December 7, 2018 Climate change

Climate is water

IWA connects professionals across sectors to deliver water-wise climate solutions


Improved resilience to climate change

Achieving the SDGs is intrinsically linked to water and climate change. While decision-making tools are important for human societies to thrive, states must succeed in adopting the international commitments made under the Paris Agreement. COP24 is the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris Agreement was signed. For IWA, however, climate action is not only a subject for international agreements. It is intrinsic in our IWA membership, and it is a fundamental obligation for all. IWA provides solutions for arising problems affecting our lives and the environment, today and tomorrow.

IWA is an accredited NGO at the Conference of the Parties (COP) and represents the voice of our network of water professionals in this global process, working with our members to deliver water-wise climate solutions from catchment to tap. In addition to the IWA members present at the Conference, IWA is represented by its President, Ms. Diane D’Arras, who participates in different discussions, namely on topics of finance and water-smart climate solutions.

Water is a connector that offers solutions to global challenges. It is everybody’s business and climate change affect ‘us all.

Climate change is a global challenge. Improving resilience to climate change requires multi-stakeholder collaboration across sectors. To this end, IWA has created cross-disciplinary networks through the Water-Wise Cities and Basins of the Future programmes to take cohesive collective action. Our leading network of water professionals connects with city administrations and decision-makers, urban planners, landscape architects, land and resource managers, basin agencies, and industries, among others, to champion sustainable water solutions that are robust and flexible in the face of global change pressures.

Water is critical to build resilience to climate change pressures

Climate change is a ticking time bomb, threatening humans, societies, and life in this planet. The impacts of climate change on the availability and quality of water resources is one of the most critical risks facing our world. Improved water management from catchment to consumer is a promising strategy to build more resilient communities, ecosystems and economies.

The IWA Principles for Water Wise Cities and the follow-on Action Agenda for Basin-Connected Cities provide frameworks for cities to take action in building resilience across scales – from building Regenerative Water Services, creating Water Sensitive Urban Design, ensuring Basin Connected Cities, and enabling Water-Wise Communities. Resilience also means identifying the Drivers for Action such as extreme events, declining water quality, and water availability; identifying and implementing the Pathways to Action through assessment, planning and implementation; and laying the Foundations for Action from developing a vision to building capacity to improving governance.

Water professionals’ knowledge and expertise is critical to lead the transition to low-carbon, climate resilient sustainable development.

Building resilience in cities requires an understanding of the flow of resources, especially the flows of water, into, within and out of the city. Improved water management from catchment to consumer is critical to prepare and adapt to future challenges. A key part of a resilience strategy is having a systems approach which considers the holistic nature of water, including the protection of water sources upstream, how water is managed within the urban environment, and the impacts of activities on water quality and quantity downstream.

As urban water practitioners and scientists form the core of our membership, IWA provides a set of tools, publications and working groups that support them in accelerating the transition to Climate Smart utilities that both mitigate their impact on climate, but also anticipate and deliver enhanced resilience to the impacts of climate change.

IWA members acting on climate resilient water have developed solutions such as the ECAM Tool. The Energy Performance and Carbon Assessment and Monitoring (ECAM) tool supports urban water utilities in becoming champions of the transition to a carbon neutral world through implementing measures that reduce their emissions, while adapting to climate change and grow their service boundary. The tool has been developed by ICRA, as part of the WaCCliM project, an initiative between IWA and GIZ.

IWA is also a partner in the development of the Flood and Drought Management Portal. We partner with our members to deliver on a change agenda towards water wise cities that both adapt and mitigate. Our member are the champions who activate “actors of change”: Arup has partnered with IWA to reach out to Cities and Urban planners, The SIAAP (greater Paris Sanitation Authority) has partnered with IWA to reach out to Utilities, and the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities has partnered with IWA to support the dissemination of innovative urban water research and solutions.

Addressing climate change requires rallying positive change and fundamental transformations in governance systems to better manage the associated risks. Improving rresilience is grounded on effective water governance, including active communication and partnership between upstream and downstream water agencies and other communities, both urban and rural.

More ambitious water-wise actions are needed to achieving the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. Climate change effects the water sector from all sides – floods and droughts, extreme weather events. IWA members work on the full water cycle to address these global and local water problems providing water-wise climate solutions. IWA helps shape our tomorrow’s water world.


Read more on IWA’s work on water and climate here