In the run up to COP 27 which will take place in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, from 6-18 November, consultations are already underway that will shape the agenda for the event.
Although many topics are on the table for discussion, related to both climate mitigation and adaptation, two initiatives in particular have the full attention of the host government, i.e. a water initiative, known as Action for Water Adaptation and Resilience (AWARE), and the Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation (FAST) initiative. Both initiatives will probably obtain the status of presidential initiative and are therefore likely to take a prominent position within the COP 27 agenda.
The AWARE initiative seeks to catalyse action around water as a key to climate adaptation and resilience. The integration of water and climate action is at the centre of the AWARE initiative, and within this field, increased capacity for flood and drought forecasting is likely to be a key action point.
During COP 26 in Glasgow, major efforts were already underway to emphasise the interlinkages between water and climate through, amongst others, a water pavilion which hosted water related events throughout.
In the area of water, the COP 27 programme will feature three things: a water pavilion, a dedicated water day within the programme, and the AWARE initiative.
Already at COP 23 in Marrakech, a climate action pathway for water had been identified, opening space for dialogue on water-climate interactions. Water has an important role to play in the Adaptation Action Coalition co-developed by the UK and Egyptian governments. However, many of the key modalities for action such as sustainable finance and capacity building still need to be fleshed out.
Through consultation with various parties, the Egyptian government is currently trying to create an umbrella structure that brings together and interlinks the various initiatives. The concept is currently still open for comments, but the final draft document is expected to be launched in July.
Although the climate – water interlinkages are broadly recognised, it is not yet evident that reference will be made to these interactions in the final COP 27 declaration. There is consensus that water is not only the central impact vehicle for climate related natural disasters such as droughts and floods, but also a potential contributor to resilience through, amongst others, the strengthening of early warning systems.
There are many initiatives for the COP that have gained significant momentum, but it is not yet clear which of these may yet merge to form more consolidated initiatives, and which may fall to the wayside as discussions continue.
Nevertheless, as mentioned, the water and food initiatives currently appear to have a strong likelihood of becoming flagship initiatives supported by the Egyptian presidency.
End of July / early August there will be announcements of the various key initiatives which will be further detailed during the Cairo Water Week.