3.3 Respond to climate and global changes in an urbanizing world

Key organisations :
UN Habitat, International Water Association, Water and Climate Coalition, World Bank, Conservation International

During recent decades the world has seen an enormous spurt in the number of people living in cities and the emergence of large metropolitan areas, smaller cities and regional centres. In 1950 the world could count 9 cities with in excess of 5 million inhabitants, two in the Americas, 4 in Europe and 2 in Asia. By 2015, in just over 3 years from now, this number is expected to have grown to over 50, with 29 – more than half – in Asia, 13 in the Americas, 5 in Europe and 4 in Africa. Of those 50 more than half are within a short distance of coastlines that can be affected by a rise in sea level and storms. The expansion in urban populations generates an equally vast increase in the demand for water services, food, energy and space. Water can also be a foe through storms, droughts and floods. The increasing populations and developing economies require adequate protection against the hazards of floods, droughts and sea level rise. Hazards that are expected to become increasingly capricious and severe because of the higher stakes and changing climate.
The expansion in urban populations generates an equally vast increase in the demand for water services, food, energy and space. Water is not only a ‘friend’ serving people, economies and nature. Water can also be a foe through storms, droughts and floods. The increasing populations and developing economies require adequate protection against the hazards of floods, droughts and a rise in sea level. Hazards that are expected to become increasingly capricious and severe because of the higher stakes and changing climate.
Coping with these multiple and compounding water-related challenges is no longer possible through the use of single sector water management approaches and simple structural technical measures. Water management is evolving from a b?ta based technical professional skill into a multipronged complex portfolio of approaches and skills of players from a wide variety of disciplines and cultures and organizations including government, research, civil society and the private sector and acting at local through regional and national to global level.
The awareness that water management requires holistic and multidisciplinary responses to the increasingly complex challenges has given rise to a variety of initiatives to pool the forces of partners across disciplines, mandates and scales. For priority area 3.3. this awareness of the need for pooling forces has resulted in the proposal by a group of institutions of 7 Targets. All of these 7 Targets have the ambition to contribute to solutions through the creation and strengthening of partnerships for a particular purpose or addressing a particular issue. Target 1 is to address the political agenda under UNFCCC on water-related adaptation. This Target is led by the Water and Climate Coalition. Target 2, 3, 4 and 5 all deal with capacity development and operational guidance on scenario development and modeling tools for basins and water management at global, regional down to local level. These targets are led by the French Académie de l’Eau, UNESCO-IHP, the UN WWAP and the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation. Targets 6 and 7 are on the risk proofing of urban areas and utilities, led by UN HABITAT and IWA.
The Leads of each Target will in the run up to the 6th World Water Forum strengthen the partnership and will report the solutions and way forward in the Forum. Conversely, the 6th Forum is a strong stimulus for all the Target Leads to drive for action and results.