Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report summary - Chapter 11: Water Governance for Resilience to climate Change

The eleventh chapter of the UN 2020 Water and Climate Change report states that good governance is key to improving water resources management to adapt and mitigate climate change. Good governance consists of political will, leadership, and action, the understanding that water and climate cut across the entire economy, the importance of inclusive participation and transparency, the role of poverty and inequality in exacerbating vulnerability to climate-related water crises. 

Water governance determines “who gets water, when, and how much.”  The report stresses that governments are not the sole providers of water to people, especially in low-income settings. Instead, the report puts forth a ‘whole-of-society’ approach which recognizes the increasing role of non-state actors in providing water. With increased competition over water resources, however, the need for strong governance, oversight, and coordination in water management is heightened. It is especially important for cross-sectoral stakeholders to be engaged in water resources management, and for water policy to link to national and international climate change policy. 

To improve water management, the report recommends three things: 1) greater public participation to discuss and manage climate risks; 2) building adaptive capacities at multiple levels; and 3) prioritizing risk reduction for socially vulnerable groups. 

Public participation is increasingly important given the increasing variability in the effects of climate change. Making sure that all are involved in the agenda-setting, decision-making, and monitoring of climate change is vital to ensure people are safe from the effects of climate change. The need for public participation is highlighted in Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and sets out three fundamental rights: "access to information, access to public participation and access to justice, as key pillars of sound environmental governance."

Other agents of change include young people, who are increasingly concerned about climate change as demonstrated by the 2019 Global Youth Strike, where 1.4 million students and young adults across 120 countries left school and workplaces to demand climate action. Youth have also been able use local initiatives to raise awareness and advocate for policy recommendations. 

In order to build adaptive capacities at multiple levels, the report recommends ‘adaptive management,’ which is a decision-making process that functions even in uncertainty. Adaptive management understands there is variability in the projected effects of climate change, so they work largely with ‘no-regret’ adaptation measures that have benefits regardless of the impacts of climate change. For example, repairing leaks in urban systems is good for human safety and water sanitation, regardless of the presence of climate change. Under adaptive management, risk assessments should take a bottom-up approach and account for the risks and needs of multiple stakeholders. 

Finally, the report breaks down the importance of reducing vulnerability by combating poverty and inequality. Women and girls from minority ethnic groups, the poor, Indigenous people, and those in remote areas are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The report advocates for a human rights-based approach to development, which includes good governance and poverty alleviation. 

Written by: Gari De Ramos, former DSH intern

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