event 07 Jun 2023

Enabel International Conference // The importance of water in the context of climate change adaptation, Brussels, 25th – 26th April 2023

On 25th and 26th April 2023, the international conference on Climate Change adaptation and water was organised by Enabel, the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD) of the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, and VITO. It highlighted the transformative and cross-cutting role of water and gave interesting insights into different approaches to tackle the climate change challenges.


Under the topic "Is climate change adaptation all about water?" the conference featured two days of engaging discussions, with approximately 200 participants from 15 countries and various sectors, including 19 speakers representing international organisations, research institutes, Belgian local authorities, development agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations, and the private sector. By recognising the broader aspects of climate change adaptation beyond technology, the conference opened avenues for innovative and inclusive solution, while 24 presentations showcased on cutting-edge technologies and methodologies that hold potential as future solutions.


Shaping the future: Youth perspective and the importance of water

Remarkable impressions during the conference were provided right at the beginning and also in the further run of the conference: Two young people presented the younger generations’ perspectives and the discussion on how current innovations and future-oriented thinking can be align with the "Youth Vision 2050" of a desirable future for the younger generation. While underlining the importance of knowledge and experiences sharing, they called on all participants to discuss and act with this in mind. In addition, the artist Guy Wouétè asked the audience the question, what would be if water participated here and what would it say? With this question in mind, he illustrated in a vivid and precise way the importance of water as a vehicle for people, their activities and the environment, even if it is influenced, for example, by the existing power dynamics. In doing so, he emphasised the need to ask questions, to think across borders and to include different perspectives.


Panel Discussion: Water as driver of the WEFE Nexus

The conference responded to these recommendations and started various debates, dialogues and break-out workshops. For example, the panel discussions addressed topics such as urban resilience and nature-based solutions, the challenges and opportunities of the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus, and practical solutions in urban resilience and nature-based solutions. The head of the GIZ Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme (NRDP), Irene Sander, stressed out in a panel discussion about Water as driver of the WEFE Nexus what it need to upscale WEF Nexus solutions. Presenting the experiences from the programme, Irene Sander highlighted that more collaboration is essential, because “we realised that the different actors do not come together often enough. We need to bridge the gap between funders, policymakers and end users.”

@Coline Graphics

Nexus Indicators and Nexus Impact Assesments

In a break-out Working Group on "Impact monitoring: Tools, methods and added value", Hannah Mosley and Eleonora Hoffmann, GIZ NRDP, presented the newly developed Nexus Indicators of the Nexus Impact Assessment (NIA) Toolkit and actively discussed their possible applications, targeting and meaning with the participants. After very frutiful discussions and feedback, building on the different perspectives and experiences of all participants, the working group recommended to the whole audience that data plays an important role, requiring an open source to foster ownership of a project, with trust and communication being key.

Future Action

The Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation and Major Cities, Caroline Gennez, concluded the international conference with her remarks, declaring that “[b]ecause of international solidarity, it is obvious to me that we have to invest in sustainable water management and guarantee drinking water for all, everywhere in the world, and above all, that we have to tackle the climate crisis now, that we have do so sustainably and to the very end because water is life and of key importance for humans, for animals, for plants and for the whole of society.”

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