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Water Day at COP27: water is the source of life and livelihood

Amidst the thematic days at COP27, 14 November was Water Day, dedicated to the different topics of water scarcity, drought, cross-boundary cooperation and improvement of early warning systems.

Water is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights. Water is critical to achieving the highest attainable standard of human health, as well as food, livelihoods and ecosystem security. It is a key element of people’s social and cultural well-being and contributes to sustainable development. Water is the source of life and livelihood. Climate impacts on water and the linkages to wider, cross-cutting impacts on development and livelihoods are well documented by reports and analyses by the IPCC. Discussions at the Water Day covered all issues related to sustainable water resource management.

Twenty-five per cent of the global population is living in water-stressed countries and water is a top adaptation priority in 79 per cent of the Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement. Droughts accounted for 16 per cent of weather-, water- and climate-related disasters, 95 per cent of deaths and 26 per cent of economic losses. Over 20 million people have been internally displaced annually by weather-related extreme events since 2008, with storms and floods the most common drivers.

water day

These challenges will intensify with future climate change, population growth and increasing economic activities. To overcome these challenges and build resilient societies and economies we need close cooperation to strengthen technology innovations and knowledge transfer, as well as application in many fields:

increasing water use efficiency and water productivity;

  • strengthen end-to-end warning systems for floods, droughts and sea level rise;
  • low-cost water and waste treatment facilities;
  • desalination using renewable energy;
  • sustainable use of groundwater;
  • losses reduction;
  • regional development projects.

Objectives include: developing a robust and inclusive early warning system to enhance floods and droughts management at the regional scale; mainstreaming climate change aspects into national sustainable development policies; understanding the extent and magnitude of the risk of drought to the communities, environment, and economy, through continuous communication with stakeholders; promoting the reuse of agriculture drainage water and treated wastewater; using modern irrigation and appropriate smart irrigation techniques; capacity-building programs; synergy with various knowledge-sharing networks for best practices transfer; supporting comprehensive wetland restoration programs in the arid and semi-arid regions.

Water Day at COP27 commenced with the inauguration of the Action for Water Adaptation and Resilience (AWARe) initiative, in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This initiative aims to foster political efforts, practical action, knowledge sharing and field capacity development to place adaptive water management systems at the heart of the climate change adaptation agenda. Among others Hungary also joined the AWARe Initiative, as catalysing inclusive cooperation to address water as a key to climate change adaptation will be crucial in the coming years, given that a significant part of climate change challenges (nearly 80 per cent in Hungary) is of water nature. The aim of the initiative is to strengthen the knowledge base and technology transfer in order to build societies that are more resistant to water management challenges.

The AWARe Initiative aims at offering transitional adaptation solutions for the planet and people, starting with the world’s most vulnerable communities and ecosystems, including water-scarce countries. The global water crisis is currently affecting billions of people worldwide and is projected to be further aggravated by increasing demand, changing water availability and an increasing impact of floods and droughts, which calls for greater international cooperation. AWARe builds on and interlinks the Water and Climate Coalition (where former Hungarian President János Áder plays an active role) and is also set to contribute to the successful outcome of the 2023 UN Conference on Water. Its means of implementation include finance: coordinated financial support to local, national and regional action; technology: research and innovation to organise regional cooperation on research and innovation; and capacity building (training, technology transfer, knowledge exchange, roundtables and outreach activities).

A recent example of technology transfer and capacity building is the cooperation of Hungary and Ecuador. Chronic malnutrition affecting the population is a prominent problem in Ecuador, which affects 30 per cent of children under the age of two. One of the root causes of this is the lack of clean drinking water. Clean drinking water is not provided in a significant part of public education institutions and apartments. A good example of the solution is the water purification equipment provided by Hungary, which helps the Ecuadorian population to have access to high-quality drinking water. The first water purification equipment was delivered on June 10, 2022, in Muisne and the second one is expected to be delivered early next year in San Andrés de Canoa. Both projects are implemented with the support of the Hungarian Government and the equipment was manufactured by the Hungarian HWTC.

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