COP16 proved to be a good meeting for water. For the first time, “climate people” and “water people” seemed to reach if not a mutual understanding then at least a first attempt to start discussions on how the two perspectives can be merged. The highlight came on Saturday December 4th when six countries came up with a formal proposal to start addressing water under the scientific advisory body under the climate convention.
For the Water and Climate Coalition COP16 proved to be two busy weeks filled with meetings with negotiators, partner organisations and interested parties. In addition, the Coalition arranged several public events. Below is an attempt to report back from these sessions.
Side Event Dec 6th: Water, Climate and Development: Linking up development agendas and putting water security first.
The Water and Climate Coalition, the Global Water Partnership and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung organised the joint side event “Water, Climate and Development: Linking up development agendas and putting water security first”. Moderated by Ms Letitia Obeng, Chair of the Global Water Partnership, the six speakers on the panel shared their different views on meeting the water, development and climate challenges.
- Mr Bai Mass Taal, Executive Secretary of AMCOW, presented an intivitative by GWP and AMCOW which will support African countries in adapting to climate change.
- Mr Anders Berntell of SIWI and the Water and Climate Coalition presented the Coalition’s work and laid out the proposed work programme on water and climate.
- Ms Ursula-Shäfer Preuss, Vice President of ADB brought an Asian perspective on climate change, highlighting the challenges of rapid urbanisation and growing cities.
- Mr Rolando Castro of FAN stressed the need to enable and preserve healthy ecosystems in order to build resilience.
- Ms Kulthuom Omari of HBF spoke on the gender perspectives on water.
- Mr Aart van der Horst from the Dutch delegation brought insights and perspective from inside the negotiations.
The event drew an audience of close to 100 people and provoked an interesting debate on diverse water and development issues. Questions from the audience included concerns on private sector and trade interest in water, questions on how to meet the need for capacity building on water change, and input on how to spread the word on the Coalition’s proposed work programme.
The Side Event panel.
Press Conference, Dec 6th: “Putting Water Security First”.
The press confrence arranged on Monday December 6th presented the Water and Climate Coalition with an opportunity to present its work to an audience of journalists present at COP16 in Cancun. The panel of speakers from the coalition made efforts to explain the linkages between water resources and climate change. Two days earlier, on Saturday 4 December, six countries at COP16 had made a formal request to start discussions on water under the SBSTA – the body which provides scientific and technical support to the climate convention. This development which is much welcomed by the Coalition was also commented upon during the press conference. Prior to the press conference a press release had been sent out.
Karin Lexén and Hannah Stoddart at the press conference.
High-level panel, December 8th
On behalf of the Water and Climate Coalition, Mr Anders Berntell of SIWI gave a presentation at the high-level panel which marked the closing of the Dialogs on water and climate. The session, which was held in the Mexican pavilion at COP16 presented an impressive line-up of high profile speakers within the global water, environment, investment and development communities.
Mr Anders Berntell spoke on water as being the blood stream of our planet, fundamental to all functions of society. He also stressed the need for putting water on the global climate agenda and expressed the Coalition’s support for the proposal put forward by six countries at COP16 earlier this week to start a discussion on water under the climate convention.
Other speakers further highlighted the cross cutting nature of water and called for strengthening of institutions, enhanced focus on capacity building and more research and data – measures which would enable the water community to better face the challenges connected to climate change.
By: Lovisa Selander, Stockholm International Water Institute