With urgent action needed on mitigation and adaptation, the International Water Association is calling on utilities around the world, regardless of their size or location, to endorse a shared vision to build momentum for greater progress.
Utilities are urged to increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change to maintain and improve their service levels. The emissions reported by water and wastewater utilities in various countries vary from 3 to 7% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Nature 2020, Environmental Research 2020). Taking a holistic water cycle approach that encompasses emissions from unconnected residential areas, discharge of untreated sewage into rivers, and industrial treatment facilities would significantly amplify the contribution of GHG emissions. Therefore, utilities are critical to the cities’ successful climate adaptation and should act towards global decarbonisation.
IWA invites you, as a water and sanitation professional and/or as a utility leader, to endorse the Climate Smart Utilities Vision. By endorsing the vision, will be part of an initiative aimed at building a community of leaders that can inspire utilities and their governance structures, regulators, and urban planners to become increasingly Climate Smart, deliver innovation, tools and knowledge exchange to support the green transition. By endorsing the vision, you act as a Climate Smart player, providing inspiration and momentum for all utilities worldwide to achieve the cultural shift needed on three interconnected pillars:
The IWA Climate Smart Utilities Initiative has been launched to support all utilities worldwide to act collectively and share knowledge.
Climate Smart Utilities are water, sanitation, and urban drainage service providers that are improving their climate resilience by adapting to a changing climate while contributing to a significant and sustainable reduction of carbon emissions. The initiative is structured around four components:
This programme aims to inspire utilities to become increasingly Climate Smart and embrace the cultural shift required for a water-wise future
The recognition programme offers an outstanding opportunity to self-reflect on the utility’s Climate Smart journey, present actions to an international audience, and share aspirations to achieve a climate smart water sector. The first edition of the IWA Climate Smart Utilities Recognition Programme was launched in 2022. Stories and actions by Climate Smart Utilities worldwide were presented and celebrated at the IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition (WWC&E), held in September 2022 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The second edition will take place in 2023 and selected utilities will be invited to present their story at the IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition (WDC&E) on 10-14 December 2023 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The 2023 edition has a special focus on low- and middle-income countries and seeks to raise awareness of the steps being taken by water and sanitation utilities operating in challenging conditions to respond to climate change. This initiative seeks to recognise ambitious and innovative utilities in low- and middle-income countries that are leading the way towards a low carbon water and sanitation sector, embracing the change needed to adapt to and mitigate climate change while raising awareness among citizens and industries, engaging regulators, and inspiring other utilities to take action.
Climate Smart Utilities plan to anticipate future threats from climate change impacts. Investments to increase resilience contribute to reducing GHG emissions when possible. This translates into:
The transition towards a smart water future requires a reduction in the utility’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with well-defined and strategically planned reduction targets implemented throughout the entire service chain. This translates into:
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the International Water Association (IWA) have been working together with their partners from Mexico, Peru, Jordan and Thailand on the Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation project (WaCCliM). The aim has been to use GHG emission-reducing technologies to improve the carbon balance of water and wastewater companies while maintaining or even improving service levels and improving these companies cost effectiveness.
Climate Smart Utilities are leaders driving the transition through the exchange of knowledge and the development of innovative, equitable solutions for climate adaptation and the reduction of GHG emissions. This translates into a robust culture of learning and sharing on local, national, and international levels.
Low-carbon, low-energy solutions in the water sector make economic sense. Utilities can now be guided towards water and energy efficiency, as well as mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the Roadmap to a Low-Carbon Urban Water Utility and a website with all a utility needs to successfully transition to a low-carbon urban water utility.
The Roadmap guides utilities to:
A tool to transition towards carbon neutrality in the water sector from IWA on Vimeo (video also available in Spanish here).
IWA members have established a group on Low Energy Low-Carbon Utilities. Join the group and participate in discussions on IWA Connect Plus.
For a comprehensive and up to date list of Climate Smart Resources, head to the climatesmartwater.org website and check out the library!