Insight.Nov 04, 2022

The essential drop to reach Net-Zero: 10 minutes with Dr. Malin Lundberg Ingemarsson

November 9 at COP27 sees the launch of the much anticipated report about water and climate mitigation, The essential drop to reach Net-Zero: Unpacking freshwater’s role in climate change mitigation. The report is a culmination of over two years research, involving around 40 experts from 25 organizations, and will shine a light on the essential role that freshwater plays in mitigating climate change and reducing global warming. In the busy days leading up to COP27, we find a few moments to chat with the report lead, Dr. Malin Lundberg Ingemarsson.

Ingemarsson is a programme manager at Swedish Water House, bridging the sectors of landscape management and international policy, and is passionate about using research to improve policy for the betterment of the environment and mankind. She explains that the idea for the report was first born in 2018 at COP24 in Katowice. Representatives from SIWI, Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) who attended the event, noticed a distinct lack of acknowledgement of water resources and the water cycle in climate change mitigation. “Whilst the connection of water and climate adaptation was well established at the time,” explains Ingemarsson, “we recognized a very real need to close the knowledge gap between water and climate mitigation. It’s complex, involving many sectors and ecosystems, but it is essential that people are aware of it, otherwise many climate mitigation measures can’t be as successful as they need to be.”

Ingemarsson and Dr. Lan Wang Erlandsson (SRC) were brought in to coordinate the study, and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ ) agreed to fund it. The initial report was planned to be considerably smaller, though as it took shape and the complexities of the research were unraveled, more researchers were brought in and the remit deepened. “The original plan for the report was that it would take around a year, but it ended up taking nearly two and half. We also had the Covid-19 pandemic to work around, which delayed things somewhat. But now we have a report and recommendations with an incredibly strong scientific base.”

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“We hope that [the international climate community] will begin to understand the synergies between freshwater and climate change mitigation better.”

Dr. Malin Lundberg Ingemarsson

And it is hoped that this research will influence climate mitigation strategizing and actions around the globe. “We hope that the messages of this report will find their way into the awareness of policy-makers and encourage them to consider freshwater within climate mitigation plans at national level. We also hope that the messages will be embraced by the international climate community, and that they begin to understand the synergies between freshwater and climate change mitigation better.”

Whilst the aim of the report is to influence policy-makers and strategists, Ingemarsson explains that we can all, in fact, play a role in water mitigation. “It’s important that we understand on an individual level that freshwater is a sparce resource and that the demand globally will increase with climate change. We need to spread the word about this, making everyone aware. We can all make small changes in our lives also, such as being mindful about the quantity of water we use on a daily basis and choosing to buy products that we know don’t have huge water requirements. And we mustn’t forget the power of the people, pressure on the private-sector comes from the demands of their customers. So, by demanding better from them and by embracing a circular lifestyle, we can all play part.”

Now that Ingemarsson has spent the best part of two and a half years immersed in the actions necessary to mitigate climate change, is she hopeful for the future? “Yes, very much so. I’m really encouraged at the growing level of engagement with climate mitigation and climate action at large, particularly with today’s youth. We need to work together to solve the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced and COP27 is one big step in that complex process. To that table, I bring freshwater as an important piece of the puzzle to create a climate-smart transition to sustainable development.”

The essential drop to reach Net-Zero: Unpacking Freshwater's Role in Climate Change Mitigation

The report shows a new way of thinking about climate change that can lead to more effective solutions.

read the report