Has Water Fallen through the Cracks of the Climate Threat?  

Summary

While COP 21 has focused its debates on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it seems, at the very least, to have overlooked the question of water, despite the fact that this resource, too, is threatened by climate change. Resilience Day, held on December 2 in Le Bourget, provided an opportunity for the World Bank to reiterate the dangers looming over water and for companies to restate their commitment to preserving this vital resource.

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On December 2, in Le Bourget, COP 21’s host city, French Environment Minister Ségolène Royal acknowledged that water was “conspicuous for its absence in the negotiations.” This despite the fact that “28% of the world’s population does not have enough water, a figure that will increase to 43-50% by 2080,” as the Minister stressed.

As a result, Resilience Day, which included a morning devoted to the subject of “Water and Adaptation to Climate Change,” as part of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, was particularly eagerly-awaited.

28% of the world’s population does not have enough water, a figure that will increase to 43-50% by 2080

During that event, participants first evoked the threats that climate change poses to water and, indirectly, to society.

“If nothing is done to improve water management, shortages could lead to a 5% to 10% fall in GDP growth in certain countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East,” cautioned Junaid Kamal Ahmad, Head of the World Bank’s Water Global Practice. And remember, in its latest report, the IPCC warned that for each addition degree Celsius about 7% of the global population could be exposed to a reduction of at least 20% of renewable water resources.

Preserving a vital resource 

[…] without water, there would be no agriculture, and therefore no food security, no industry and, in the end, no economic development.

In response to the World Bank’s presentation, cities, states, NGOs and companies were called on to commit.  Against this backdrop, Danone joined the Business Alliance for Water and Climate Change by signing a statement of intent. In that text, the Alliance recognizes that, “based on the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report […] the impact of climate change on water resources is intensifying significantly with the rise in greenhouse gas emissions.” It goes on to reiterate that “the preservation of freshwater resources is not just an essential issue for sustainable human development: without water, there would be no agriculture, and therefore no food security, no industry and, in the end, no economic development.”

The Business Alliance has committed to achieving one or more of the following three levels of ambition: analyze and share water-related risks in order to implement collaborative response strategies; measure the water footprint using existing standards; and reduce the impact on water availability and quality caused by direct operations and all along the value chain.

* Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

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