Water, Sanitation and Hygiene takeaways from COP27

4 min read
Moderating a session on women as change-makers for water-sensitive climate action
WaterAid

Tanvi Oza, WaterAid Australia’s Regional Climate Change Advisor, recently joined 35,000 other delegates in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt for the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) to discuss the global response to the climate crisis. Here’s what she had to say after her experience.

It was so wonderful being at COP27 engaging in important conversations, spending time with partners and making new connections.

While there is still much more progress to be made, especially on the emissions reduction side, the agreement to establish a loss and damage fund for vulnerable countries was a great win for this COP.

It was also great to see water being called out for the first time in the negotiated text, though much more needs to be done to strengthen this framing in terms of adaptation to climate change. This includes the consideration of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for vulnerable communities integrated with issues including food security, gender equity, disaster management and broader water resource management.

Climate Financing

Climate financing is a critical issue that will continue to be a hot topic over the next year and into COP28. There is an urgent need for more climate financing where the private sector has an important role to play in addressing water security and gender equality issues. It was great to speak at the Water Pavilion on the importance of partnerships and why the private sector should invest in gender inclusive and climate resilient WASH. Find out more about WaterAid’s recent work around this here and here.

While it has been encouraging to see Australia’s new overseas development assistance commitments across Southeast Asia and the Pacific, more money must continue to flow from developed countries, with changes also needed in multilateral development banks to reform and scale up public grants for mitigation and adaptation for vulnerable regions. It was great to launch our recent research as part of the Water for Women fund at the Water Pavilion on climate financing for WASH. Our findings outline the barriers civil society organisations face when it comes to accessing climate finance for WASH projects, and why funding is not reaching the most marginalised communities. Access these documents here and here.

Speaking at the water pavilion on financing climate resilient and gender inclusive WASH, convened by UNICEF
Speaking at the water pavilion on financing climate resilient and gender inclusive WASH, convened by UNICEF
WaterAid

Indigenous Voices

At the Australian Pavilion, it was wonderful to see the strong focus on indigenous voices and knowledge which is critical to adaptation and caring for the environment. Putting the community at the center of everything we do is essential, where we must first co-define the challenge with the community and bring them along in the journey rather than trying to have all the answers upfront. Indigenous knowledge must be seen as an equally important source of data to address climate adaptation. We can’t be working in parallel. There has to be cross sharing of knowledge through strong partnerships.

Key Connections

On Water Sanitation and Hygiene day, it was an honour to have the National Director of Environment from the Timor Government, Mr Joao Carlos Soares speak at our governance themed session at the Water Pavilion. Mr Soares spoke about Timor Leste’s approach to embedding WASH into their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and how Timor Leste is setting an important example for other countries to follow in the lead up to COP28 around NDCs and NAPs. We thank Mr Soares for his time and look forward to strengthening our work in WASH with the Timor-Leste Government over the coming year.

Meeting with Mr Joao Carlos Soares – General director for the Environment, Government of Timor-Leste along with Angelo Ximenes (WaterAid Timor Leste) and Alison Baker (Water for Women)
Meeting with Mr Joao Carlos Soares – General director for the Environment, Government of Timor-Leste along with Angelo Ximenes (WaterAid Timor Leste) and Alison Baker (Water for Women)
WaterAid

Women and Girls

Engaging with Minister Chris Bowen, Senator Jenny McAllister and Australia’s Climate Change Ambassador Kristin Tilley at the Australian Delegation Ministerial Reception was another highlight, speaking about the importance of WASH as a critical entry point for climate adaptation and how it can be scaled up to address gender equity in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Women are not the passive victims of climate change, but hold the key to finding holistic solutions. We cannot invest in climate resilient water resource management without thinking about the needs of women and girls first. To find solutions, it’s not just about giving women and girls a voice, but rather valuing their unique knowledge as custodians of water and caregivers of the community. As such, if climate actors are addressing WASH, they’re likely to be creating an access point to address gender issues as well.

Speaking at the Australian Pavilion in a session hosted by Water for Women alongside partners at AWP on the importance of partnerships for climate resilient and gender inclusive WASH, as well as sharing some stories from our experiences in Papua New Guinea.
Speaking at the Australian Pavilion in a session hosted by Water for Women alongside partners at AWP on the importance of partnerships for climate resilient and gender inclusive WASH, as well as sharing some stories from our experiences in Papua New
WaterAid

I walk away from COP27 feeling optimistic about the new momentum around water for adaptation and climate financing. This is the second year in a row that we had a dedicated Water Pavilion at COP, but there is still much more that needs to be done to integrate WASH and gender into key climate adaptation conversations. I look forward to seeing how Australia’s new Development Policy recognises and drives this critical agenda forward.

Soaking it all in at the Australian Pavilion!
Soaking it all in at the Australian Pavilion!
WaterAid