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Water Is Critical To Avert Climate Disaster – Report


(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Water is critical to avert a climate disaster, a new landmark report which was presented at the recently concluded 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt, has warned.

The report which was facilitated by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is the first-ever summary climate of freshwater’s role in climate mitigation shows how countries must rethink their climate strategies.

The report entitled, “The essential drop to reach Net-Zero: Unpacking Freshwater’s Role in Climate Change Mitigation”, is a joint project, involving SIWI, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), the German development agency GIZ, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

For more than two years, 40 researchers have reviewed available scientific research on the topic of water and climate mitigation. The resulting report reveals that the role of freshwater in mitigation is much greater than commonly acknowledged and that it will be even more crucial in the coming years when large parts of the world will suffer from growing water scarcity.

At COP27, the report was presented by Dr Malin Lundberg Ingemarsson of SIWA and Prof. Johan Rockström, the Director of the PIK.
Dr. Ingemarsson, who led the study said the report shows that water could be the make-or-break factor that determines if we manage to avoid a climate disaster.

“The choice is ours – the report also presents many powerful water-related climate solutions that could make climate strategies much more effective”, she said.

She also stressed the need for a new way of thinking about climate change.

“Just like Johan Rockström, she highlighted the interconnected nature of today’s many challenges. It is not possible to tackle for example climate, water, energy, and food as separate problems, but integrated approaches offer a realistic way forward.

“We most see how these challenges are connected, not least through their dependence on a functioning water cycle, and then find solutions that solve more than one problem at a time. Integrated approaches help us avoid risks and design more effective climate strategies with co-benefits for ecosystems, biodiversity, soils, and livelihoods”, she added.



Dr. Ingemarsson also expressed optimism that the report will inspire more people to apply this way of thinking. “Many decision-makers are still not aware of the full potential of water-related climate strategies or the many benefits of working with nature, but these are solutions we cannot afford to overlook”, stressed.

While speaking earlier, Prof. Rockström set the scene by noting how the role of water for climate has often been overlooked but that this needs to change.

“It is urgent that the world focuses all attention on the double facts that water is the number one challenge for climate adaptation due to droughts and floods, and a key challenge for mitigation. There is no safe climate future well below 2 degrees Celsius without a functioning hydrological cycle. We only have one hydrological cycle, and we must collaborate to ensure that it is functioning”, he further explained.

He also described how, as a rule of thumb, every one-degree of global warming adds seven percent more moisture into the atmosphere which powers up the water cycle (or hydrological cycle) and triggers more and more extreme events.

These droughts, forest fires and floods, according to him, have a devastating impact on food security, economies, and livelihoods, adding that the functioning of the water cycle is therefore closely linked to many of today’s complex challenges, including the ecological crisis, climate change, zoonotic diseases, and geopolitical turbulence.

Many of the other speakers at the event also emphasized the critical role of water. Dr Lan Wang-Erlandsson from the Stockholm Resilience Centre said climate mitigation is not possible without water.

Earlier this year she presented research on the precarious state of global water when her team announced that the planetary boundary for freshwater now seems to have been transgressed. But working with the new report on water and climate mitigation, she has also seen how positive changes can be made.

“The report shows why it is so important to mainstream freshwater into climate planning and how this can be done”, she stressed.


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