Water and Climate Change

Water is the primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change. Water availability is becoming less predictable in many places, and increased incidences of flooding threaten to destroy water points and sanitation facilities and contaminate water sources.

In some regions, droughts are exacerbating water scarcity and thereby negatively impacting people’s health and productivity. Ensuring that everyone has access to sustainable water and sanitation services is a critical climate change mitigation strategy for the years ahead.

A man serves lentils to a young girl at a feeding centre in Mogadishu, Somalia in 2017 during a severe drought. UN Photo/Tobin Jones

A man serves lentils to a young girl at a feeding centre in Mogadishu, Somalia in 2017 during a severe drought. UN Photo/Tobin Jones

Challenges

Higher temperatures and more extreme, less predictable, weather conditions are projected to affect availability and distribution of rainfall, snowmelt, river flows and groundwater, and further deteriorate water quality. Low-income communities, who are already the most vulnerable to any threats to water supply are likely to be worst affected.

More floods and severe droughts are predicted. Changes in water availability will also impact health and food security and have already proven to trigger refugee dynamics and political instability.

A piece by street artist Banksy near the Oval bridge in Camden, north London in view of the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009.

A piece by street artist Banksy near the Oval bridge in Camden, north London in view of the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009.

Opportunities

Water plays a pivotal role in how the world mitigates and adapts to the effects of climate change. An integrated view on water, the biosphere and environmental flows is required to devise sustainable agricultural and economic systems that will allow us to decelerate climate change, protect us from extremes and to adapt to the unavoidable at the same time.
Closing Ceremony of COP21, Paris, France. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Closing Ceremony of COP21, Paris, France. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. The agreement charts a new course in the global climate effort. Latest updates here.