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UNDRR: Water management key to climate adaptation


Managing water resources, such as rivers and groundwater, can play a key role in reducing the death and destruction from future disasters, says a new UNDRR podcast released to celebrate World Water Day 2022 on March 22.

Climate change causes some 90 percent of disasters, including floods and droughts, and as climate change intensifies, these water-related disasters will likely become more frequent and intense.

“We need to stop trying to manage disasters after they strike us,” says Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

“We need to start managing disaster risks by reducing them,” she says in the podcast.

Floodplains allow rivers to flood safely by creating the space for more water, while groundwater – the theme for this year’s World Water Day – builds resilience against drought.

Henk Ovink, the Netherlands’ Special Envoy for International Water Affairs and Sherpa to the High-Level Panel for the UN 2023 Water Conference, says that well-managed water resources can also create safer and more pleasant environments in cities such as Rotterdam or Chennai.

However, effective management of these water resources often requires international collaboration. Like rivers and lakes, large bodies of water often cross political borders. A UNDRR Words into Action Implementation guide for addressing water-related disasters and transboundary cooperation offers extensive guidance for international and transboundary water management.

“Our job is to remind people that disasters do not need to devastate if we are better in preventing and if we are better at preparing for disasters, we can save lives and improve quality of lives for many people,” Ms Mizutori said.

As the world places more and more emphasis on adaptation, water management is likely to feature also at next year’s UN water conference in New York, to be co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands.


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