Water and Climate

According to the IPCC, “climate change is projected to reduce renewable surface water and groundwater resources in most dry subtropical regions…intensifying competition for water.” (IPCC, AR5) The IPCC further found that climate change will likely increase the risk of water scarcity in urban areas and “rural areas are expected to experience major impacts on water availability and supply.” Reduced access to water will disproportionately impact persons, groups and peoples in vulnerable situations. For example, reduced access to water introduces added burdens for women and girls in developing countries, who are often responsible for fetching water for their families from distant sources and have distinct needs for water and sanitation.  There can be no doubt that the human rights to water and sanitation which are derived from the rights to health and an adequate standard of living found within the ICESCR is threatened by inadequate climate action.

COY11 and the WaterLex workshop

The December 2015 11th Conference of Youth was much bigger than the previous Conference, showing a growing interest for youth to take action in ongoing climate debates. The purpose of the COY is to present the youth voice just before the Conference of the Parties,with the idea that young people are creative, they know about the limits of our model of society, and they are ready to start a paradigm shift to pave the way to a more sustainable and desirable society. Thus, during 3 days, more than 5,000 young people from all over the globe gathered in Paris for an unprecedented mobilization, to build a real momentum, and strengthen the visibility of actions and the expertise of young people in favor of a more sustainable and desirable lifestyle. Workshops, movies, activities, debates, trainings, games. A broad variety of activities were proposed for youth to get inspired, discover, debate, create and take action.

The Federation of French Scouting invited WaterLex’s Brieux Michoud to lead the work and to propose activities that would raise awareness on topics closely related to climate change: activities on water and human rights. The purpose of the workshop was to highlight the importance of considering basic human needs as a priority, in the frame of the human rights. In the format of activities and games, WaterLex invited the youth attending the COY to reflect on the question, “Should the climate conference outcome document contain reference to a water law that will ensure all people have access to clean water for their basic needs?” The youth were then invited to take action as engaged citizens, by communicating with their local governments, with simple, positive actions such as cleaning a local river, and also to raise their voices through the manifesto of the COY.

Conference Youth COY11

WaterLex conducted workshops for 40 youth from all over the world, and encouraged them to take part in the #WaterRules! Campaign on social media, to raise the voice of the youth for improved water laws that are linked to the international initiative #climateiswater.

WaterLex also participated in the debates about the content of the Manifesto of the COY, which was presented to the leaders of the Paris COP21, Mr. Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Coordinator of the Paris COP21, and Mr. Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of the French government for climate. Both were tasked to bring the voice of the youth, through this manifesto, at the heart of the climate negotiations happening at the Paris COP21. The COY Manifesto contained expertise on the fields of Human Rights and of the role of water in sustainable development (SDG 6, Clean Water for All).