Human Induced Climate Change and Water Related Crisis unite people around the world and increase the necessity for the global community to work together co-operatively with serious intent, in addressing these urgent matters.
Because water issue are of such importance to us, Directors of Active Remedy (Stella Joy and Tara Joy), attended and participated in the UN Climate Change Conference COP22, which was held in Marrakech, Morocco 7th-18th November.
Active Remedy are partners with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the Nairobi Work Program (NWP). Therefore Stella and Tara were invited to attend and participate in the 10th Focal Point Forum of the NWP on Health and Adaptation, which was part of SBSTA 45, at COP 22 on the 9th Nov.
It was a lively and interactive meeting that brought together government ministers and policy makers, researchers, scientists, practitioners, health experts and financial institutions and encouraged them to identify and discuss the key challenges relating to climate change impacts upon human health and to identify effective solutions. It emphasised the importance of action, implementation and strategic collaboration in order to close critical gaps when addressing the topic of health and adaptation.
This gave Stella and Tara the opportunity to highlight the point that in addressing the impacts of climate change on human health, water scarcity and the entire global water cycle need to be taken into account.
“Water is at the heart of both the causes and the effects of climate change ((NRC, 1998)”
Because water scarcity is closely linked to water quantity, they emphasised that concerted efforts need to be made towards restoring and preserving the ecosystems, which are essential in regulating the global water cycle and climate.
The atmosphere was friendly and attentive and it was a pleasure for Tara and Stella to meet with and discuss these matters with other delegates and to hear about their experiences from their diverse fields of expertise and geographical locations.
Representing the group that she had been discussing these matters with during the session, Stella had the opportunity to address the UNFCCC Secretariat and the entire forum.
She emphasised the relationship between the global water cycle, climate, water scarcity and health issues. She also proposed that because mountain ecosystems are key ecosystems in regulating the global water cycle and climate, that the UNFCCC SBSTA should consider the reforestation of mountain regions worldwide, as a mitigation response to key challenges in the area of climate impacts on human health.
She stated that this could be done in accordance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agreed upon by world governments in September 2015, through the implementation of Target 6.6:
“By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes”
After the 10th Focal Point Forum Stella wrote to the UNFCCC Secretariat and the chairman of SBSTA to elucidate upon these suggestions. In her letter she pointed out that a significant barrier to climate change adaptation and mitigation is that fact that climate change is often considered as a separate issue and in isolation from the global hydrological cycle, rather than an integral part of this cycle. She stressed that in 2001, the USGCRP Report ‘A Plan for a New Science Initiative of the Global Water Cycle’ highlighted that:
“The global water cycle is central to the Earth’s climate system. It transcends conventional disciplinary boundaries and is a pervasive aspect of the physical, biological, and chemical processes and interactions of the coupled climate system.”
She also sent a copy of a Report by Active Remedy, which was accepted within the UNFCCC knowledge portal as a method for mitigating climate change. This outlines the role of mountain region ecosystems in maintaining the global water cycle and climate systems and suggests innovative methods by, which the reforestation of Earth’s mountain regions could conceivably be implemented.
This Model accords with Article 7 of the Paris Agreement of 2015, which states that adaptation action should follow a ‘participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable communities and ecosystems’ and should be based on both science and local traditional knowledge.
She received a reply from the UNFCCC Secretariat, informing her that these suggestions would be considered during the preparation of their report and that they would get back to her for further information.
The connection between water scarcity, ecosystem restoration, climate and health may seem obvious. However, partly due to the way by, which the different areas effected by climate change are divided up into so many categories, the impacts of the depletion of the ecosystems that regulate climate and water, do not usually get mentioned in discussions and negotiations on how to address climate change related health issues. In such negotiations the emphasis is more often upon the increase in disease, sickness and starvation and the need to mobilise greater support for vaccinations and medical care.
We at Active Remedy agree that this is very important but we feel that without including the global water cycle and ecosystem restoration into the discussion, then a major part of the solution for mitigating the increasing health crisis would be missing.