Water given priority in climate talks at COP21

Blog Dec 05, 2015

SIWI had in addition to Minister Bolund invited representatives from some of Sweden’s largest companies to the event. Ericsson, Scania and ICA all gave their views how water links to their sustainable business practices, and on how the private sector can help bridge the gap between 2015 and 2020 in terms of emission reductions and climate adaptation measures.

Andreas Follér for example shared that Scania will invest in smarter transports, alternative fuel with the objective to half their CO2 emissions in 5 years, as “there is no more room in our cities for more vehicles”.

Is there life on Mars? Well, according to NASA, there is at least water. Per Bolund, Minister for Financial Markets and Consumer Affairs and Deputy Minister for Finance Sweden quoted David Bowie in his key note address at the SIWI event Private sector Actions on Water solutions for Climate Resilience, on Friday 4 December.

“We see a tremendous change in Paris compared to in Copenhagen 2009” the Minister said, and stated that “the water crisis and climate changes are tightly interlinked – without blue there is no green. Further, true green economic approaches must go beyond sectors”.

The message that has been repeated a number of times over the last days here in Paris is that water is indeed not a sector but a connector, being at the confluence of climate adaptation and mitigation, water offers solutions for reinforcing strategies between the two. Water’s ability to connect policy areas, economic sectors, ecosystems, and societies makes it a key channel through which opportunities for cooperation, and trust, can grow.

Companies need to make sure sustainability permeates decision making on all levels in the company as well as in the supply chain. As Kerstin Lindvall from ICA raised, by 2030 we will need 50 per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more water. ICA therefore works with water foot printing as it provides one tool to identify how to practically work with handling water in the supply chain in a responsible way.

Matilda Gennvi Gustafsson elaborated on Ericsson’s business approach to the UN SDGs; with devoting one person in their management team to each of the goal.

Joppe Cramwinckel, Director Water at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development addressed the policy gap between mitigation and water resources, reminding that clean energy can be “thirsty” (World Bank) and that many renewable energy sources demand secure water resources.

Earlier this week, on the official Lima Paris Action day on Resilience and Water, stakeholders from all over the world came together to convey the message that #ClimateIsWater, calling for action and political courage and willingness to make the decisions here at the COP21 to secure climate resilience and safeguard our water scarce resources. In various events throughout the Water day, water’s interlinkages with climate change and its impacts were presented, among other in the AGWA event “Climate is Water: Solutions for the future” that gathered many hundreds in the audience.

There, the newest AGWA short film was showed and water solutions to our tough climate challenges were introduced and discussed. Later the same day, SIWI hosted a press conference; Climate is Water: From Paris to Marrakech, with Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy in France, Charafat Afailal, Minister Delegate in Charge of Water of the Minister of Energy, Mining, Water and Environment in Morocco (host country for COP22) and Anna Lindstedt, Climate Ambassador of Sweden among the speakers. The panel unanimously concluded that water’s importance to both climate adaptation and mitigation cannot be underestimated, and that water resilience needs to be given attention in the future climate framework.

We must ensure that we are making informed decisions for future generations. Integrating water resources management  into sustainable forestry, sustainable energy investments and other long term climate change responses will enhance climate resilience beyond Paris and Marrakesh.