Why Water Sanitation and Hygiene must be Top of your Climate Agenda

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Publication Year:
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

A Call to Action: What Can Sector Planners, Policy Makers and Experts Do?


Climate change has a tremendous negative impact on WASH services. But at the same time, the WASH sector presents a huge opportunity to contribute to global adaptation and mitigation goals, through the building of a climate-resilient, low-carbon WASH sector.

This briefing note is aimed at planners, policy makers and experts in both the climate sector and the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector. It looks at the links between the two sectors, considers how both can benefit from closer integration, and highlights why an increased focus on climate-resilient water, sanitation and hygiene is a critical element of taking action on climate.

There are three key messages to take into consideration:

  • Water is the primary medium through which we feel the effects of climate change.
  • The WASH sector is already investing in climate resilience, both mitigation and adaptation, and is part of the solution.
  • Investing climate finance in the WASH sector is increasingly seen as both an essential and attractive investment.

The potential contributions that the WASH sector can make to reduce climate impacts is enormous. In order to realise them, and to accelerate the climate adaptation and mitigation of global WASH services, planners and policy makers in both sectors can focus their efforts on five key areas for action:

  • Alignment between sectors
  • Engagement between sectors
  • Financing
  • Focusing on the most vulnerable
  • Researching and innovating

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