On the 22nd of August the Green Climate Fund released its draft sectoral guide on Water Security. Although this document is still a ‘consultation version’, this step is still highly significant in view of the fact that action on water is still excluded from mainstream decision making on climate change. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the world’s largest dedicated fund aimed at supporting developing countries in their responses to climate change. The fund has a portfolio of approximately US $ 10 billion, of which 70% is in the process of being implemented, and some US $ 3 billion was disbursed during 2021. This finance is intended to help reduce emissions (mitigation) and taking action to prevent or minimise damage through climate change (adaptation), and during COP 26 in Glasgow many headline and side events attested to the fact that water is the ‘face’ of climate change, whether it is included in climate agreements or not. Under the Paris Agreement , countries are obliged to submit Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which set out their mitigation and adaptation plans. As of the end of last year, 39 countries had included an adaptation component in their NDCs of which 79% had prioritised freshwater adaptation. Under all climate scenario’s, the historical water cycle is set to be disrupted, with some areas experiencing higher frequency, higher intensity precipitation, and other areas experiencing less reliable precipitation and increasing drought frequency. Planners need to (re)consider water infrastructure design such as ‘sponge cities’ which are designed to absorb rain and prevent flooding. Utilities need to be protected such that they continue to function both in situations of water shortages and in situations of excess water. Investments are needed in a new class of infrastructure referred to as grey-green infrastructure, along two pathways: enhancing conservation, water efficiency and water re-use, and strengthening Integrated Water Resources Management to preserve existing water resources sand protect them from climate impacts.
Ahead of a final decision on its policies in support of the water sector, the draft Sectoral Guide for Water is a preview of the GCF’s main orientation. Project proposals will be judged on a set of six key criteria: impact potential, the potential to shift the paradigm in water management, the contribution of the project to the implementation of the SDGs, the needs of the recipient, the degree of country ownership of the project in question, and the efficiency and effectiveness of the project.