Race To Zero: a zero-carbon and resilient future through water

Event Oct 20, 2020

How can water help us reach a zero-carbon, resilient future? On 12 November, you can hear leading water and climate experts, including Ma Jun and Johan Rockström, share their insights during the Race to Zero water dialogues, at a special Water Day led by SIWI and our partners.


Race to Zero is a global campaign initiated by the COP25 Chile and COP26 UK High-Level Champions, to make more organizations commit to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

From 9 to 19 November it is reaching an apex moment through the “November Dialogues” which will rally organizations to take actions. SIWI is the lead partner organization for the Water Day on 12 November, hosting a full-day event that will showcase the water community’s vision of a zero-carbon, resilient future and the water-related tools and solutions needed to win the Race to Zero.

Follow the Water Dialogues live here

We are honoured to feature some of the world’s most influential speakers, such as Professor Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. As an expert in Earth System Science, he and colleagues developed the concept of Planetary Boundaries that the world cannot afford to transgress. His “carbon law” later described a model for a fast transition to a fossil-free economy. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear him explain why water is crucial in this endeavour.

Ma Jun is often accredited with founding China’s environmental movement with his groundbreaking 1999 book China’s Water Crisis. Today he heads the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs of China which has pioneered a new way of working with data disclosure to help companies reduce their environmental impact.

Many people have also been inspired by Pope Francis’s messages in “Laudato Si”. We welcome Cardinal Peter Turkson, Pope Francis’s chief advisor on climate change, to talk more about integral ecology and integral human development through water.

More speakers will be confirmed, so stay tuned for further updates!

The Water Day is organized by SIWI, along with IUCN, AGWA, UN Global Compact, CEO Water Mandate, and CDP. By bringing together some of the world’s most influential speakers on water and climate, we want to show how a water perspective can help us tackle the climate crisis more effectively.

What we need now is action. The Covid-19 pandemic has painfully reminded us of our vulnerability, the interconnectedness of human life to our natural environment, and how indispensable water is to healthy and resilient communities, in both the developed and developing contexts. Without adequate, good quality, and equitable water, we cannot emerge from this pandemic with resilience nor win the Race to Zero. If we want to win on both fronts, it is more important than ever to look at both the problems and the solutions in a transformative way – through a water lens.

Smart and sustainable management of water and freshwater ecosystems points to a range of significant solutions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions that remain largely untapped. For example, through more efficient and climate-resilient use, storage, distribution, treatment, and reuse of water, we can eliminate 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. When it comes to the role of nature and nature-based solutions, wetlands and peatlands are a powerhouse for carbon sequestration, capable of storing twice as much carbon as all of the world’s forests combined.  

At the same time, water is key to adaptation and resilience, as climate change manifests itself primarily through changes in the water cycle. Over the last 25 years, floods, droughts and other weather-related events have caused more than 90 per cent of major weather-related disasters, and the frequency and intensity of such events are expected to increase. Fully unleashing the potential of water-based ecosystems and green infrastructure to strengthen our capacity to respond to water-related disasters and climate-proofing water and sanitation systems will ensure that people and the planet continue to thrive in the changing environment.

The above are just some of the transformative solutions that will take centre stage on 12 November at the Race to Zero November Dialogues – join us for this important event!

Full Programme | Livestream 

Race to Zero 2020 from SIWI on Vimeo.