Much of the following article, written by GWP’s Programme Officer, Maika Müller, was published in the multi-stakeholder magazine ‘Outreach’ during the UNFCCC’s COP 20, in Lima, Peru, from 1-12 December 2014. It has been updated as a blog, taking into consideration the COP 20 outcomes.
Water is the common leverage through which a changing climate impacts us, but it is also the bloodstream of our well-being. The impacts of climate change through water are revealed in extreme weather events expressed by more floods, more droughts, and more storms. Notably, the world’s most vulnerable peoples, including women, children, and indigenous populations are hit worst by such climate events.
Water is a big player in creating a more climate resilient world: it is widely demonstrated that countries with robust water management systems, institutions, and water infrastructure are better prepared to cope with climate change impacts.
Sufficient financial resources and innovative approaches to financing are required to support developing countries in undertaking adaptation activities to effectively adapt to climate change. This means we need to assist countries in advancing water infrastructure, strengthening ‘no/low regret’ investments, and developing institutional capacity.
However, looking at the final outcomes of COP 20, water is not central to the global climate change agenda – and it should be. Even though countries have increasingly recognized the importance of water to climate change impacts since the climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, water is still absent from the formal negotiations and final decisions.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is expected to be operational by 2015, will have an important role in handling billions of dollars in climate finance in the coming years. With its paradigm shift towards a low-emission and a climate-resilient development pathway, the Fund plans to channel a greater share of new multilateral funding for adaptation projects, which are currently undercapitalized in the evolving global climate finance landscape.
In addition, the Fund emphasizes allocating a ‘50:50 balance’ for adaptation and mitigation activities and the increased pledges to the GCF. This is good news, especially if the Fund creates a “water window” to close the financial gap for adaptation activities implemented by countries for holistic water resources management.
When U.S. President Barack Obama announced a USD 3 billion pledge, he stressed that this “gives us the opportunity to help vulnerable communities with an early warning system, with stronger defences against storm surge, climate resilient infrastructure, to help farmers plant more durable crops.”
How can these ambitions be achieved?
GWP is responding to the emerging climate finance challenge through activities under its Water, Climate and Development Programme (WACDEP). The programme supports 60 countries in climate finance readiness. To support countries in leveraging efficient financing for climate resilient adaptation projects in water resources management, we must, among other actions:
- enhance the knowledge and capacities of partnerships, institutions and stakeholders to integrate water security and climate resilience in development planning and decision-making processes.
- support countries in preparing climate resilient “bankable” and tangible projects to leverage investments for water resources management.
- develop the capacity of planners and decision-makers to identify, develop and appraise ‘no/low regret’ investment plans – such as early warning systems and more resilient crops – to improve the resilience of natural resources in a sustainable way under future climate scenarios.
- support countries and enable governments to unlock financial sources from new and emerging climate funds and other sources such as development banks.
- contribute to the development of national adaptation plans (NAPs) and the formulation of projects and programmes to support water security and climate resilient development.
- strengthen the design of national drought and flood management policies through improved knowledge and access to scientific understanding of drought and floods, risk assessment, monitoring, prediction and early warning.