Six countries from around the world called for water to be put on the climate agenda during the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The countries highlighted that climate change stands to have a significant impact on water resources, and stressed further discussions on this issue need to be addressed within the climate framework. The call, which was put forward by both Ecuador and Sudan, was supported by Syria, Chile, El Salvador and Sierra Leone. The six countries proposed that water should be put on the agenda for the next meeting of the body which provides scientific and technical advice to the climate convention, SBSTA.
"It will be significant to see water resources taken up in the SBSTA agenda, it is a first step in creating better ways of addressing water issues under the UNFCCC", said Mark Smith, Head of the IUCN Water Programme.
"Ecuador felt that water should be addressed more prominently at the climate change negotiations", said the representative of Ecuador, Undersecretary Tarsicio Granizo. "Climate change impacts will primarily be felt through water, and the way we manage our water will be critical to our resilience. This issue has long been neglected at the intergovernmental level and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss it at greater length in the future".
The representative of Ecuador also noted that his country has recognised that water is a human right.
"Sudan understands the challenges facing countries through the impacts of climate change on water resources", said Lumumba Di-Aping who represents Sudan. "Yet so far we have not addressed this issue adequately through the climate change negotiations. Getting water on the agenda will help us to identify these challenges and propose solutions".
The proposal was much welcomed by the Water and Climate Coalition, an alliance of twelve international organisations and research centres, led by the Stakeholder Forum and SIWI, which works to raise the profile of water issues in the context of the climate negotiations. IUCN is a member of the Water and Climate Coalition.
"Water has previously been more or less absent from the discussions at the climate negotiations", says Hannah Stoddart of the Water and Climate Coalition and the Stakeholder Forum. "The fact that several countries formally addressed this issue today is a big breakthrough".
In the run up to COP-16, the Water and Climate Coalition has been proposing the establishment of a work programme on water under the Convention, which would develop policy guidelines, provide advice to the climate change funds and promote action on water related issues at a country level.
Karin Lexen of the Water and Climate Coalition and the Stockholm International Water Institute explains why this is important: "Climate change will have a drastic impact on the world’s water resources. An increased global temperature will lead to changes in the water cycle that will affect people’s livelihoods and development opportunities. Millions more people will face water scarcity, and will have to deal with water hazards including floods, droughts and glacier-melt".
About the Water and Climate Coalition
The Water and Climate Coalition is a global coalition of organisations seeking to place water management at the heart of global climate change policy. The members of the Water and Climate Coalition are: Cap-Net, Chartered Institute for Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Freshwater Action Network (FAN), Green Cross International, International Water Association (IWA), Progressio, University of North Carolina (UNC) Water Institute and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Collaborative partners are: Co-operative Programme on Water and Climate (CPWC) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP). The secretariat of the Water and Climate Coalition is run by Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).