At the UN climate change conference in November 2022, WaterAid called on governments to prioritise investment in water, sanitation and hygiene to help the most vulnerable people cope with and survive the effects of climate change.

In November 2022, the government of Egypt hosted the 27th UN Climate Change Conference – also known as COP27 – in Sharm el-Sheikh. Hundreds of world leaders came together to agree plans for how to tackle the climate crisis.

They reviewed the commitments made in 2021 in the Glasgow Climate Pact – which acknowledged that more action is needed to stop temperatures rising by less than 2C – and aimed to build on them.

There were four main areas of focus:

  1. Mitigation – the steps to reduce global heating
  2. Adaptation – ways to help people deal with an already changing climate
  3. Finance – the money needed, especially for developing nations, to adapt
  4. Collaboration – ways to work together on tackling the crisis

Thirty years since the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and in light of findings that some elements of climate change are now irreversible, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said Egypt would not spare any effort to ensure COP27 became the moment the world moves from negotiation to implementation.

90% of all natural disasters are water-related.

By 2040, one in four children will live in an area of extremely high water stress.

95% of climate finance – all of private finance and most of public funding – has been centred on mitigation. 

At COP26, world leaders and delegates discussed how to minimise and respond to the climate crisis. The outcome was the Glasgow Climate Pact, which made a number of pledges around carbon emissions, coal, fossil fuel subsidies and funding for developing countries.

For COP27, two crucial aspects of responding to climate change needed to take centre stage:

  • Water. Water – and in particular water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) – is essential to helping people survive and adapt to the climate crisis. It needs to be a specific part of finance for adaptation measures.
  • Women. Often responsible for household chores, water collection and caring for family members, women and girls are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change. But they are also key to the solutions. From fixing taps and pumps, to working with community groups on water monitoring or management, women and girls are leading the response to the climate crisis. That's why it is time for women to have a seat at the table and play an equal role in making decisions to help their communities adapt to climate change. By including them we can start to close the gap on gender inequality. It is time for their voices to be heard and for their solutions to be supported.
Tiru Getahun, water pump manager, in Derekwa, Ethiopia.
Tiru Getahun, from Derekwa in Ethiopia, is her community's water pump manager. She collects money from users to pay for the maintenance of the pump.
WaterAid/Joey Lawrence

The world cannot wait.

Already, 1 in 10 people worldwide don’t have a reliable source of clean water. And the more our climate changes, the more challenging this becomes. More frequent and extreme flooding is polluting water sources, while longer and more severe droughts mean that wells and springs are running dry. This makes people more susceptible to disease and pushes them further into poverty.

The most vulnerable communities deserve financial support to build resilience and have a chance to live dignified, healthy lives.

That is why, before and during COP27, we called for:

  • Wealthy country governments to honour the commitments made at COP26 to at least double their financial support to developing countries.
  • World leaders to prioritise clean water for the world’s most climate-vulnerable groups – particularly women and girls.
  • World leaders to address the structural inequalities – particularly for the most vulnerable groups such as women and girls – that are exacerbated by climate change.

Follow us on social media for our take on COP27 and to find out what the negotiations mean for the world's most vulnerable communities.

WaterAid at COP27

At COP27, WaterAid had a small delegation of colleagues from across the organisation. For the second year, we were also a Core Partner of the Water Pavilion. Our delegates spoke at a number of events in the Water Pavilion, as well as in the Australia Pavilion, Bangladesh Pavilion, Locally Led Adaptation Pavilion, UK Pavilion – and more.

Events in the Water Pavilion were also available online. Explore the full programme of events here.

Follow us on social media for our take on COP27 and to find out what the negotiations mean for the world's most vulnerable communities.


Top image: Shefali Rani Sardar, a village committee worker and caretaker of her village's pond-sand filter, picks crops in her garden in Purbo Durgabati, Burigoalini, Bangladesh.