Stockholm Environment Institute / UNDP-SIWI Water Governance Facility / Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit / Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association / Sustainable Sanitation Alliance

Contribution of sanitation to Paris Agreement: What is stopping us?

Tuesday 28 August | 16.00-17.30 | Room: NL Music Hall
Photo via Pxhere (Wastewater treatment plant in Bottrop, Germany)

Climate change is expected to exacerbate the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation, while also threatening the benefits produced by water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) systems. At the same time, integrated, and well-designed water and sanitation systems with improved sustainable waste management can make important contributions to both, climate mitigation and adaptation; a fact that is often overlooked. It is therefore a top priority to better understand the linkages between climate change and sustainable sanitation. This includes potentials of how a more sustainable sanitation can help address climate change and contribute to the Paris Agenda.

This event will explore the different angles of these links: how do sanitation issues feature in the National Determined Contributions (NDCs) to Paris Agreement? How are climate financing mechanisms considering sanitation? Cases of successful contribution of sanitation to combating climate change will be presented. A specific look at the relationship between sanitation, climate change, and gender aspects will be discussed. From an adaptation perspective, the potential of nature-based water and sanitation solutions will also be examined. A dynamic debate around working groups will be facilitated to extract ideas for how to enhance sanitation contribution to the Paris Agreement.

This event will be livestreamed here >>

Gold standard events are committed to ensure the gender balance in speakers/panellists and young professional representation in the session.


Setting the scene:
16:00    Welcome and introductionDr. Sarah Dickin, Stockholm Environment Institute
16:05    Sanitation and the climate change agenda - H.E Henk WJ Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, Kingdom of The Netherlands, and Sherpa to the High-Level Panel on Water
16:15    The perspective of the Climate Funding – the barriers for Sanitation funding?  Mr. Alastair Morrison, Senior Water Sector Specialist, Green Climate Fund (GCF)
16:25    Clarifying questions    

Providing the cases:
16:30    Key challenges in implementing Sanitation-Climate projects in the MENA regionMs.  Lara B. Nassar, Regional SuSanA Coordinator, MENA Chapter, BORDA-WesCA. – Ms. Salam Almomany, GIZ advisor of the WaCCliM Programme in Jordan

16:45    Sanitation and wastewater management in Paris - from an adaptation and mitigation perspectiveMr. JD Berthault Vice President of greater Paris sanitation Authority and Greater Paris Metropolitan Councillor, SIAAP

16:55      Clarifying questions

Raising the questions:
17:00     Audience-led panel discussion
17:25     Concluding remarks Dr . Alejandro Jimenez, UNDP – SIWI Water Governance Facility


Climate change will strike water resources hard. Many countries already face challenges meeting their basic water needs. In other cases, disasters like floods are threatening the function of sanitation and wastewater systems and lead to public health crises like cholera outbreaks.

Sanitation - a solution multiplier: Sustainable sanitation has the potential to mitigate these impacts. If the resource potential in the waste is being put to productive use it can also boost livelihoods and crop productivity, and produce renewable energy – reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Opportunities for climate funding remain untapped:  This is evidenced by the nationally determined contribution (NDC) statements countries have already submitted under the Paris Agreement. Of the activities related to Goal 6 (Clean water and sanitation) in the 2030 Agenda, only 2% deal with sanitation access, while wastewater management and water re-use are mentioned in 3%. “There has been only one project on sanitation submitted to Green Climate Fund to date, and it was for $18 million, lower than any other,” said Alastair Morrison, Senior Water Sector Specialist at the Green Climate Fund. Morrison called on all those working on sustainable sanitation to be firmer and louder in talking up its climate benefits, especially when it comes to setting national climate priorities.

Impactful and innovative examples exist, but are still rare: Experiences from Jordan and France, shared during the event, showcased the very context-specific possibilities and challenges for sustainable sanitation. Jordan expends vast energy on pumping water, making water resource efficiency and optimization priorities. Jordan committed, under the Paris Agreement, to cut 14% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, which requires major funding. Even with its limited resources, Jordan is working on a pilot project integrating renewable energy production with wastewater reuse. In Paris, the impetus to upgrade the wastewater systems initially came from serious pollution of the Seine river. Today, almost half of the energy needs of Greater Paris Sanitation Authority, SIAAP’s, wastewater treatment plants are met with energy generated from wastewater.

Partnerships between sectors are vital: An example is biogas production from a mixture of household organic waste and sewage sludge – two waste streams traditionally managed by different authorities. “It won’t work if the water sector continues stick to water; breaking the silos is our biggest challenge,” pointed out Jean-Didier Berthault, Vice-President of SIAAP.

Make it mainstream: “We need to scale up and replicate sustainable sanitation and step up communication of its climate-curbing potential!” said Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs of the Netherlands, and Sherpa to the High-Level Panel on Water. “We need to let everyone know that sanitation isn’t any longer a stinky business, but a high-tech forward-looking sector,” said Lara Nassar, Regional Coordinator for the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) in West Asia and North Africa. Similarly, Salam Almomany, Climate Adviser in Jordan, urged the international audience of sanitation practitioners and experts: “Don’t be afraid to be ambitious!”.

In conclusion, sustainable sanitation is an investment worth every penny – not just for climate mitigation and adaptation but also for human development and environmental health.