The Stream, November 16, 2022: UN Climate Summit Hosts First ‘Water Day’ at COP27

The next phase of climate research is to understand whether meteorological disruption will not only force people out of their homes, but also compel them to move. Photo © J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue


  • Brazil’s new president reiterates pledge to protect the Amazon and enact climate policy.
  • Scientists urge the World Health Organization to revise draft guidelines for two PFAS chemicals in drinking water.
  • The government of Manitoba, Canada, releases a new water strategy that focuses on reducing demand.
  • Voters in southeastern Arizona approved new groundwater rules in one basin and rejected them in another.

At the UN climate summit, world leaders hear the importance of water in climate response.

“Water cannot be ignored anymore. Water is already, as of today, at the heart of climate actions.” – Hami Sewilam, Egypt’s minister of water resources and irrigation.

Delegates to COP27 witnessed the first Water Day at the annual UN climate summit. Many speakers advocated that water take on a bigger role in climate response. The Water and Climate Leaders, a group of UN officials, private sector representatives, and current and former government ministers, called for countries to integrate their climate and water plans. Egypt, which is hosting the summit, promoted the AWARe initiative to improve adaptation and water supply reliability.

In context: IPCC Climate Report: Six Key Findings for Water

— Brett Walton, Interim Stream Editor

Recent WaterNews from Circle of Blue

Drought in the American West

Voters in southeastern Arizona delivered a split decision on the question of groundwater regulation. The Arizona Republic reports that voters in Cochise County approved regulations for the Douglas groundwater basin. Called an Active Management Area, it is the first AMA initiated by citizen petition since Arizona began regulating groundwater in 1980. Voters in the neighboring Willcox basin had different thoughts. By a 2-1 margin they rejected an AMA. Therefore, groundwater withdrawals will continue to be unregulated. Because of large-scale farm irrigation in the basins, wells have gone dry and the land has compacted, in some cases cracking highways.

Check out Circle of Blue’s drought coverage for more of the biggest headlines out of the drying American West.

This Week’s Top Water Stories, Told In Numbers

56 Percent

Increase in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon in the 2019-2022 period compared to the three previous years. The increase coincided with the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, a business-first politician who lost his re-election bid last month. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the newly elected president, pledged to revive environmental protection. SciDevNet reports that changing course will require new laws, public consultation, and investments in agency staff and science.

Number of scientists from across the globe who signed a letter objecting to the World Health Organization’s draft guidelines for two PFAS chemicals in drinking water. The letter writers asked the global health organization to revise or retract guidelines for PFOA and PFOS. They argue that the guidelines would not adequately protect human health. They also question the organization’s transparency in the drafting process and want the names of the authors and reviewers to be disclosed.

On the Radar

The government of Manitoba, Canada, released a new water strategy that focuses on reducing demand instead of increasing supply. The CBC reports that the strategy is the foundation of an action plan that the government will now develop in consultation with industries and environmental groups. Options include new ways of pricing water, detecting leaks, recycling water, preserving river habitats, and opposing the transfer of water between basins, which is being pursued upstream in North Dakota. The action plan is expected to be published in the spring.

More Water News

Waterborne Disease: Cholera’s return to Lebanon exposes clean water crisis

Extreme Weather: Intensification of sub-hourly heavy rainfall

American West: On its 100th birthday, the Colorado River Compact shows its age

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