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Accelerated action is urgently needed to address the Water-Related Consequences of Climate Change that impact People and the Planet

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Our ref.: 24565/2021/DSG/Water & Climate Coalitio

Your Excellency,

It is our honour and privilege to write to you concerning the effects of climate change and related water management issues. As Your Excellency is aware, climate change threatens us all and water is the primary vehicle through which we feel its impact.

As the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report underscores, climate change is dramatically affecting the water cycle, making droughts and floods more extreme and frequent and decreasing the natural water storage in ice and snow. Rising temperature and variability in flow patterns of water bodies also strongly affect water quality both in surface and groundwater. Changing precipitation patterns are already impacting agriculture, food systems, and livelihoods are becoming increasingly vulnerable, as well as ecosystems, and biodiversity. Rising sea levels threaten communities, infrastructure, coastal environments and aquifers. According to a recent UNICEF report on the impact of climate change on children, over one third of the world’s children (920 million) are currently severely exposed to water scarcity. Furthermore, the UN World Water development Report 2020, emphasizes that water is the “climate connector” that allows for greater collaboration and coordination across the majority of targets for climate change (Paris Agreement), sustainable development (2030 Agenda and its SDGs), and disaster risk reduction (Sendai Framework).

In this regard, Your Excellency, to address more effectively both the causes and the effects of climate change, as well as the many related risks, we must endeavour to consider the water dimensions of climate change adaptation and mitigation action more aptly. As you will recall, the United Nations have put in place mechanisms to address these challenges in a coherent manner through the UN-Water SDG 6 Global Accelerator Framework and the UN-Water Action Decade.

The increased sharing of data, information and knowledge will help us to answer the questions of when, where and how much water of which quality, can be supplied now and in the future for people and a healthy planetary ecosystem. Solutions require information systems to improve storage and distribution of water as well as information driven early warning systems that will help communities to be better prepared and more resilient in the face of droughts and floods and water quality challenges.

In this critical context, we the undersigned, seek to accelerate efforts on integrated water and climate action and call for addressing associated adverse effects like pollution, biodiversity loss, food security and health as an urgent measure to address current water threats and the challenges of our rapidly changing climate and environment.

We would, therefore, be grateful if, Your Excellency, could join us in:

  • Integrating the water and climate agendas at a national level through national adaptation and resilience planning and at the regional level, through transboundary cooperation;

  • Informing the decision-makers of today and tomorrow on the benefit of integrated water and climate action through video messages and events that we will organize, including at UNFCCC COP26 and COP27, UNCCD COP15, the Planet Budapest summit as well as in preparation of the 2023 UN Conference on Water;

  • Supporting capacity-building efforts to help people and institutions to deliver the required adaptation and resilience action in synergy with the capacity-building component of the SDG 6 Global Acceleration;

  • Promoting and financing global water monitoring, information and stock take systems to provide timely knowledge about the current and future water availability and quality levels at the global-, regional- and local- levels;

  • Nominating technical and scientific experts to work with us in the UN-Water Accelerator Framework for SDG 6 in securing water availability of appropriate quality to ensure the well-being of humans and the functioning of ecosystems;

  • Promoting technical, political and scientific cooperation at the basin, regional and global levels and making available political and financial support for basin and regional cooperation on adaptation and integrate capacity development;

  • Making sure that everyone on our planet has access to timely warnings about water-related disasters to help save lives and protect livelihoods through strengthening the political agenda for recognizing disaster risk warnings as a global public good;

  • Boldly committing in present and future Nationally Determined Contributions, considering the water dependency and implications of mitigation targets;

  • Informing and supporting development efforts towards community resilience, helping people and institutions engage in the required adaptation and resilience action in an integrated and inclusive manner;

  • Promoting a proactive approach to flood and drought management based on three pillars: monitoring, forecasting and early warning; vulnerability and impact assessment; and preparedness, mitigation and response;

  • Supporting the integration of data and projections on climate and water risks into the design of resilient infrastructure, including water and sanitation services, especially for the most vulnerable.

The United Nations system, engaging in a coordinated manner through the decades of water action and action on the SDGs, and the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework, stands ready to support your country in ensuring that climate and water action goes hand in hand.

For further information please contact our joint Secretariat at WaterClimateCoalition@wmo.int

Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration.

Prof. Petteri Taalas
Secretary-General
World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Dr Qu Dongyu
Director-General
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)

Ms Audrey Azoulay
Director General
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Director General
World Health Organization (WHO)

Mr Gilbert F. Houngbo
President
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Chair
UN-Water

Ms Inger Andersen
Executive Director
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Ms Henrietta H. Fore
Executive Director
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

Ms Olga Algayerova
Executive Secretary
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

Dr David M. Malone
Rector
United Nations University (UNU)

Mr Dario Soto-Abril
Executive Secretary and CEO
Global Water Partnership (GWP)