The Policy & Practice of Climate Change & Water

The AGWA Policy Group

Bringing Water to the Frontlines of Global Climate Policy

The AGWA Policy Group is growing rapidly but is always seeking new supporters, partners, and colleagues. The Policy Group is a network of AGWA members and like-minded organizations engaged in global climate-water policy and governance work, in particular linked to the UNFCCC. Members contribute to the AGWA mission and purpose, including to bridge local climate adaptation and water management practices to the global policy level. The Policy Group shares knowledge and strengthens cooperation — positively shaping policy frameworks to support and enable more water-aware resilient decisions, actions, and investments. Please reach out to us for more information and join the Policy Group mailing list using the link below.

How should we bridge the divides between the climate change and water communities? Why should these issues be considered together, and how? Courtesy of the crack video team at Arup, AGWA has produced a video that explores the ways in which climate policy “floats” on freshwater resources and how sustainable water and climate change policies need each other in order to be successful for mitigation and adaptation.

Subscribe to the Policy Group mailing list

The AGWA Policy Group welcomes new members. We send out regular newsletters on our recent and upcoming activities as well as updates on important climate-water policy news. Access the sign-up form using the button below.


Valuing Wetlands: An Untapped Resource for Achieving a 1.5 Degree Future

High-carbon ecosystems such as wetlands offer vast potential for climate change mitigation and adaptation, plus numerous co-benefits and ecosystem services that support livelihoods, sustainable local economies and wellbeing. This issue brief includes a set of key messages and policy recommendations for more properly valuing wetlands in national climate policies. This briefing document is based upon a forthcoming report from AGWA and Wetlands International.
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Watering the NDCs | Guidance and Planning Document for Integrating Water into Climate Responses

Through a crowdsourcing effort including national, sectoral, and civil society partners from more than 100 countries, AGWA has created a new guidance and planning document for integrating water into our climate responses. Watering the NDCs provides guiding principles and recommendations for national climate planners and decision-makers to help ensure they meet their goals set out in National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The report is designed to help Parties consider the reality of their water management across sectors, while working towards robust and flexible solutions able to withstand the effects of climate change. The full report as well as a set of key messages can be found on our Watering the NDCs page here.


The 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) will take place in Madrid, Spain from 2-13 December 2019. AGWA and our partners will be very active throughout the conference. Visit our COP25 page for more information on important climate-water events, documents, and more.
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Climate Change and Water | UN-Water Policy Brief

UN-Water has produced a new policy brief on water and climate. The document includes recommendations and strategies for meeting the global climate challenge through more coordinated management of water and climate. Climate finance and the role of water in global sustainable development agendas are also covered. You can find the full publication or a summary document with key messages on the UN-Water website here.

COP24 High-Level Water Action Event Outcome Document

The Marrakech Partnership on Global Climate Action (GCA) has released the Outcome Document for the COP24 High-Level Water Action Event, which took place on 7 December in Katowice, Poland. This document highlights the key takeaways from the event, as well as how they fit into the larger ambitions of the UNFCCC's Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action. You can read the full report here or find out more from the UNFCCC GCA website.
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DRR Article in Global Water Forum | Mastering disaster in a changing climate: Reducing disaster risk through resilient water management

A group of AGWA members has written an article published by Global Water Forum in order to help facilitate constructive dialogue at COP24 around the importance of water in disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies and actions. They argue that resilient water resources management serves as the connector between the climate change and DRR communities. The article supports an update of policy, practice, and financing norms in order to better address and adapt to risks facing communities and ecosystems.

Three-part series of policy articles | Water & climate change policy: A brief history for future progress

Global Water Forum published a series of three articles on water and climate change policy. These articles were written by a high level group of AGWA members in February 2017. The series examines the co-evolution of water and climate change policy over the past 20 years. Part one focuses on policy landscapes through 2010. Part two examines the development of the relationship between the water and climate change communities between 2010-2016. Part three explores the period from the most recent global climate policy conference to the present day, with speculation about where we may see water and climate policy headed into the future.
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#ClimateIsWater - An international initiative for organizations acting for water and climate

AGWA is part of an ongoing international campaign called #ClimateIsWater. Many international organizations representing thousands of stakeholders came together to generate recognition for water at the political level beginning with COP21 and in subsequent editions by communicating with a single voice: Climate Is Water. Visit the campaign page to find out about the initiative and see how #ClimateIsWater has engaged at COP23 and beyond.
  • The #ClimateIsWater Initiative has released a new document outlining the connecting value of water as a means of supporting UNFCCC dialogue.
  • You can also find AGWA's #ClimateIsWater video series here.

Policy Briefs

Connecting the SDGs Through Resilient Water Management

Freshwater is essential to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development and is embedded in all the sustainable goals – not only Goal 6. This policy brief provides recommendations on how resilient water governance, management tools, and approaches can contribute to reaching many of the SDGs. The document was prepared as a contribution to the 2019 High Level Political Forum.
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From COP24
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Building a Resilient Future Through Water

Water is key to the success of all the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, and therefore essential for delivering on the 2030 Agenda that aims to transform our world into the future we want. To achieve this, a new way of managing water is needed, to make societies more resilient, sustainable and inclusive. This policy brief, which is also an open letter that calls for action, takes a closer look at how this can be achieved.

Water Management Key to Tackling Climate Change

Resilient water management is crucial to achieving the objectives of the UNFCCC’s 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. It is encouraging that so many of the Nationally Determined Contributions from the parties to the agreement explicitly include water but much more needs to be done. This policy brief puts forth recommendations to enhance the objectives set out to implement the Paris agreement.
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Mastering Disaster in a Changing Climate: Adaptive Water Management For Disaster Risk Reduction

There is wide recognition that climate change has a strong impact on disasters. However, current disaster risk reduction (DRR) and national, as well as global, climate policies, practice, and financing do not always reflect these linkages. Managing water is an essential component for addressing and adapting to these risks. Find the full document here.

