Knowledge hub

This section houses our key messages and a comprehensive repository of materials on water-related topics. These resources offer valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities associated with water management.

Key messages on Water & Climate

Overarching message

Water is a necessary part of the climate solution: without considering freshwater in mitigation and adaptation, the Paris Agreement will likely be out of reach.

By investing in adaptive water planning and management, countries can help build climate-resilient societies that benefit both people and the planet.  If water is not considered in decision-making, there are risks to climate action, with many net zero initiatives dependent on abundant and reliable water. 

Climate Policy ProcessAlignment With UNFCCC Workstreams

Climate Policy Process

COP28 marks the halfway point in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and will be the first assessment, also known as the Global Stocktake, of how countries have progressed against their commitments made at COP21 Paris in 2015.


Global Stocktake

Political messages at COP28 will likely call for countries to increase their emissions reductions by revising and enhancing  their current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

What are we asking policymakers and negotiators to consider in the political recommendations?


  • Re-evaluating and adjusting, within the scope of the Global Stocktake exercise, their own Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), National Adaptation Plans, Long-term Strategies, vulnerability assessments and monitoring and evaluation systems through a water-wise lens; This includes accounting for present and future freshwater availability and impacts in climate mitigation planning and action, in addition to necessary adaptation measures;
  • As part of the GST exercise, Parties have the opportunity to consider how prioritizing the most appropriate types of sanitation and wastewater treatment processes and management practices can support their medium and long term climate goal while also increasing resilience of sanitation systems. 
  • There are also untapped opportunities for water-based climate-mitigation, including: increasing carbon capture and reducing methane emissions from wetlands and peatlands; reducing methane emissions from rice production; reduced emissions from water supply and sanitation systems; and lowering emissions through improved water management and energy use in agriculture and energy production.
  • Highlight the importance of win-win, no regret nature-based solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation, such as safeguarding and restoring wetlands, peatlands, and freshwater ecosystems to sequester carbon, enhance water resilience and reduce flooding and droughts.

Global Goal on Adaptation

Article 7 of the Paris Agreement establishes the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) of “enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, with a view to contributing to sustainable development”. However, translating this high-level statement into action has proven to be difficult.   


To address Article 7, countries established the two-year Glasgow-Sharm el-Sheikh Work Programme on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) at COP26  to enhance and support adaptation action through a country-driven process.


This programme ends its mandate at COP28 where climate negotiators are expected to deliver a GGA Framework.


The draft structure of the framework comprises at the moment: a) adaptation dimensions across the adaptation policy cycle; b) adaptation across a set of themes (current negotiations include “water” and “freshwater ecosystems” themes; and, c) adaptation cross-cutting considerations. 

What are we asking policymakers and negotiators to consider?


As an essential resource for adaptation, water must be highlighted as a strong component of the GGA Framework. Water is one of Earth’s most precious resources, sustaining well-being, ecosystems, economies, biodiversity and society as a whole.


The global climate crisis makes the management of water availability and quality increasingly difficult, demanding adaptation strategies for this scarce and precious resource. Global adaptation to climate change will not be successful without careful consideration of water resources and the freshwater ecosystems they rely on.


Adopting water-related adaptation targets can raise the ambition needed to achieve the Global Goal on Adaptation. 

The expertise of the water community can be harnessed to support the articulation and development of the GGA framework beyond 2023. 


Water features in several global agreements, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk reduction, The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), the United Nations Conventions to Combat Desertification, and the Convention on Biological Diversity. However, water is not explicitly mentioned in the Paris Agreement, and the existing global frameworks that address water do not include climate-rooted adaptation targets. Currently, there are no global frameworks with targets that explicitly link water with climate outcomes.


Setting sectoral targets has driven ambition and provided guidance towards sustainable development and poverty eradication.  Defining water-related adaptation targets within the GGA Framework offers a unique opportunity to enhance climate adaptation ambition, transform existing governance and management systems, and to increase coherence of the existing global frameworks to bring about a sustainable and climate resilient future for all.


The expertise of the water community can be harnessed to support the articulation and development of the GGA framework beyond 2023. The water sector has been refining and evolving its approach to monitoring progress for decades.  The GGA does not have to start from zero or work in isolation when it comes to establishing targets and monitoring progress.  The water community can provide technical support to parties as needed:

  1. With the development of targets and indicators 
  2. With monitoring global progress towards agreed targets.


WASH key messages and briefing to COP28 delegations | Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (


Alignment With UNFCCC Workstreams


  • Improved water management has the potential to add quick wins to the range of tools for fighting climate change.
  • The contribution of water to climate mitigation is a relatively new area in science and practice but must be included as part of the international dialogues to ensure its potential is not missed.


What are we asking policymakers and negotiators to consider?

  • Water availability for climate mitigation purposes must be factored into Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), or risk reduced effectiveness of mitigation measures. 
  • In many submitted NAPs and NDCs, the recycling of wastewater is identified as an important and under-utilized solution. Achieving its full potential requires low and high technology, policy and regulatory frameworks, and investment models which protect people and the environment.
  • Water management is part of mitigation efforts through both land- and water-based carbon sequestration and the reduction of GHG emissions related to delivering water supply, sanitation, and hygiene services. 
  • Filling the knowledge gaps identified through IPCC assessments and having the role of water and freshwater ecosystems for mitigation better represented in climate discussions are important means of securing GHG emission reductions.

