The Goal of the initiative is to assist water, wastewater, and urban drainage companies in improving their climate resilience by adapting to a changing climate while contributing to significant and sustainable reduction of carbon emissions.
The initiative aims to deliver value to utilities and inspire the wider water professional community.
The Initiative is structured around four components:
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.
Urban water management is one of the urban services most affected by the impacts of climate change, which threatens the capacity of service providers to deliver safe water, protect rivers and oceans, as well as protect people and assets from flooding, in alignment with the SDGs. Utilities need to increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change to improve or maintain service levels. While water, sanitation and urban drainage utilities are the cornerstone of cities’ climate adaptation strategies, they can also contribute up to 15% to their cities’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Utilities can take action towards global decarbonisation.
IWA invites you, as a Utility Leader, to endorse its vision of the transition towards Climate Smart Utilities, as a means to build a community of leaders who inspire all utilities, their governance structures, their regulators and urban planners to become increasingly Climate Smart, and as a means to guide innovation, tools and knowledge exchange to support this transition. By endorsing this vision, you act as a champion, providing inspiration and momentum for all utilities to achieve the cultural shift needed on three interconnected pillars:
In April 2022, IWA launched a dedicated recognition programme for water, wastewater, and urban drainage utilities willing to improve their climate resilience and showcase their actions.
The IWA Climate Smart Utilities Recognition Programme aims to inspire utilities to be increasingly Climate Smart and to embrace the cultural shift on three interconnected pillars for action: adaptation, mitigation, and leadership.
The IWA Climate Smart Utilities initiative invites utilities who are already taking any kind of climate smart action to apply to the IWA Climate Smart Recognition Programme, as part of the three iterative steps of the Climate Smart journey:
This first edition was brought to the water community thanks to the support of Xylem. Submissions have been assessed by an independent panel.
Climate variability and change is disrupting the water cycle. Changing weather and water patterns are driving global water scarcity, and increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, which has impacts across scales. Resilience is more than implementing the right technology or practice to assess and address risks of extreme events. It is an approach that should be part of a coherent and holistic strategy to ensure sustainable water resources and safe and secure water supply.
Resilience needs to be built and coordinated at the basin, city and utility level to ensure adaptation measures for water systems are effective and integrate with other urban services. With the aim of empowering professionals working at the utility, city or basin level to be at the forefront of climate smart water management, IWA offers the latest knowledge, resources and tools developed, co-designed and tested in collaboration with different end-users.
Carbon and greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change. Changes in our climate are changes in water, as these greenhouse gases are directly impacting the availability and quality of both source and receiving waters. The water industry is a prime victim in bearing the impacts of climate change, but it is also a source of global carbon emissions from energy consumption, as well as process emissions from nitrous oxides and methane emissions in wastewater systems. The water sector can therefore contribute its share to meeting the internationally agreed target of below 2°C rise in global temperature.
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.
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.
For a comprehensive and up to date list of Climate Smart Resources, head to the climatesmartwater.org website and check out the library!