Focusing on A Brighter Future at the UN Water Conference

Posted on 22 February 2023

Official side event at global summit on tackling the climate crisis and protecting freshwater biodiversity with the right renewables in the right places
Official UN Water Conference Side Event
A Brighter Future: Tackling the climate crisis and protecting freshwater biodiversity
with the right renewables in the right places

Wednesday, March 22nd, 12:30-1:45
Nature Hub – Apella, 450 East 29th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY, 10016

Register for the event here

Lead Organization: WWF
Partner Organizations: The Nature Conservancy, Natel Energy, Low Impact Hydropower Institute, AECOM, International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC)

Our planet faces two threats like no other in human history - climate change and nature loss. Water and freshwater ecosystems are at the heart of both these crises. We must act now to accelerate the renewable energy revolution and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But we must avoid harming communities, rivers and nature in the process.

Water is at the heart of this challenge as climate change is impacting the water cycle. We are witnessing shifts in precipitation patterns and snow cover, and an increase in the frequency of flooding and droughts. This has a tremendous impact on water supply and in turn in the way water is used and shared between people and planet.

Hydropower in particular — which has long been the world’s dominant renewable energy source — can cause significant negative impacts on rivers and the people that depend on them as highlighted by the World Commission on Dams in 2000.

Fortunately, we can minimize negative impacts on nature by investing in the right renewables in the right places. We can now meet global climate and energy goals without driving greater nature loss, sacrificing the world’s last free-flowing rivers, and harming communities and indigenous people. Healthy rivers are of essence to achieve SDG 6. If we look at rivers holistically and not just as conduits of water, we realize that any disruption of their health cascades on people’s livelihoods.

The event will present a thorough overview of the status of our rivers around the globe, highlighting what is at risk if we continue damming them without strategic, “smart from the start” planning and proper safeguards, ensuring we  recognize the values rivers provide for people’s livelihood (with special focus on hydropower which is the primary driver for river disruption).

The introduction will make the case that rivers connected source to sea are not “water wasted” but a significant asset to maintain for the multiple benefits they provide society, such as fisheries, resilient deltas, and buffering against floods, among others.

We will then showcase solutions nested in decision-support science, policy and finance that fulfill energy needs while preserving healthy rivers. We will host a discussion with a panel composed of representatives from the public and private sectors including government representatives, financing institutions, consultancy firms, and civil society organizations engaged with the energy-food-water-ecosystem challenge.

The panel discussion will illuminate a suite of solutions and opportunities for accelerating the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Introduction to A Brighter Future microsite from WWF & TNC
UN Water Conference, New York, March 22-24
© UN Water Conference
Introduction to A Brighter Future microsite from WWF & TNC
Wind turbines are a major source of clean energy.
© Creative Commons