March 23, 2020
The Link Between Clean Water, Climate Change and COVID-19
contributor: Pallavi Bharadwaj
World Water Day and the theme this year is water and climate change. Dr. John Matthews, E.D.-AGWA, is a veteran of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP. He noted recently in a webinar that when he attended COP-15 in Copenhagen in 2009, he was only one of a handful of experts talking about water and climate change. Later this year in Glasgow at COP-26, water shall be front and center for most of the climate-change related talks and discussions.
Water is the connecting link to most everything when it comes to climate change. If we have water in access, we experience floods, not enough causes droughts. There is also the issue of quantity and quality of water and how it contributes to climate change either directly or indirectly. According to Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, humans need water to survive, as do all the systems we rely on: sanitation, healthcare, education, business and industry. Action plans to tackle climate change need to be integrated across different sectors and coordinated across borders. And they must have one thing in common: safe and sustainable water management.
Financial institutions also need to do their bit by considering the holistic systems based approaches while considering to finance a new project or venture. There have been some breakthroughs in the form of Climate Bonds in China and the new Green Deal in the US but the banks and investments institutions need to do more, according to Mr. Ovink.
Solutions to combat climate change and provide safe WASH
The E4C Solutions Library is a living database of products and services that are intended to be accessible and appropriate for those living in poverty. In addition to the Solutions Library, E4C has recently partnered with Siemens USA to offer the Innovate for Impact Design Challenge. Under the challenge you can identify a problem, or opportunity, within SDG2 (zero hunger) and SDG6 (clean water and sanitation).
All the products and services in E4C’s SL, the design challenge with Siemens and all other offerings in the form of webinars and resources aim towards addressing climate change, water and ultimately achieving the UN-SDGs for all by 2030.
WWD and COVID-19
It shall be a disservice to not mention the novel Corona Virus. Countries across the world are trying to do their best to cope with this invisible enemy right now. The first line of defense is surprisingly very simple, washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Unfortunately, in a number of countries handwashing with soap and clean water is a luxury that households and families simply cannot afford. In such cases also E4C’s SL has solutions for setting up convenient community handwashing stations and managing their limited water resources better.
We must be as prepared for climate change as we are for COVID-19
Fighting climate change will open up vast opportunities for the economy in many areas. We need to embrace circular production systems and use water much more efficiently. Dr. Matthews also used the analogy of COVID-19 for addressing climate change. “We must be as prepared and careful for climate change as we are now doing for COVID-19,” he said. “With the climate events becoming extreme and water becoming scarce or unfit for human consumption, we need to prepare like we are doing for this pandemic.”