GWP and Partners discuss water connections to NDCs in Bonn

Water is a key component of ensuring climate action. A GWP delegation was in Bonn, Germany, to convey this message and raise the profile of water at the UN climate talks, COP23, which took place 6-17 November. Rapid implementation to the Paris Agreement is paramount to battle climate change. Water is integral to build climate resilience and is therefore a crucial component of implementing the Paris Agreement. And GWP is well positioned to help countries deliver on the adaptation components of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

On 14 November, GWP held a press conference to discuss different aspects of "Financing water security and adaptation in NDC implementation." GWP Chair Oyun Sanjaasuren moderated the event and opened with some cold statistics:

“The OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050 projects that more than 40% of the world’s population is likely to be living in river basin areas under severe distress – the demand for water will exceed the available resources,” said Sanjaasuren.

Invited on the panel were Julie Gonnet, Project Leader, Adapt’Action Facility  of the French Development Agency AFD, Pablo Vieira, Global Director of the NDC Partnership Support Unit and John Matthews, Coordinator and co-founder of the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA). They each spoke of their institutions’ work to integrate water aspects in the NDCs.

“Despite the large place left to adaptation and water in NDCs, their actual integration into public decision making and investments planning is still low. This results in a limited number of projects focusing on adaptation with respect to the funds available for climate financing. AFD’s objective is now to multiply by three  its annual financing commitment in adaptation co-benefits projects to reach more than 1 Billion € in 2020,” said Julie Gonnet.

 To this end, AFD launched Adapt’Action earlier this year, a Climate Adaptation Facility to support NDC implementation in vulnerable countries. “The aim is to help 15 of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, operationalize their NDCs with a strong focus on climate change adaptation, and to provide assistance tailored to the needs of the country. To deploy Adapt’Action activities we also try to work closely with key organizations like NDC partnership, we consider as a key actor to help us better coordinate and optimize initiatives deployed for NDC implementation. We are also having discussions with GWP in countries where we have similar initiatives to join efforts and scale up action in the water sector.”

 Action plans around water 

"It's important to understand that 80% of NDCs contain water-related actions in their adaptation measures. Water is the most frequently cited sector in all of the NDCs in the adaptation chapter. There is a wide range of issues - from conservation to food security, sanitation, urban resilience, and to energy - included in these measures. And water is not only an issue in terms of adaptation, there's a lot of water related measures in terms of mitigation. These challenges signal a need for action plans around water and they need to be integrated into policies at all levels. Water is the strongest link between countries implementation of NDCs and the SDGs. NDC Partnership looks for ways to connect the dots between water related initiatives. Partnerships are starting to form to help countries find their resources to respond to these challenges. Global Water Partnership and NDC Partnership are two examples of this," said Pablo Vieira.

 “We want to draw a “blue line” in Bonn, throughout UNFCCC, Climate Finance or the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Why? Because water is a connector, an enabling resource for sustainable development. If we don’t have good water management, we won’t be able to mitigate or adapt to climate change and resilient water management is fundamental to achieving all of the SDGs. Water-intensive investments should assess and reduce climate risk even if they are not “water sector” projects. Groups such as the World Bank are already moving to this model for their more than 20 billion USD in investments, and even in the private sector green bonds market, organisations such as the Climate Bonds Initiative have scored more than 1 billion USD for their water resilience in the past year,” said John Matthews.

 Oyun Sanjaasuren concluded the press conference: "I think the main message is that every sector needs water - both for climate change adaptation and mitigation, and also for SDGs. The need for water resources will be enormous, but all sectors will not necessarily consider whether there is enough water left. There is a saying: “one only understands the value of water when the well is dry”. We all have to work towards the well not only not drying out, but also that it stays on the same level of water resources that we have now.”

 Watch the full press conference here.