Globally strengthening national climate plans through water management

Water is critical for climate adaptation and resilience

Our planet and society experience the impacts of climate change primarily through changes in the water cycle. Droughts, storms, and urban and coastal flooding occur with more frequency and higher intensity as the climate changes, and other impacts such as saltwater intrusion are increasing with unprecedented speed. This has severe consequences for health, food security, and political stability. Low-income communities, already vulnerable to water supply threats, are likely to be the worst affected by the increased regularity and severity of these climate events.

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Countries around the world are developing plans in response to climate change and to meet commitments of the Paris Agreement, such as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Yet these plans often overlook the strategic role of water in climate adaptation solutions.

Water is one of the best solutions to combat climate impacts and it is equally vital for climate adaptation. Water spans across all sectors and has the potential to enhance prosperity when there is robust, flexible, and strategic planning between the sectors. Climate actions including expanding climate-resilient irrigation; protecting and restoring wetlands; developing reliable water, sanitation, and hygiene services; and reducing the risk of flooding and drought are all directly related to water. Without considering the cross-sector nature of water, there is the risk of conflict, competition, and outright maladaptation to the changing climate.

Water initiatives to deliver a climate resilient world

The AAC Water Workstream, led by the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), is working to help put water at the heart of national climate planning. Its goal is to strengthen countries’ national climate plans to make them more effective, coherent, and impactful.

In 2020, AGWA published the ‘Watering the NDCs’ report, which provides a set of recommendations for how water can play a key role in climate policies to strengthen climate change mitigation and adaptation goals.

Following this report, in 2021, AGWA launched the Water Tracker for National Climate Planning. This tool assesses water use, allocation, and trade-offs across multiple sectors to ensure that water-related plans, policies, and investments are robust, flexible, and able to withstand the impacts of climate change.

Since its launch, the Water Tracker has been used in 6 countries including Costa Rica, Malawi, and Egypt.

Water Champions

Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, the early findings from the Water Tracker are already enhancing national planning processes, building on existing work to improve adaptation efforts. The Tracker was used to evaluate the country’s national climate plans and the findings were presented to the Costa Rican government along with recommendations for improvements. As a result, the country is preparing a series of national and sub-national workshops to review the feedback, looking at the role of water across energy, tourism, and finance sectors.


In Malawi, the Water Tracker was used to assess the country’s NDC and recently drafted National Water Policy. This provided insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the Malawian National Climate Change Planning Framework. In the future, the assessment will be broadened across this Framework with a focus on stakeholder-led priorities.

Looking ahead to COP27

In the run-up to COP27, the AAC Water Workstream will be expanding the implementation of the Water Tracker to several more countries, and plans to host peer-to-peer workshops to enable countries to share expertise and regional knowledge. This sets a precedent for countries using the findings of the Water Tracker to update and improve their climate plans and encourages more countries to do so.

The Workstream will also be participating in several key events this year, including the World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal; Middle East and North Africa Climate Week in Dubai, UAE, and the SWA Sector Ministers' Meeting (SMM) in Jakarta, Indonesia, which will feature the Water Tracker.

AGWA is also preparing to host an event at the Latin America & the Caribbean regional climate week in the summer of 2022.



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Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management Netherlands logo

Countries involved in the workstream:

  • Costa Rica
  • Malawi
  • Egypt
  • Somalia
  • Panama
  • Ecuador


If you're interested in learning more or getting involved with the Water workstream, contact Kelsey Harpham.


Cover image credit: UNDP Climate Flickr


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