Water-related risks in focus at UN Water Conference

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
SRSG Mami Mizutori addressing the UN Water Conference, March 2023

At the UN Water Conference, UNDRR calls for transformative water action to address water related risks.

Whether it is from too much or too little water, nine out of ten disasters are water related. The climate crisis is already intensifying droughts and floods, undermining sustainable development efforts.

“To address these risks before they become disasters, countries must break down silos between disaster, water, climate and environmental policies for a comprehensive approach to managing risks” said Ms. Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR, during the interactive dialogue on “Water for Climate, Resilience and Environment: Source to Sea, Biodiversity, Climate, Resilience and DRR”.

Early Warnings For All

Responding to the call of the UN Secretary-General to ensure that every person on earth is covered by early warning systems by 2027, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) are spearheading the Early Warnings for All initiative, along with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The initiative will require targeted investments of US$ 3.1 billion between 2023 and 2027 – a small fraction of the required US$ 50 billion in adaptation financing.

UNDRR’s commitments

To help countries understand their risks, and to support their efforts to build resilience, UNDRR has made commitments as part of the Water Action Decade. In collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and WMO, UNDRR will develop a new tracking system for disaster losses and damages. This system will strengthen the availability and access to data on water-related disasters to inform decision-making and prevent future disasters.

Recognizing that damages and disruptions to infrastructure systems are a major contributor to disaster economic losses, UNDRR will leverage the Principles for Resilient Infrastructure to ensure that resilience is embedded into infrastructure decisions and investments. A side event hosted by UNDRR and partners, ‘Infrastructure Resilience – A Prerequisite for Ensuring Availability and Sustainable Water Management’, focused on this concern.

The UNDRR delegation also participated in two other side events: ‘Placing Water at the Heart of Climate Action through Locally-led Adaptation’ and ‘Responding to the UN Secretary-General’s Call to Action: Realizing Early Warning Systems for All in a World with Increasing Water Related Hazards’.

A timely opportunity

The midterm reviews of the Water Action Decade and the Sendai Framework coincide in 2023. This is a timely opportunity to identify adjustments that promote risk-informed regenerative development while sustainably managing water resources and associated ecosystems.

The outcome of the Water Conference will inform the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on 18‒19 May 2023 that will conclude the Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework. It will also ensure that water-related risks feature prominently in the calls-to-action arising from the Political Declaration of the Midterm Review. 

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