News.Sep 23, 2019

Water must be in focus at UN Summits

This week more than 100 heads of state and governments gather in New York for meetings about the climate and the sustainable development goals. SIWI is present to demonstrate how water is a necessary tool to tackle the climate crisis and help the world achieve the 2030 Agenda.

In the coming days, the United Nations will be hosting a record number of six high-level plenary meetings. The meetings will cover a wide range of political and socio-economic issues on the UN agenda, including climate change and the sustainable development goals (SDGs). SIWI experts will be attending several high-level conferences and side events with the Climate and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in focus.

“Our presence at these forums is vital as water is not only the blue thread running through the issues of today and tomorrow but also a powerful fuel for initiating transformative actions,” shares Maggie White, Senior Manager for International policy at SIWI.

The week starts with the Climate Action Summit, hosted by the UN Secretary General António Guterres, on 23 September. The day after the UN Climate Summit, the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) will launch the Year of Action. Recognizing water’s key role in addressing and bringing solutions to the pressing climate issues, a Water Action Track will be announced by the Government of the Netherlands and other Commissioners of the GCA.

SIWI will play a strategic role in these processes and work closely with the Global Commission on Adaptation and with the Water Action Track team to develop policy recommendations.

A recent report compiled by the Global Commission on Adaptation lists the imperatives for accelerating adaption of policies to create climate resilience whilst highlighting the need for great investment if any attempt to curb the climate crisis is to succeed. The report highlights five areas where investment would reap both financial and environmental reward: four of these areas are closely related to water: weather monitoring and warning systems, improvement to dry-land agriculture, the protection of water supplies and the restoration and protection of mangroves.

The report also shows that there is money to be made in investing in climate resilience. According to the research in the report: investing $1.8 trillion globally in five areas from 2020 to 2030 could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits.

SIWI has long emphasized that this potential of water-related solutions and the protection of water resources must be used to help societies become more resilient. One example is the source-to-sea approach, where the water supply is protected from its source to its end: the sea.

“It is evident now that even the oceans have a limit to what they can withstand…Polluting the ocean is no longer a local issue, it is a global issue,” says Ruth Mathews, Senior Manager Water Governance at SIWI.

Maggie White hopes that the upcoming meetings will demonstrate how water is crucial to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals and tackle the climate crisis. “With the release of the GCA report and the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019 we have a stark reminder of how much work lies ahead. The upcoming meetings provide an opportunity to seek collaboration, inclusion and support in taking the next step in this process. A focus on water will accelerate action,” she says.

Last week, in order to galvanise the global community and accelerate action, SIWI released an Open Letter ahead of the summits: we have joined forces with partner organizations to call for more focus on how water can help the world reach the developments goals. Read the Open Letter here.

Follow SIWI’s participation here and on social media. Maggie and her colleagues Jennifer Jun, Torgny Holmgren and Katarina Veem will be sharing insights from next week’s debates and meetings via @siwi_water and you can also follow our hashtags: #water4action & #SIWIatHLPF

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