The climate crisis is a water crisis. At the UN climate change conference in November 2022, WaterAid will call on governments to prioritise investment in water, sanitation and hygiene to help the most vulnerable cope with and survive the effects of climate change.

In November 2022, the government of Egypt will host the UN Climate Change Conference – also known as COP27 – in Sharm el-Sheikh. Hundreds of world leaders will come together to agree plans on how to tackle the climate crisis.

Why is COP27 important?

Leaders will review the commitments made last year in the Glasgow Climate Pact – which acknowledged that more action is needed to stop temperatures rising by less than 2C – and aim to build on them.

There will be 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 says Egypt will not spare any effort to ensure COP27 becomes 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 last year's UN climate talks – 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 need 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 are calling 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 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.