Leaders urge negotiators to find solutions to world’s water crises
LEADERS, water experts and development professionals who gathered in Stockholm urged climate negotiators to ensure that water is thoroughly integrated in the global 2015 as a means of solving world’s several escalating water crises.
This year, World Water Week – themed Water for Development – had 3,300 participants from 125 countries, representing governments, academia, civil society, international organizations, the private sector, and many others. Both World Water Week and Stockholm Water Prize celebrated their 25th jubilee.
SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren summarized the voices of the Week when he said: “water is what binds together all the aspects of climate change. Climate change is water change.”
The impact of climate change is felt through water, with flooding, erratic rain patterns, pro-longed droughts, and other extreme weather events. Water is also critical for successful climate change mitigation, as many efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions depend on reliable access to water resources.
“It is absolutely vital that water is a part of both voluntary initiatives to mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as of the Climate Convention itself,” said Karin Lexén, Director of World Water Week, International Processes and Prizes.
This year, a decision on the Sustainable Development Goals will be followed by a new climate deal at COP21 in France. Water’s role in these processes, and in development, is crucial. With water availability severely altered by climate change, and a growing world population needing more food and demanding more goods and services, time is not on our side.
Sweden’s Minister for Climate and Environment and Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Åsa Romson, echoed SIWI’s message: “If waters are not managed properly and water resources management is not well integrated in climate efforts, climate impacts will have a significant effect on our societies – it is a challenge for all countries.”
She added that “I want to encourage further discussions on how to strengthen water resilience as part of the Action agenda and to make sure that climate investments, including through the Green Climate Fund, can support water resilience.”
Dr Benedito Braga, Secretary of State for Sanitation and Water Resources for the state of São Paulo in Brazil and President of the World Water Council, said that “Water security is probably the greatest human challenge of this century.”
In a passionate plea to negotiators in Paris, the President of Marshall Islands, Christopher J Loeak, earlier in the week said he was not sure if he dared hope for the strongest possible wording in the climate agreement, but said he expected the world to make a historic pledge that would not only save his country, but also the world. “From the Horn of Africa, over the Sahel, to São Paulo, California and China, people’s perseverance is being tested. We can no longer take a steady water supply for granted. The many local water crises today combine into a severe global water situation of great concern to all of us,” Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) told the opening session.
In his opening address, the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven said “when the international community is shaping a new sustainable development agenda, water management and allocation must be at its heart. Not only as a separate goal but as an essential vehicle for development and health.”
Painting a very serious picture when talking about climate change and the effect it has on his small island nation, the President of the Marshall Islands, Christopher J. Loeak said: “We are a country contemplating a future where we are literally being wiped off the map of the world. As the leader of my country I cannot look my people in the eyes and with good conscience say that everything will be ok, when I know the world continues to travel down a very destructive path.”