Why water is crucial to climate mitigation

Jun 04 2021

If we want to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must understand the linkages between climate, freshwater and other environmental issues. World Environment Day 2021 (5 June) calls for urgent action to revive damaged and degraded ecosystems, which should also be at the centre of the climate debate.

A new joint research project indicates freshwater’s crucial role in climate mitigation, while providing numerous co-benefits for climate adaptation, biodiversity, ecosystem services and human health. Some initial findings will be presented at the climate summit COP 26 in November, where they can hopefully inspire countries to pay more attention to water in their climate policies.

SIWI and the SIWI-UNDP’s Water Governance Facility are working on the report together with GIZ, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Stockholm Resilience Centre. What is particularly noteworthy about the study is its focus on water-related climate mitigation strategies (to reduce emissions) – traditionally water has mainly been seen as useful for climate adaptation.

Mitigation strategies in the context of water can be broadly classified as nature-based or technology-driven. In nature-based mitigation, ecosystems act as carbon sinks, absorbing greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining or enhancing biodiversity. Tech-driven solutions involve for example wastewater management and treatment, and circular systems of reusing and recycling water. Both kinds of solutions must be used much more broadly to address climate change.

Source: SIWI