News.Dec 08, 2023

Temperature check at COP28

Following a sought-after rest day at COP28 in Dubai, the second and final week of climate debates, negotiations and interaction is under way. What has been the role of water so far? Are there any signs that COP28 will follow up on the small but promising steps taken at COP27?

Andreas Karlsson (Communications)
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Andreas Karlsson

“We have heard the voices of water echo strongly during the first week of this COP. A lot of this has happened in the informal space. That is very positive, but now we need it to be translated into the formal spaces and for it to make its way into the to the outcomes of the negotiations”, says Dani Gaillard-Picher, International Process & Policy Advisor at SIWI.

As far as COPs go, COP28 is special in that it marks the first Global Stocktake of the Paris Agreement. This is where progress on the climate action commitments made seven years ago are being reviewed. And while water is not actually mentioned in the Paris Agreement of 2016, its presence in the climate debate has progressively increased since then. At last year’s COP27 in Egypt, water made its way into the main outcome document. This has raised expectations, with the entire water community requesting that further concrete steps are taken to put water at the heart of an ambitious climate action agenda.

Halfway through COP28 though, as the Global Stocktake document is coming together, water does not seem to be mentioned in the drafted texts. Nor are freshwater ecosystems. There is however a dedicated bullet point on water in the text for the Global Goal on Adaptation, which is a commitment under the Paris Agreement aimed at enhancing world’s adaptive capacity, resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change. What this will mean in practice is yet to be announced, and some have noted that the negotiations are not only slow, but also seemingly conflicting.

“A lot of this has happened in the informal space. (...) But now we need it to be translated into the formal spaces and for it to make its way into the to the outcomes of the negotiations.”

Dani Gaillard-Picher, International Process & Policy Advisor, SIWI


Having arrived in Dubai for the final week of COP28, including the special water theme day on 10 December, SIWI’s Acting Executive Director says:

“I hope of course that I can stand here next week and talk about concrete outcomes where water’s essential role in impactful climate action is acknowledged and further incorporated in the official documents. But even if I can’t, there is clearly a strong drive in the right direction, and I am confident that together we are making an impact. SIWI’s message at this COP, and in any international process where we participate, is that water-related solutions are multi-solutions, simultaneously addressing many of our pressing climate challenges.”

Gaillard-Picher adds:

“We must remember that this is a long-term process. So regardless of what comes out of this COP, we stand more united than ever, and we have clearly demonstrated our determination to continue to work together towards COP29 and beyond. The past three years have seen a tremendous strengthening of the voice for water, where the Water for Climate now have more than 60 partners. This is a midpoint, there may be bumps along the way, but the momentum is there.”

Follow SIWI to COP28

Join SIWI in a range of events, onsite and online, as we highlight water’s role in effectively addressing climate change. We are also the leading organizer of the Water for Climate Pavilion, where much of the water-related events will take place.

More about SIWI at COP28
Swirly water from above, with turquoise, blue and white shades. COP28 UAE logo