoming more unpredictable, affecting water quality and threatening sustainable development.

These challenges were discussed during the “Watering the National Adaptation Plans” event at #COP25 Spain Pavilion.

Cristina Narbona, member of the Spanish Network for Sustainable Development and first Vice-President of Spain's Senate; Cristina Gallach, High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda of the Government of Spain; John Matthews, of the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA); and Leo Heller, special rapporteur on human rights to drinking water and sanitation.

They talked about what their organisations and governments are doing to expand climate action and address water challenges on National Adaptation Plans.

Participants agreed that while these challenges are significant, there are scalable and replicable solutions already being implemented in cities and countries around the world. By adopting climate-resilient water management tools and approaches, communities can adapt to climate change and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, which will help alleviate and minimise the negative impacts of climate change.

During the debate it became clear that smart climate policies for water can facilitate mitigation and adaptation. Climate-resistant water management is essential to slowing climate change and ensuring prosperity despite its effects.

Some cities, for example, are reducing emissions by improving their water supply and stormwater management and by storing carbon in healthy forests and wetlands. This provides significant mitigation and adaptation benefits, and improves the capacity of communities to avoid, resist and protect themselves from extreme weather events.

Incorporating climate-resistant water management practices into national climate change plans and activities can help prevent the intensification of water crises and ensure that water is available whenever and wherever people need it.

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