Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Countries call for water to be addressed in the climate negotiations

CANCUN. Over the weekend, six countries from around the world called for water to be put on the climate agenda at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun. The countries highlighted the fact that climate change stands to have a significant impact on water resources, and stressed the need for further discussions on how this issue can be addressed within the climate framework.

The call, which was put forward by both Ecuador and Sudan, was further 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, the SBSTA.

  • Ecuador feels 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 which works to raise the profile of water issues in the context of the climate negotiations.

  • 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.

Natalie Seguin of Freshwater Action Network (FAN) says:

  • To help communities and countries deal with climate change challenges, water should be integrated in the climate convention processes not as a sector but as a cross cutting natural resource. It's crucial to strengthen water aspects on adaptation processes but also understand the relations with mitigation.

Press Conference:
The Water and Climate Coalition will be holding a press conference at COP-16 on Monday December 6. Title: “Putting Water Security First”. Time: 14.30-15.00. Place: Press conference room “Luna”, ground floor of the Moon Palace Azteca/Expo Centre.

Read the draft paper on a work programme on water under the UNFCCC

Find out more about how FAN is getting involved

6th December 2010