On December 10, designated as Food, Agriculture, and Water Day at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the United States announced that it has joined the Freshwater Challenge, an international partnership committed to the conservation and restoration of freshwater ecosystems.  The United States also joined the Water-Resilient Food Systems Ministerial’s joint outcome statement, which highlighted the link between the planet’s water and food systems.

Water security is a U.S. priority both at home and abroad. During COP28, the United States discussed water security activities in the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE), including:

  • U.S.-led water interventions supporting climate adaptation across sectors, including in humanitarian, development, and peace-building;
  • Progress implementing the White House Action Plan on Global Water Security and the U.S. Global Water Strategy; and,
  • Efforts to support freshwater’s role in promoting climate-resilient agriculture, food systems, and infrastructure and to establish early warning systems and scientific models.

Domestically, the United States’ first national conservation goal sets a target of conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. waters by 2030, and the America the Beautiful Initiative has reconnected more than 1,300 miles of streams and rivers and restored more than 1,900 acres of wetlands. At the 2023 UN Water Conference, the United States announced $49 billion in commitments to address global water security and sanitation.  The State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs leads a wide range of water adaptation and mitigation-related programs:

Ambassador’s Water Experts Program (AWEP): provides rapid-response American expertise to international partners on critical water and climate adaptation challenges.

In Partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior, AWEP has deployed over 30 U.S. experts to support more than 20 technical and capacity building engagements since 2019, including in Guatemala, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Morocco, Uganda, and the Philippines.  AWEP works through U.S. diplomatic posts to respond to time sensitive requests for support on a broad range of water and climate resilience topics and promotes long-term collaboration on water security.

Women in Water Diplomacy: empowers women to meaningfully participate at all levels in the development of water and climate adaptation related policy and diplomacy.

In partnership with the Stockholm International Water Institute, OES supports the “Women in Water Diplomacy Network,” which empowers women professionals to engage in decision-making processes and fosters greater integration of gender aspects in water management and water and climate diplomacy.  This program currently supports two networks of professional women in Northeast Africa and Central Asia, with plans to expand to other geographic regions.

“Sister Rivers Partnership”: promotes sharing of experiences between the Mississippi River Commission and the Mekong River Commission to increase regional stability and prosperity.

For over a decade, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has worked with the Department of State’s Mekong-U.S. Partnership (MUSP) to implement the Sister Rivers Partnership.  Through the partnership, the Commissions conduct annual exchanges to enhance the Mekong countries’ capabilities to sustainably manage natural resources, share water data, enhance disaster risk mitigation, and build analytical capacity for water management.  The Sister Rivers Partnership promotes international collaboration, technical exchanges, and sharing of best practices for the sound management of transboundary water resources, especially in light of the climate crisis’ impact on water resources, among experts in the Mississippi and Mekong River basins.

Strategic Hydrologic and Agricultural Remote-sensing for Environments (SHARE): deploys National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) technology to monitor climate-impacted areas of water stress to strengthen sustainable water and natural resources management.

A collaborative effort between NASA and the Department of State, SHARE responds to strategic satellite-data needs highlighted in the U.S. Global Water Strategy. The goal of SHARE is to strengthen sustainable water and natural resources management through applied remote sensing and modeling activities. In FY 2023, SHARE provided technical assistance on information and data management to over 40 local organizations to improve their capacity to manage shared water source protection and adapt to impacts of climate change.

NexGen: empowers the next generation to lead on water and climate adaptation solutions.

In collaboration with the U.S. Department of the Interior, the NexGen Mekong Scientists (NexGen) program promotes interdisciplinary approaches to the complex transboundary challenges faced within the Lower Mekong Basin, providing educational and mentorship opportunities to empower early career professionals in the region. NexGen has supported over 50 fellows and continues to amplify underrepresented voices in water and climate diplomacy, including younger scientists and women scientists, inspiring the next generation to bring fresh perspectives to Mekong sub-regional challenges.

Global Water Security Dialogues: will establish an inclusive intergovernmental “Track 1.5 dialogue” to help inform the direction of international conversations on the water agenda, especially as it relates to climate. Planned for 2024, this program will establish an international “Track 1.5” dialogue, combining elements of both official government conversations and unofficial discussions to inform and shape the future direction of the global water security agenda and help ensure a dialogue that is more inclusive of all stakeholders. The dialogues will focus on the inclusion of underrepresented voices in policy fora, such as representatives from countries most affected by water insecurity and the impacts of climate change.

U.S. Department of State

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