On 15 November, Csaba Kőrösi, president of the UN General Assembly, referred to the event as the “water COP 27.” He thanked the host country for its efforts in highlighting the link between climate change and water.
The link between water and climate change is already apparent. In the Paris Agreement, water is a vital component of the adaptation and mitigation strategies that are being implemented by almost every country.
It was therefore important that the UNFCCC held a special day dedicated to water at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27). Several events were organized on 14 November to highlight the link between water and climate change. A dedicated pavilion for water was also established at the conference, and various events were organized during the duration of COP27. Several participants from the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Water Network, including its coordinator Dinesh Suna, as well as the chair Bishop Arnold Temple, participated in several of these events.
Temple, president of the All Africa Conference of Churches and outgoing chair of WCC Ecumenical Water Network, underlined the importance of a justice and human rights approach to these discussions around water and climate. He said, “water is a gift of God, a public good, and a human right. Thus to address the challenges of climate change, we must not promote the privatization of water as a solution. Water must remain in the control of the public, while private actors are most welcome to provide innovation, technology, and finance.”
Referring to the UN Water Conference scheduled for 22-24 March 2023 at the UN headquarters in New York, the first since the 1970s, Suna expressed his disappointment on the lack of participation from civil society organisations (CSOs). He told the presidency representative of the Netherlands, Ovink Henk, “while it is important to have this linkage between the climate in the COP27, the absence of grassroots water activists and CSOs as speakers at these events, must not set precedence for the New York UN Water conference. Otherwise, we will miss out on the voices of those who are battling in the frontline of climate change and water crisis.”
Temple noted that the discussions about climate and water should be conducted in a way that promotes human rights and justice. He also emphasized the importance of maintaining control of the public sector when it comes to water. He noted that the privatization of water is not a solution to the challenges of climate change. Instead, private actors should be encouraged to provide innovative technology and finance.
World Toilet Day 2022 is observed annually to raise awareness about the sanitation crisis and the impact it has on groundwater. Since 2013, this event has been held to celebrate and raise awareness about the over 3.6 billion people who don't have access to safe sanitation. It is also about achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 of providing all people with access to water and sanitation.
In 2022, the campaign "Making the invisible visible" aims to raise awareness about the issue of inadequate sanitation systems that allow human waste to contaminate soil, lakes, and rivers. This problem is invisible because it occurs underground, and it affects the most marginalized and impoverished communities.
“It's high time we break the taboos associated with sanitation, and toilets and openly talk about it, pray about it. The world is coming out of its closets to talk about the water closets, which billions do not have!” said Suna.
Despite their importance related to climate resilience, water, sanitation, and hygiene services are typically not included in the plans and commitments of countries when it comes to addressing climate change. This is because the officials responsible for implementing policies on climate change often disregard these services' contributions to the mitigation and adaptation efforts.