Faced with the cascading crises of a global pandemic, accelerated climate change and ecosystem collapse, a coalition of governments, businesses, and water, development and climate organisations are working together through the Resilient Water Accelerator to drastically increase finance for climate-resilient water sources.
The impacts of climate change
Climate change is happening now, and it is the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities – those who have done the least to cause it – who feel its effects first and most severely. Water is critical for nature and freshwater ecosystems, for domestic use and human wellbeing, for climate risk management, and for economic prosperity. Without reliable access to basic services including clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene, the challenges these communities face are compounded by the effects of our changing climate.
Unreliable access to water increases the vulnerability of communities to climate-related challenges, such as changing weather patterns, less predictable rainfall, salt water intrusion and increased exposure to disease. Sewage systems flood more frequently, contaminating nearby water sources and the local environment. Severe droughts force people to resort to increasingly unsafe sources of drinking water, which make health issues more common. In Bangladesh, for example, rising sea levels are increasing groundwater salinity contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease among coastal communities. For many, basic water and sanitation services can be the difference between coping and not coping with the devastating effects of climate change.
Ensuring water security—sustainable, resilient water resources and services – is the best way to address climate vulnerability and inequalities, and reduce the effects of climate change to allow communities, nature and economies to thrive.
Well-managed water systems can protect climate-impacted communities by ensuring that:
- there is reliable access to clean water for their daily needs
- water is available for business and agriculture
- the water necessary to conserve ecosystems and biodiversity is protected
By managing threats, working with communities and prioritising basic services for everyone, water programmes can protect water for all and deliver socially, environmentally and economically beneficial outcomes.
Not enough climate finance
The funding available for adaptation action is poorly targeted
The most climate-vulnerable countries are among the world’s poorest. These countries need increased investment in water adaptation strategies, but do not currently receive the necessary financial support from international funding bodies and bilateral donors. Of total global climate finance flows, only 5% is spent on helping communities and business to adapt, and water programmes received less than 3% of all tracked global climate finance.
A tiny fraction of the climate funds available is allocated to supporting communities by ensuring their access to water. Only around 1% of public international climate investment goes to protecting basic water services for poor communities.This equates to as little as US$1 per person, per year in some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, despite the effects of climate change being felt predominantly through water.
However, increasing funding alone will not solve the problem. We also need to see the enabling conditions that will ensure money gets where it is needed most. Barriers to building effective climate-resilient water programmes include:
- a lack of localised data required to generate high-quality proposals
- the absence of a comprehensive cross-sector approach to addressing systemic water issues, and
- a complex funding landscape for climate projects
To ensure funding reaches those who need it most and builds community resilience, these barriers must be removed.
Resilient Water Accelerator
Facilitated by WaterAid and a task force of HRH The Prince of Wales’ Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI), the Resilient Water Accelerator brings together governments, the private sector, development banks, aid agencies, civil society organisations and experts from the environment, development, water and climate sectors to build a pipeline of funded programmes that could reach 50 million vulnerable people in water-stressed areas in a decade.
The Accelerator is expected to deliver:
An optimal design approach for climate-resilient water programmes that accommodates water, sanitation and hygiene, nature-based solutions and climate change issues in a way that ensures long-term climate resilience and facilitates access to climate funding.
At least US$20 million of funding to support the development of such comprehensive programmes in five to six locations in climate-vulnerable countries.
As the climate crisis intensifies, it is clear the global community must step-up its efforts to tackle climate impacts immediately.
The Accelerator will support country efforts to secure vital climate finance for water. It aims to build practical solutions to the water and climate crises, support countries’ bids to secure climate finance, and ensure that more climate finance is fast-tracked towards protecting communities’ vital water services from a changing climate.
Optimal Design Approach
This approach is a roadmap of key actions to help countries prepare proposals for climate-resilient water security programmes that are ready to be funded
Revolutionising climate finance
In March 2020, at WaterAid’s Water and Climate Summit, a high-level group led by HRH The Prince of Wales, pledged to work towards forming a water and climate finance initiative, which would boost climate finance to invest in vital water services in developing countries to tackle the twin crises. Subsequently, a group of technical experts met to identify key actions to deliver on this objective in time for COP26 in Glasgow.
As part of this work, we commissioned a Landscape Analysis of Climate Finance for Water from the Overseas Development Institute. Published in November 2020, the report indicates the desperately low levels of climate finance available for adaptation interventions, especially for basic water, sanitation and hygiene.
The proposal that arose – the Resilient Water Accelerator – was broadly welcomed by senior policymakers, agencies and experts across the development, water resources, WASH and climate sectors at a high-level virtual meeting on 17 November 2020.
Learn more about why and how we work on climate change
Resilient Water Accelerator
See an overview of the Initiative in our briefing
To find out more about the Resilient Water Accelerator, please get in touch.