WaterAid applauds Biden’s emphasis on climate adaptation in development at COP26

1 November 2021
Climate change
Karimatu (17) walks back home after collecting water from the pond in Kinga community, Kwaja village, Adamawa. Nigeria. February 2021
Image: WaterAid/ Etinosa Yvonne

November 1, 2021—With billions worldwide facing water scarcity, WaterAid America welcomes President Biden’s announcement of the new Presidential Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) Initiative, which aims to help 500 million people worldwide adapt to a changing climate.

For too long, the global agenda on climate change has focused narrowly on mitigation—and while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is urgently important, so is addressing the impacts of the climate crisis that are already being felt, often by some of the most vulnerable communities.

Today, 2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries [1]. We know that investing in systems that provide a reliable water supply and safe sanitation, whatever the weather brings, is a frontline defense against the impact of climate change.

The Biden Administration’s ambitious framework outlined in PREPARE includes a commitment of $3 billion per year in new financing and makes adaptation a key priority in international development.

“Climate change is here, and it’s making it harder for people around the world to access clean water and safe sanitation, improve their livelihoods, and meet the needs of their families,” says Kelly Parsons, CEO of WaterAid America. “We’re excited to see the Biden Administration emphasize adaptation and resilient systems that can withstand climate shocks and keep communities healthy, safe and productive. We look forward to working with the US government to help the world’s most vulnerable people cope with the impacts of a changing climate.”

WaterAid applauds four distinct areas included in the Biden Administration’s PREPARE Initiative:

  1. Locally-led adaptation: As an early endorser of the principles for locally-led adaptation, WaterAid knows that the most effective solutions come from the people most impacted by climate change. Ensuring that US climate adaptation programming, especially through USAID, prioritizes and makes space for local expertise to shape decision-making will be fundamental to ensuring that PREPARE makes a positive impact, and quickly.
  2. Climate risk and early-warning systems: As the PREPARE Initiative acknowledges, water scarcity is a primary driver of conflict, and water security helps advance national security both within and across borders. Access to good quality, timely data, especially in advance of an emergency, will enhance the resilience, sustainability, and self-reliance of communities facing severe drought, flooding and other impacts of climate change.
  3. Collective action through multilateralism: The Initiative commits to multilateral funding in support of climate adaptation, including the first-ever US contribution to the Adaptation Fund, alongside other bilateral and multilateral investments. Multilateral agreements to limit and address climate change and to advance sustainable development, such as the Paris Accord and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are important signals of political will, and WaterAid is encouraged by the resurgence of US partnership in the multilateral arena.
  4. Leverage private capital: WaterAid research shows that only 5% of current climate finance is spent on adaptation, of which an even smaller percentage goes to projects that support resilience through water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Increasing entry points for private sector partnership and helping to create economically viable and demand-driven adaptation responses will allow for more resources to address the critical adaptation challenges of today and tomorrow.

WaterAid supports the PREPARE Initiative's emphasis on maximizing financial and technical support for adaptation, with inclusive and locally-responsive solutions at the center. These investments can change lives, especially alongside complementary initiatives such as the Resilient Water Accelerator, facilitated by WaterAid and a task force of HRH The Prince of Wales’ Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI). The Resilient Water Accelerator is working to develop and build scalable programs that could reach 50 million people in water-stressed areas over the next decade.

As the US Government continues to engage at COP26, WaterAid looks forward to partnering with USAID, other agencies, and Congress to advance global climate adaptation. US leadership in climate adaptation is critical for international development and addressing disparities in WASH access. WaterAid is committed to supporting and helping to inform US leadership in global programming and financing, including on WASH.


[1] UN Water, 2021

For more information, please contact: Emily Haile at [email protected] or call the international 24-hour press line +44 (0)7887 521 552 [email protected]  

About WaterAid 
WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene a reality for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international nonprofit organization works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water and 28 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org/us.