In the face of growing water stress and water-related hazards, the Extraordinary World Meteorological Congress being held (October 11- 22) endorsed a Water Declaration, including the Water and Climate Coalition, to accelerate implementation of SDG 6.
The declaration adopted in the two day Hydrological Assembly on October 12 and 14 as part of the Congress also approved a new vision and strategy for hydrology and an associated plan of action.
Taking into account the urgency of the situation, the Declaration sets the following aspirations:
- That by 2030 early warnings for early action related to floods and droughts will be available for people everywhere on the planet to access;
- That policies for water and climate action developed within the sustainable development agenda be integrated to yield maximum benefit for our people;
- That we will pursue these goals through partnerships for capacity development, knowledge exchange and information sharing, formulating policies, institutional and legal/regulatory frameworks.
Water and Climate Coalition
The Congress endorsed the Water and Climate Coalition in a bid to promote the sharing and access to integrated hydrological, cryosphere, meteorological and climate information for planning and operating resilient and sustainable water resources systems at local, national, regional and river basin scales.
The Congress stressed the importance of unrestricted sharing of Earth system data and information to create benefits that will allow to optimise water resources management, national adaptation planning, including planning of quality infrastructure, as well as effective disaster risk reduction, including early warning systems.
The Water and Climate Coalition to be officially presented at the United Nations Climate Change negotiations, COP26, aims to accelerate progress to the goals of the water-related Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG6 and boost resilient water adaptation to climate change as well as demographic and socioeconomic development for the future.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says that the major obstacle to provide efficient and sustainable water solutions is the lack of information about the currently available resources, future availability and demand for food and energy supply. This is the same when it comes to flood and drought risks.
The WMO says that 60 per cent of its members report declining capabilities in hydrological monitoring and thus in the provision of decision support in the water, food and energy nexus. It points out that more than 50 per cent of countries have no quality management system for their water related data in place.
Hydrology Action Plan
In order to meet the challenges, the Extraordinary Congress agreed for a detailed action plan and identified eight long-term ambitions.
No one is surprised by a flood
The WMO point out that economic damage caused by floods has tended to increase despite flood early warning systems. Better understanding of flood risk, flood forecasting and warning have strengthened preparedness and response capacities. However, lack of trained people and good hydrological monitoring network remains a challenge, the WMO added.
The WMO called for impact-based end-to-end Early Warning Systems (EWS) for flood forecasting. Public, communities and businesses should have enhanced access to and better capacity to react to official national flood forecasts and warnings locally and globally.
Everyone is prepared for drought
Several countries do not have adequate national drought policies. Members should reduce adverse impacts of drought at all levels by implementing integrated drought management systems, including drought monitoring, early warnings, vulnerability and impact assessments, and drought mitigation, preparedness and response measures.
Hydro-climate and meteorological data for food security
Food security should be enhanced by informed end users’ decisions at all levels from regional to local. The concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) including use and allocations for supporting food production should be widely accepted and followed.
Success will be measured by the decreased number and magnitude of famine/hunger emergencies due to drought and water scarcity, and the number of Members monitoring and accounting for water consumption in their water budgets at the basin scale.
High-quality data supports science
The WMO mentioned that globally accepted and free accessible data infrastructure was lacking. The value of data accessibility, usability and reliability has been proved a strong driver for science development. There should be increased discoverability, availability, and use of high-quality hydrological and hydrometeorological data for scientific analysis, as promoted by the Global Hydrometry Support Facility (HydroHub).
Success will be measured by the number of river discharge/groundwater/lakes and reservoirs/cryosphere time series with data available and the number of Members performing routine hydrological data quality assessments.
Science provides a sound basis for operational hydrology
The development of operational services needs to be based on the state of knowledge of the water resources and the current and foreseeable pressures on them. Earth system science in an integrated perspective broadens the hydrological perspective and the advancement of hydrological science. There should be a reduced gap between research and operational hydrology applications; operational hydrology uses improved understanding of Earth system science.
There should be a reduced gap between research and operational hydrology applications; operational hydrology uses improved understanding of Earth system science
There should be greater understanding of how the hydrological system responds to extreme conditions
Thorough knowledge of the water resources of our world
Despite the advances in technology and policy, the world is far from having comprehensive information on the state of water management across the world, or regarding major characteristics, trends, constraints and prospective changes.
Regional analyses need to be supported by systematic, up-to-date and reliable information on water and serve as a reference for large-scale planning and predictive studies. The WMO called on member states to implement reliable water resource assessment systems and use these to complete and share information on the availability of water resources.
There should be annual reports on the status of global water resources published from 2025 onwards.
Sustainable development is supported by hydrological information
Water lies at the heart of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. Therefore, hydrological information is important for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the monitoring and assessment of their progress.
Hydrological information of adequate resolution, quality and timeliness should be available and used to make informed decisions on sustainable development at all scales.
Success will be measured by the number of Members including hydrological aspects and water budget information in their development plans at the national level and reporting on SDG progress using reliable hydrological data and indicators.
The monitoring of surface and groundwater quality is a necessary condition for the basic requirements of society and ecosystems, and the possibility to adopt timely corrective solution whenever needed.
There should be increased cooperation at the national, regional and global level on water quality monitoring and water quality data exchange.
Success will be measured by the number of Members running water quality monitoring programmes, performing water quality assessments and sharing their data.