Water: A Major Concern At COP27

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by Aaroshi Rathor
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COP27 has brought about a lot of positive developments when it comes to addressing climate change problems. From officially announcing ‘Loss and Damage’ finance funding to making ‘Health’ a priority for governments and businesses, the climate summit seems, this year, to be slowly but steadily taking action towards global problems through its discussions. Along with the formal negotiations, COP27 has organised a series of “thematic days” to hold talks on pressing issues such as water scarcity, gender equality, civil society and more that have an immediate impact on the climate crisis. 

However, water scarcity problems at the climate conference have posed a sort of ‘irony’ to all delegates, journalists and state heads attending the event. According to several attendees, since the conference began on 6 November, water dispensers have stood empty for quite a few hours. Since this incident, many officials attending the conference were forced to bring their own water to the event. The rest had to use water running from the washroom taps, even though the instructions not to use them were placed as it is desalinated water. 

After a lot of distress complaints, officials at the event tried to fix the dire situation by offering ‘free drinks’ to all the attendees. It is important to note that ‘water’ is essential for the survival of human beings and no amount of other drinks can replace it. The alarming thing to note is that such a water crisis situation has never happened at any of the previous COPs. Sure, there were accessibility problems in the previous COP summit, but nothing compared to the recent COP27. Amongst water scarcity problems, there were other glitches at the event that led to a lot of chaos. Transportation for the differently abled attendees was irresponsible as many of them were not provided with shuttle buses on time and others were left in the middle of the street with no proper facilities. Organisers have not been able to communicate properly for transportation, especially for people with disabilities. According to most of the participants, some of the most basic of facilities at the event have not been properly managed.  

Some of the climate summit attendees termed this COP as one of the most ‘confusing’ when it comes to proper accessibility, transportation and the recurring water scarcity problem.Interestingly, this year’s COP was frequently referred  to as an ‘African COP’ in order to understand the impact of climate change specifically affecting African nations and hence, it was categorically organised at Sharm-El-Sheikh,with an Egyptian resort town between the desert of Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea. The main purpose of the climate conference was to look at the plight of developing nations facing the worst impacts of climate crisis and putting a possible stop to the ongoing carbon emissions that are continuously raising the global temperatures above 1.5 degrees celsius that are putting a threat on the planet. However, haphazard management of the COP27 conference is turning out to be more of a hassle for the attendees instead of  bringing about any good change for the climate 

Well, it now seems that attendees have actually gotten a taste of the water shortage crisis that most African countries are facing every day of their lives. However, This is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of the kind of water problems that are affecting developing countries across the world. The host nation, Egypt, is also solely dependent on the Nile river for its agriculture and economy, and this poses a major water scarcity problem for the country in the future. 

According to a report by UNESCO, Some of the world’s most iconic heritage sites are set to disappear by 2050 due to the global rise in temperatures. Talking about the report, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)  Director General Dr, Bruno Oberle noted, “When glaciers melt rapidly, millions of people face water scarcity and the increased risk of natural disasters such as flooding, and millions more may be displaced by the resulting rise in seawater levels. This study highlights the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and invest in Nature-based solutions, which can help mitigate climate change and allow people to better adapt to its impacts.”  

The key takeaway from this alarming water problem at a climate conference like COP27 is that the time for talks and discussions is long gone. Countries need to act now when it comes to implementing previous pledges taken and putting international funds to actual use, like the OPEC international fund, to help countries that have already witnessed the brutal impact of climate change. The whole of humanity is at stake if we don’t collaborate internationally and stand our common ground towards combating climate change. The ‘time to act is NOW.’    

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