Strengthening coordinated water and climate actions in Africa: Building on the interlinkages between SDG 6 and SDG 13

Accra, Ghana
06 - Clean Water and Sanitation
13 - Climate Action

To comply with the Paris Agreement, countries are requested to submit Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to demonstrate prioritised areas, challenges and planning with regard to climate change. In the UNFCCC Secretariat’s synthesis of NDCs -which captures the submissions of 161 parties – water emerges as the leading sector for adaptation action and is emphasized by 137 low-income countries. The water sector is referred to as the most vulnerable sector; floods and droughts are raised as the top two key climate hazards (identified by 82 and 77 countries respectively). Moreover, countries draw attention to the proportion of people employed in vulnerable sectors like water, indicating large social, economic and political consequences of those climate change impacts. In addition, poor infrastructure and institutional capacity are highlighted as limiting factors. (UNFCCC, 2016).

The Climate Chance Summit– Africa 2019 took place in Accra from 16-18 October and brought together local governments, businesses, NGOs, scientists, representatives from agricultural, youth, women and indigenous organizations and citizens, to show the progress of their actions across Africa, point out solutions for a more significant scale and highlight the opportunities for new initiatives emerging from climate action in the African continent. “Adaptation and Water in Africa” was one of the 9 main themes.

The Side Event was organized by UNESCO-WWAP, UNESCO National Office to Ghana, UNECA, and the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa. Speakers and participants were drawn from African Member States of ECA, key private sector organizations, local actors and civil society organizations attending the Climate Chance Summit -Africa 2019.  In total there were about 50 participants with some walking in as the event progressed.

The side event brought together stakeholders from the Water and Climate communities to discuss and showcase how water contributes to implement the Paris Agreement– looking for instance at adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage. There were reflections on the different targets under SDG13 and presentations of examples of countries integrating climate change measures into water policies, strategies and planning (target 13.2). For the Africa region, focus was placed on droughts and floods as the key linkages with climate change adaptation.

Welcoming remarks were made by the Representative of UNESCO in Ghana, Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo, the Head of IWMI Office in West Africa, Dr. Olufunke Cofie and the Director of Ghana Water Research Institute, Dr. Mike Yaw Osei-Atweneboanna. The Event was formally opened by the Deputy Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources of Ghana, Hon. Patrick Yaw Boamah.

The event also facilitated discussion on challenges, lessons learned, and recommendations of how partnerships across these topics could be strengthened. The event also focused on the positive aspects and possibilities of managing climate and water in a more coordinated and sustainable manner and l identified key messages to disseminate at strategic international of both sectors: CoP 25 and World Water Forum. Case studies from Ethiopia and Ghana were presented and Panellists were drawn from UNESCO WWAP, ICLEI, Governments of Ethiopia and Ghana.