13.05.2019 -

Megacities' challenges related to water and climate change

Representatives of the main megacities of Latin America, water and sanitation managers, academics and researchers gathered in São Paulo, Brazil, on May 7 and 8, at the International Conference "Latin America: Megacities, water and climate change" . This was the first regional event organized by the Alliance of Megacities for Water and Climate (MAWAC), co-organized by UNESCO and its partners ICLEI, ARCEAU Ile-de-France and SIAAP, with the generous support of the National Agency of Water (ANA) of Brazil. The objective was to generate a meeting with representatives of the largest cities in region of Latin America and the to discuss alternatives and good practices, facing problems related to water management related to climate change.

Joakim Giacomoni-Vincent, President of SIAAP, warned of the imminent problem of climate change for all cities, affirming, "for 10 years we have been talking about climate change as a future problem, and now we have to face it." In turn, Referring to the purpose of the Conference, Alexandros Makarigakis - Specialist for the International Hydrological Program (IHP) of UNESCO – conveyed that "today we are here to create a platform of cooperation among the megacities, so that they can, together, find the solutions for the management of water, since water resources are scarce in many of them, and climate change makes the scenario even more difficult. The idea is for megacities to discover their power to solve problems related to their water security."

The Conference, organized in the framework of UNESCO's International Hydrological Program (IHP), brought together more than one hundred representatives from six megacities of the Latin American and Caribbean region: Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Santiago de Chile. The event discussed the effects of climate change on water security and the risks to its economic activity and social stability.

During the first day (open to the public), the present and future challenges of climate change affecting water security in Latin America and the Caribbean, the risks to economic activity and social stability, and solutions to these problems were addressed. The participating cities presented their water and sanitation systems, current and emerging challenges, and possible ways to manage water resources with a future outlook.

On the second day (only for experts), the discussion was about the the Alliance of Megacities for Water and Climate, and a framework for a regional alliance of MAWAC was presented. The participants had an exchange about the terms of reference of this regional chapter in relation to the global platform. The conferred idea was for the regional alliance to strengthen South-South Cooperation among the Latin American and Caribbean megacities, in the fields related to research, technical solutions, education, information and public policies related to water management. At the same time, thematic monographs for the region on water security and mitigation of climate change impacts were discussed, as part of a publication to be launched in Paris during the International Conference of MAWAC.

Among its participants and exhibitors were Mr. João Doria, Governor of São Paulo; Mr. Alexandros Makarigakis, specialist of the International Hydrological Program and Mr. Jean-Claude Deutsch, Director of ARCEAU-. The event was a relevant opportunity to strengthen the dialogue between stakeholders on water and climate change in the Latin American and Caribbean region and prepare their future participation in the Eaumega2020 conference, to be held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, June 29 - July 3, 2020.

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