Cop23: Water infrastructure investment must triple to combat climate change

As the COP23 climate conference,  commences in Bonn, the World Water Council (WWC) has reported that financial investment into water infrastructure needs to triple to €255 bn annually to combat climate change and meet sanitation targets. The climate summit in Bonn has designated 10 November as Water Action Day and will explore the relationships between climate change, human wellbeing and water security.

According to the WWC, €100bn will be needed annually to create adequate new water infrastructure, while a further €155bn will be required to improve current equipment so that systems can adapt to changing climates and mitigate the threats of global warming.

The UN indicates that around 80% of countries have insufficient funding to meet national requirements and targets for drinking water and sanitation. WWC has called on governments and investors to prioritise finance for new water infrastructure as well as operating and maintenance coverage.

Globally, it is estimated that the cost of water insecurity has reached $500bn annually, and despite most nations increasing budgets for water management the WWC claimed that many will fail to comply with goal Six of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

“Initially climate change was just seen as something we had to deal with. Now it is increasingly seen as an opportunity to push water up the agenda because we believe that most water supply and sanitation actions are climate resilient,” said the African Development Bank.

A recent report from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) outlined the severity of water scarcity. The key figure from the report was the notion that 80 cities are seeking $9.5bn in investment to cover 89 water projects that are ‘urgently needed’ to combat water stress.

Specifically, the report noted that if infrastructure issues aren’t addressed, an increase in population means that London could suffer from a daily water deficit of 520 million litres of water.

As well as investment into new infrastructure, a systems re-think could relieve some of the pressure. Multinational banking group ING claim that the adaptation of circular economy methods in water-stressed regions could save 412 billion cubic metres of water each year, the equivalent to 11% of annual global water demand.

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November 7, 2017
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