Water challenges featured on the agenda as one of the “action themes” at January's Climate Adaptation Summit 2021, hosted virtually by the Netherlands, with more than 30 world leaders stating unequivocally their firm support of climate adaptation action, and marking a return to the world climate stage of the United States.
“Investing in water is our best bet for effective climate adaptation action,” said Dutch minister of infrastructure and water management, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, in her opening speech at the Anchoring Event on Water.
“As more than 90 Percent of disasters worldwide are water-related, the conclusion is simple: water has to be the driving force of resilient and adaptive climate policies. We have to improve the way we manage the challenges of having too much water, too little water, and water that is too dirty,” said van Nieuwenhuizen.
Headliners at the Anchoring Event on Water included senior government ministers from, Signapore, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, as well as the chair of UN-Water, Gilbert Houngbo, Juergen Voegele, VP for sustainable development at the World Bank, and senior figures from NGOs and food production.
Water resilience is also one of five principles of accelerating and scaling urban climate adaptation announced during the summit’s opening in a joint statement issued by the 1000 Cities Adapt Now global program.
Laying out a 10-year plan, lead coalition partners (the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), World Resources Institute (WRI), the Resilient Cities Network and UN-Habitat) identified urban water resilience as one of three high-impact adaptation solutions.
Convened by an A-list line-up of world leaders and stakeholders, including current and former Secretaries General of the UN António Manuel Guterres and Ban Ki-moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, MD of the IMF Kristalina Georgieva, Indian Prime Minister Modi and Pope Francis, CAS 2021 launched what it terms “a comprehensive Adaptation Action Agenda, setting out clear commitments to deliver concrete new endeavours and partnerships to make our world more resilient to the effects of climate change”.
It had been unclear until shortly before the event whether the US would participate. However, in a video address, new US Climate Envoy John Kerry, making his first public appearance in the role, gave emphatic assurances that the new Biden administration will help promote more ambition in adaptation and resilience.
“We’re proud to be back,” he said. “We come back with humility for the absence of the last four years and we’ll do everything we can to make up for it.”
Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng called on the international community to redouble their adaptation efforts and to implement the adaptation commitments made in the Paris Agreement saying: “We live in the same global village.”
Organisers of CAS 2021 view the event as crucial to sustaining momentum in the lead-up to the postponed COP26, now scheduled for November this year in Glasgow, Scotland. Launching the Adaptation Action Coalition at CAS 2021, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to set the agenda ahead of COP26.
Developed by the UK in partnership with Egypt, Bangladesh, Malawi, the Netherlands, Saint Lucia and the United Nations, this new coalition intends to turn international political commitments made through the United Nations Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience into on-the-ground support for vulnerable communities.