Policy Brief.2023

Guide to climate-smart and water-wise cities

This policy brief will help decision-makers in cities develop more effective climate strategies. It builds on insights from the landmark report The Essential Drop to Net-Zero: Unpacking Freshwater’s Role in Climate Change Mitigation. Summarizing current research, the report identifies new approaches to climate planning with water as the starting point.

Malin Gustafsson (Swedish Water House)
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Malin Lundberg Ingemarsson, PhD
Programme Manager,
Swedish Water House
Jakob Schabus
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Jakob Schabus
Communications Manager,

How cities manage water is a question of enormous importance not just for their own future but for the entire planet. In a rapidly urbanizing world, choices made by cities will impact people and ecosystems, near and far away. At the same time, many of the world’s fastest growing cities are located in low-income countries and should not be left to fend for themselves at a time when global heating is making city life much more difficult.

In this policy brief we have demonstrated the critical role of cities in climate mitigation, which is further proof that it must be a shared global responsibility and interest such that cities everywhere can become more resilient, climate-smart, and water-wise.

We have also pointed to measures that cities across the world can take. The report The Essential Drop to Net-Zero: Unpacking Freshwater’s Role in Climate Mitigation has identified a range of solutions that offer multiple benefits simultaneously, for example reducing greenhouse gas emissions while also safeguarding freshwater resources, protecting biodiversity, lowering disaster risks, and ensuring sustainable livelihoods.

The essential drop to Net-Zero: Unpacking freshwater’s role in climate change mitigation

The role of water in climate mitigation is much greater than commonly understood, according to the first-ever summary of current research on the topic. . This report shows a new way of thinking about climate change that can lead to more effective solutions.

Learn more abou this groundbreaking report
Macro view of a water droplet in balance on a parachutes dandelion on a metal blue / teal blurry background