Protecting our people and future generations: Water and climate leaders call for urgent action

Better data is needed for better decision making

Geneva, 8 March 2022 (WMO) – Leaders of the Water and Climate Coalition have called for more urgent and united action “to protect our people and future generations” in the face of alarming new scientific evidence of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change growing global threats to water availability and water-related risks.

Around half of the world’s population currently experiences severe water scarcity for at least part of the year and this is expected to worsen as climate change alters rainfall patterns with consequences across the cycle. some water. The impacts of hydrological changes due to retreating glaciers and thawing permafrost are approaching the point of no return.

Only 0.5% of the water on Earth is usable and available as fresh water. But over the past 20 years, the Earth’s water storage – all water above and below ground, including soil moisture, snow and ice – has dropped to a rate higher than the total human water consumption per year. This has huge ramifications for future water security, given population growth and environmental degradation.

“We are leading the way in rethinking how our societies and economies are best resilient to climate change. Improving the way we use water is a pathway to developing food security, protecting health and livelihoods, promoting the just transition to clean energy, building smart cities for water and climate, protecting the environment, build resilient economies, help the world achieve the SDGs and achieve global climate commitments,” said the Water and Climate Coalition Leaders in a call to action.

Recognizing that “we can’t manage what we don’t measure”, Coalition for Water and Climate leaders also pledged to build a global water information system to fill the gaps when it comes to reliable data and actionable information.

“We need data to understand how climate change is affecting our water systems; to understand where, how much and in what quality water is and will be available. We need information to know where and how our actions can best support our access to the precious resource and protect us from water-related hazards and disasters. Data is also essential for smart decision-making,” the call to action said.

“Yet there are major shortcomings; data is scattered, inconsistent and incomplete.

Leaders of the Water and Climate Coalition include high-level representatives from countries vulnerable to melting glaciers, floods and drought, as well as UN and development agencies, business, civil society and youth. The distinguished panel is responsible for providing strategic guidance on integrating the water and climate agendas and accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Water-related impacts, adaptation and vulnerability

New IPCC report on climate change 2022: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability shows the scale of the looming water crisis and the immense challenges for water management.

Water availability from melting snow – a major source of irrigation in some parts of the world – is projected to decrease, while predicted global glacier mass loss will reduce water availability for agriculture, l hydroelectricity and human settlements in the medium and long term.

Changes in magnitude, timing and extremes associated with river flow are expected to negatively impact freshwater ecosystems in many watersheds. Direct flood damage will increase in magnitude with every fraction of a degree increase in temperature.

According to the IPCC report, adaptation to water-related risks and impacts constitutes the majority of all documented climate change adaptation policies. But he warns of the risk that poorly managed adaptation measures could be counterproductive – for example, poorly managed irrigation projects could reduce the risk of drought, but also accelerate the depletion of groundwater and other water sources and increase soil salinization.

Call to action:

Faced with growing challenges and the urgency to act, Water and Climate Leaders call for:

  • An integrated approach to water and climate – Recognizing the role of water for informed decision-making in climate change mitigation and adaptation actions.
  • International support to improve water data and information for a climate-ready world – Work together to operationalize a global water information system that provides status, assessment and insights for decisions smart about climate and water.
  • Partners to join us in the implementation-Accompanying solutions for informed decision-making: a water and climate inventory, an information mechanism on the cryosphere, a new financing logic, local commitment and watershed cooperation.
  • Recognize the need to protect glaciers – Understand the role of glaciers as one of the most critical sources of fresh water and join forces to preserve these resources through an International Year of Glacier Preservation 2025.

Remarks:

The “Water and Climate Leaders” are a panel of eminent representatives of UN members, civil society and the private sector, invited by WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas and President on water, Gilbert Houngbo.

The Water and Climate Coalition seeks to accelerate progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 6 (water and sanitation) with a concrete action mechanism as the world falls far short of ensuring water resilient adaptation to climate change as well as demographic and socio-economic development for the future.

The World Meteorological Organization is the authorized voice of the United Nations system

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