Adaptation & Resilience

  • Climate change is water change – climate change is already being experienced through the intensification  of the hydrological cycle, manifesting in stronger  droughts, floods and storms.
  • Clean, reliable and accessible water resources and healthy freshwater ecosystems are essential to building an equitable, climate-resilient future for all. 
  • Better water management is a key adaptation strategy. National climate strategies and planning processes that consider the use and impact on water systems can help countries in achieving their climate goals.
  • Climate risk assessment frameworks, disaster risk reduction approaches and early warning systems should include water risks.
  • Climate resilient water management can be a response to climate impacts – building resilience in human populations and both built and natural environments – but can also contribute to low-carbon futures that support human flourishing.


What are we asking policymakers and negotiators to consider?
  • Climate resilient water management is a powerful strategic intervention to cope with and avoid negative climate impacts: adaptation to climate change is primarily about better water management (UN Water, 2010).
  • The GGA negotiations offer an opportunity to make sure that water’s determining role in adaptation to climate change is captured and monitored, and included in financing streams.
  • Countries implement water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
  • There are many options for improved water management operating at different scales, which have a direct effect on the resilience and adaptive capacity of communities.  Many of these options have multiple benefits, both reducing risk and vulnerability and providing positive benefits in access to water, healthy ecosystems and growing economies.     
  • Equity is a core concern, and attention must be given to making sure that all communities living in the overlap of insufficient water, sanitation and hygiene access and high climate hazard exposure have been targeted with climate resilient water, sanitation and hygiene services  
  • New water, sanitation and hygiene services for those with insufficient access are planned, built, and operated on the basis of a climate risk analysis and are resilient to climate change  
  • Existing water, sanitation and hygiene services in areas highly exposed to climate hazards have been upgraded and retrofitted  All countries halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and support resilience in industry and food production by substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse.s

Means of Implementation (Finance, Technology, Capacity Building, Partnerships)

  • Given its universal nature, water can serve as a connector across sectors and between the global agendas, helping increase coherence between the SDGs, Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework, and Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. 
  • Social and technological innovation (which includes traditional and local knowledge) are a cornerstone in contributing towards  mitigation and adaptation actions. Knowledge exchange combined with capacity development in ensuring all parties have access to an array of innovations which can be adapted to the local context.
  • Good decision-making for adequate adaptation responses in-country depends on access and availability of good quality information. Standardized indicators to guide the collection of better actionable water data can provide reliable and transparent inputs to support evidence-based decision-making and investment. 
  • Collective water action is the key to a just, inclusive and climate-resilient future, where no one is left behind. Locally led, water-wise adaptation yields inclusivity, accountability and cooperation.


What are we asking policymakers and negotiators to consider?



  • Recent uptake of climate-resilient water management approaches in guidelines to access climate finance is an excellent start, now the key task is to upscale these approaches and mainstream  their implementation.
  • Ensure public finance (subsidies, fiscal funds) and incentives for private finance lead to nature-positive and net-zero economic activities
  • Ensure private and public finance on water work together to support water adaptation and mitigation;, such as through mandatory disclosure of carbon emissions and targets that is based on unified, comparable frameworks of high-level, comprehensive metrics.

Knowledge, Innovation and Technology

  • Innovation is broader than technology and includes innovations in governance, finance, culture and working with nature. Good governance, finance, culture and partnerships are necessary to develop, bring to market and scale innovations.
  • A diverse range of perspectives and knowledge must be considered (includes traditional and local knowledge) in planning and implementing water and climate management. Solutions, whether traditional or innovative, can contribute to both immediate and long-term benefits in climate and water management.
  • Locally-led innovation is critical to tackling climate challenges in water, building inclusive systems by empowering local communities and marginalized groups. 
  • Citizen and open sciences can contribute towards  solutions in the context of climate variability and change.

Circular Economy

  • Circular Economy principles can help mitigate climate change by focusing on resource efficiency and promoting the use of renewable energy and adapt to climate change impacts by proactively restoring ecosystems.
  • Implementing circular economy principles is key for adapting to climate change-induced water scarcity and other extreme events and ensuring a sustainable water supply.
  • Political and private sector leadership is needed to scale up climate resilience building for water management and to promote economic circularity.

Capacity development and means of implementation

  • Achieving effective resilience to floods and droughts requires an integrated approach that combines scientific knowledge, effective policies, local and international best practices, and community engagement. 
  • Cost effective and sustainable investments to enhance adaptive capacity and reduce vulnerability to extreme events require detailed planning, early warning systems, nature-based solutions, and infrastructure.  
  • The establishment of the appropriate policy, institutional and regulatory enabling environment is essential for addressing long-term solutions for flood and drought risk management.
  • Enhance and make publicly available data, and best practices to address systemic risks tied to climate change and environmental degradation. 
  • Create and empower inter-agency or interministerial working groups on water to ensure sustainable management and reduce the risk of water insecurity. In international river basins, enact transboundary water sharing agreements or basin management committees to support transboundary adaptation
  • Empower bottom-up, climate resilient water management approaches are key to ensure locally-led, community-centered adaptation to climate change impacts on water resources management. 

All themes

Water & Climate Connectors

Recognizing the need to bridge more effectively towards those outside of the international water community, the Water for Climate Pavilion is encouraging its Core Partners to take on responsibilities to learn the issues and language in different climate spaces and build relationships with the stakeholders engaged there.