Water-wise climate policy on the road to COP28
2) Water for adaptation, mitigation, and co-benefits.
One bone of contention has often been the level of ambition when it comes to climate adaptation versus mitigation strategies. But this is something of a false dichotomy, according to the landmark report Essential Drop to Net Zero: Unpacking Freshwater’s role in climate change mitigation which SIWI’s Dr. Malin Lundberg Ingemarsson presented on two occasions during the Bonn meeting.
The report describes how climate change impacts water resources—droughts, floods, melting glaciers, and the list goes on – at enormous human, environmental and economic cost. But it also highlights that very few mitigation strategies can be implemented if water is lacking. To achieve the necessary transformations of food or energy systems, it is essential to invest in improved management of water.
Many of these solutions have important co-benefits that help people and societies adapt to the impact of climate change. Water can serve as the connector when identifying integrated solutions to the global challenges of climate, biodiversity, food security, etc.
The Essential Drop to Net Zero report shines light on research showing for example that water-smart landscapes management is essential for disaster risk reduction and food security but also for greenhouse gas sequestration. It is a clear reminder that everyone has a shared interest in making the most powerful mitigation and adaptation solutions available across the world.
3) Increase political priority for water by putting it at the heart of the NDCs.
Discussions in Bonn also focused on enhanced nationally determined contributions (NDCs) as an outcome of this year’s Global Stocktake exercise. While discussions acknowledged some progress, there was an overall consensus that greater ambition and political will need to be manifested in the next round of enhanced NDCs, to be completed by 2025. SIWI’s David Hebart-Coleman presented the latest analysis of the role of water in national climate plans, which has become much more prominent in recent years. But most countries can still learn a lot from best practices, which will be presented in a forthcoming report in the next few weeks.
“We truly need political leadership and inspiring collective action from all sectors to put promises into action.”
4) Rethink the role of nature for more innovative climate solutions.
A strong trend at this year’s Bonn Climate Change Conference was a focus on nature and nature-based solutions, something that is high on the agenda of the COP28 presidency. What is noticeable however is a growing interest in how nature-based solutions can be integrated into traditional approaches. The connection between nature and cities is also attracting a lot of attention.
Thomas Rebermark, Director of SIWI’s Swedish Water House, feels that the Bonn meeting is just one step in a more strategic pathway towards water and climate security.
“Water-related and nature-based climate solutions are still largely untapped, though more and more organizations are starting to see the potential. Both our report and the new assessment from the IPCC clearly describe the critical role water plays in climate action.
At this stage, however, we truly need political leadership and inspiring collective action from all sectors to put promises into action. This should be reflected not only in the outcomes of the Bonn Climate Change Conference , but at the UNFCCC COP28 and especially throughout next year when countries update their contributions to the Paris Agreement. Water is a powerful tool to fast-track climate mitigation and boost resilience. Let´s embark on that path across sectors,” Rebermark says.