With water increasingly set to play a defining role in the future of development and geopolitics, the World Water Council, in cooperation with the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) Presidency, as well as other international partners, successfully held the Second International Conference on Water and Climate in Marseille from the 3rd to the 4th of October, 2017. This follows the achievements of the First International Conference on Water and Climate held in Rabat, Morocco, in July 2016.
The event, endorsed by the COP23 Presidency, attracted more than 150 international experts and political leaders at the forefront of the debate on climate and water, as well as several environmental ministers including Charafat Afilal, Secretary of State for Water and Environment of Morocco; Istiaque Ahmad, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests of Bangladesh and Sindra Sharma-Khushal, from the UNFCCC COP23 Presidency Team for Fiji, and was presided by World Water Council Honorary President Loïc Fauchon and Vice-President Dogan Altinbilek.
Their mission was to map the way forward and generate global awareness on critical water issues ahead of the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) which will take place in Bonn, Germany, from the 6th to the 17th of November and the World Water Forum that will be held in Brasilia, Brazil’s capital city, in March 2018.
The conference highlighted the importance of water as a central element to human development overall and at the heart of climate change impact.
“Water is an enabler and a connector, an essential common thread that connects the many aspects tackled by the Sustainable Development Goals,” Professor Dogan Altinbilek, Vice-President of the World Water Council, explained. “I firmly believe that far from being a problem, water is a solution, a determining factor in making the world a better place.”
Discussions generated an ongoing debate on the arising global challenges of water security. This keeps it at the helm of global climate conversations at COP23 in November 2017, and beyond.
The 2nd International Conference on Water and Climate saw a particular emphasis on SDG 11, Sustainable cities and communities and SDG 2, End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Considering nearly €255 billion (US$302 billion) a year are needed for water infrastructure development globally and the eradication of hunger by 2030, an investment of €17.4 billion (US$20.6 billion) is needed. As a result, financing is a crucial issue on world leaders’ political agenda. Building sustainable cities resilient to climate change and hunger reduction are also crucial.
However, as a result of conflicts and other circumstances, hunger climbed for the first time in decades in 2016. By 2030, the world is projected to face a 40 per cent global water deficit under the business-as-usual climate scenario. Competing demands increase the risk of localised conflicts and will lead to increasingly difficult allocation decisions and limit the expansion of sectors critical to sustainable development.
The last session of the conference followed up on the Water for Africa Initiative which was launched at the previous conference and during COP22. The conference presented a historic opportunity to refocus the global community’s attention on the need to help developing nations adapt to climate change. In no area could this be more pressing than in regions such as Africa, Asia and Latin America, where protecting food security and ending hunger, for which water is essential, is an urgent necessity.
“Without water we would be a barren lifeless planet. A fundamental truth about water and its connection to all of life is that unwise management is increasingly becoming an obstacle to facing climate change,” Sindra Sharma-Khushal, UNFCCC COP23 Presidency Team, declared. “And addressing climate change is a pre-requisite for peace.”
Making the most of the World Water Council’s extensive member base, strengthening urban resilience through water management for sustainable cities is a priority. This is supported by global mayors who will highlight these issues during the next Conference of Local and Regional Authorities to be held in conjunction with the World Water Forum held in 2018 in Brasilia.
“Water is life. As a result of climate change, fresh water is becoming a scarce resource,” Istiaque Ahmad, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests for Bangladesh, said. “As a result of all the crises we face today as humans, our very survival depends on the urgency with which the global community confronts the adverse effects of this reality.”
The International Conference on Water and Climate is one of many events leading up to the World Water Forum, the world’s largest water related event, and organised by the World Water Council. The Forum is expected to be attended by over 30,000 participants, including global leaders, opinion makers, experts and professionals with the objective of catalysing change for a water-secure world. This triennial conference, under the theme Sharing Water, will take place from the 18th to the 23rd of March, 2018 in Brasilia.