GWP Scaling Up Commitments to Meet Planetary Crises

With hand-washing as one of the top recommendations to hinder the spread of COVID-19, the lack of access to clean water and sanitation in many parts of the world is being reported on extensively in media. Water management, and in particular the impact of climate change on water resources, has come to the fore. In recent years, GWP has collaborated with UNICEF on this issue, developing a Strategic Framework for Climate Resilience and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene), including a Help Desk that is being developed to support users of the Framework.

“In times of a health crisis of this scale, access to clean water and sanitation is more important than ever. It underlines the urgency to act that GWP’s 2020-2025 Strategy calls for,” said GWP Executive Secretary Monika Weber-Fahr in a recent announcement.

To acknowledge that most of the planet’s challenges are interconnected (water, climate, human health, biodiversity, economic development, etc.), GWP also signed an Open Letter to global leaders, coordinated by the Club of Rome. The letter states that it is important to acknowledge that the planet is facing a deeper and longer-term crisis, and calls for collaborative leadership to lead transformational change for a ‘healthy planet for healthy people’, a call echoed by GWP’s new strategy.

In 2018, GWP and UNICEF launched a dedicated website for the Strategic Framework for WASH Climate Resilience, together with a range of other knowledge products that support the implementation of the Framework. The website points out that “Resilient WASH programming helps ensure that WASH infrastructure and services are sustainable and resilient to climate related risks; and WASH contributes to building community resilience to climate change.”

Since then, trainings have been conducted with UNICEF staff – in West Africa, Central Africa, and South Asia – and the next step is to offer a Help Desk function to the UNICEF country offices that are using the Framework products. Anticipated areas of technical support include remote guidance to implement the different levels of the Strategic Framework, or when necessary, development of remote pre-analysis. The support also covers any other technical support which is required to implement and scale-up WASH climate resilience programming. 

As part of the GWP-UNICEF collaboration on Water, Sanitation and hygiene (WASH), an online course on the use and implementation of the Strategic Framework for WASH Climate Resilience has been developed for GWP and UNICEF staff, as well as government partners (to be invited by UNICEF Country Teams). This course will enhance capacities to provide stronger support to countries by establishing links between WASH , water resources management, and climate resilience - a critical need as the global community faces a massive health challenge and perhaps an unprecedented economic disruption due to COVID 19. 

GWP is also further strengthening its support to its Partners and allies through the Water ChangeMaker Awards, launched on World Water Day (22 March). The competition seeks to recognise organisations and individuals that manage water in a climate resilient way, and to find new solutions to water management challenges.