How Landscapes and Water Mitigate Climate Change

Trees, forests and agriculture are key to reducing carbon emissions and assisting countries in adapting to the adverse effects of climate change. In addition, sustainable forest and land management provide essential ecosystem services that regulate both surface and groundwater flows. To achieve the Paris Agreement and meet major water challenges, water wise management and productive multi-functional landscapes are crucial. Find the full document here.
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The Blue Trinity: Freshwater, Oceans, and Climate Change

Source-to-sea management addresses a vital development and environmental challenge of our time. Coastal communities and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face increasing risks as a result of climate change. These risks are amplified when upstream activities impact coastal areas. Source-to-sea management will increase resilience of these vulnerable communities. Find the full document here.

Key Messages for COP24

AGWA and SIWI have jointly released a set of key messages to highlight critical points within the COP24 climate negotiations. This brief document outlines a number of resilient water management strategies and the need for their integration into NDCs, NAPs, and UNFCCC mechanisms and programs.
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Championing the Forest-Water Nexus

This working paper summarizes the outcomes of a meeting with 12 experts from the forest and water sectors hosted parallel to World Water Week. It is co-authored by members of FAO, IUCN, SIWI, and AGWA. Except of the outcomes, this publication covers a background to the connection of forests and water, forest-water issues, and a joint statement on forest and water relationships. The Joint Statement and full Working Paper can both be downloaded separately here.

A Thirst for Food Resilience: Climate-Smart Water Knowledge Integrates UNFCCC and SDG Policies for Food and Agriculture

This background paper, prepared by AGWA and its members, is a contribution to the discussions and activities at the Conference of Parties 23 (CoP). COP23 will also focus on SDG 2 (Agriculture and Food security) and SDG 11 (Cities) in order to identify key areas of collaboration and interlinkages between the 2030 SDG Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement. You can access the document by clicking here.
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Sustaining Waters, Sustainable Cities: Urban Climate Change and SDG Policy Solutions Through Water Resilience

This position paper was prepared by AGWA and members of the Policy Group in preparation for COP23. Representing experience from a broad set of institutions, regions, and approaches, the authors suggest that water can and should be the mechanism to link, coordinate, and implement the policies and processes of SDG 11 and the urban aspects of climate change. You can find the full document here.

Freshwater and Oceans - Working Together to Face Climate Change

This policy brief, prepared by SIWI and AGWA, is designed to improve understanding of the linkages between freshwater and oceans when it comes to climate change. The interface between freshwater and oceans captures the vital development and environmental challenges of our time. Coastal communities and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face increasing socio-economic and environmental risks as a result of climate change. These risks significantly constrain their ability to achieve a sustainable development; and for some, threaten their territorial integrity, economic viability, and survival at large.
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The gender dimension of water and climate change

This policy brief from AGWA's Policy Group focuses on the importance of coherence between gender-responsive climate policies and the balanced participation of women and men in climate policy dialogue. Women are often made more vulnerable from the adverse impacts of climate change, especially in developing countries. They also play a crucial role as change agents for successful adaptation to climate change. Read the two-page document to find out more.

Water a success factor for implementing the Paris Agreement

This briefing document from AGWA's Policy Group focuses on implementing the milestone decisions that make up the Paris Agreement. One of the keys to fulfill the goals set in the Paris Agreement will be wise water management. This document covers national adaptation and mitigation plans, NDCs, climate finance, and recommendations for successful implementations of the Paris Agreement.
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Climate Finance Recommendations for UNFCCC Entities

To fulfill the ambitious objectives set out in the Paris Agreement, appropriate financial flows and wise hydro-climate responsive funding is a key cornerstone in building climate resilience. The AGWA Policy Group has come up with a set of recommendations for achieving inclusive and effective climate financing mechanisms. The recommendations are particularly relevant to COP22 discussions and UNFCCC entities. View or download the document here.

Climate Change is Water Change - COP22 Policy Recommendations

SIWI, the #ClimateIsWater Initiative, and AGWA's Policy Group have released a consensus set of policy recommendations in preparation for COP22. This two-page document addresses a wide range of issues and provides recommendations on the following: UNFCCC policies and institutions, the Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA), NDCs, DRR, climate funding, and the role of cities. View or download the document here.
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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.

The joint proposal from Sweden, France, and Peru originated from discussions held at the 2015 World Water Week. The proposal illustrates their commitment to the importance of integrating the climate and water agenda and their receptiveness of the messages coming out of World Water Week. You can find the joint proposal document here. To read more about this from the Swedish government, visit

Targeting Climate Change

The AGWA policy team has created an document explaining how targeting climate change really means targeting water. Water is much more than a sector - it is a connector. As such, water provides a uniquely cross-cutting means of addressing climate change. Take a look at the topical paper to learn more about how wise water management helps address climate change.
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Disaster Risk Reduction Policy Brief

This policy brief outlines key elements of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies. It explains effective water hazard preparedness and management as well as ways to mitigate the negative effects of water-related disasters. AGWA’s policy team, in collaboration with SIWI, helped to develop this DRR framework. View or download the document here.

#ClimateIsWater - Position Paper with key messages for COP21

SIWI has released a new position paper outlining the messaging being brought forth to UNFCCC at COP21. They have come up with a list of recommendations for the UNFCC that take into account the importance of water and its pivotal role as a connector between climate mitigation and adaptation. View or download the document here to learn how Climate Is Water.
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