Water and Urban

Water is vital for maintaining health, growing food, generating energy, managing the environment, and creating jobs. Yet a lack of clean water threatens to limit economic growth in many developing countries. By 2050, demand for water will increase by 55 percent and the number of people living with water scarcity will grow to 3.1 billion. By 2050, water in streams and channels critical for sustaining the environment and freshwater ecosystems is projected to be affected in 42 percent to 79 percent of the world’s watersheds. As climate change intensifies the hydrological cycle, there is a potential doubling of flood risk and a 1.2- to 1.8-fold increase in GDP loss due to flooding. This mostly affects disadvantaged communities and in particular, women and adolescent girls, urban residents of informal settlements, and the poor in countries characterized by fragility, conflict, and violence

The impacts of climate change are most acutely expressed through water, which has historically defined and enabled human development. This puts adaptation in water at the heart of a robust global response to climate change. The Water and Urban program is responding to this adaptation opportunity through the:

Contact Information

For more information on this program, or to get involved, please contact:

Joep Verhagen

Global Lead, Water and Urban

Goal for 2025

The Water and Urban program aims to support national governments to rapidly accelerate and scale urban climate adaptation and provide climate resilient water services for people, food, nature, and the economy.

City Adaptation Accelerator with Locally Led Adaptation

More than 80% of the global GDP is generated in cities – the engines of economic growth. However, an increasing number of cities are becoming climate vulnerability hotspots. Greater numbers of people, assets and economic activities are exposed to climate events as urban areas in the developing world continue to grow rapidly. Increasingly, sea-level rise, erosion, cyclones and flooding will affect low-lying and coastal cities, while water stress, heat stress, fires and droughts will impact urban environments in drylands.  According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index, 79 African cities rank among the 100 fastest growing cities in the world, but also fall within the “extreme risk” category.

The Accelerator leverages partners to provide support to African cities through a comprehensive city diagnostic exercise. The exercise identifies priority investments in both municipal management and resilient infrastructure such as in water, sanitation and solid waste, mobility and housing, and green and grey infrastructure to mitigate droughts and urban floods. Based on the assessments, including those that identify scalable locally led action, specific investments and actions for financing are identified. Investments and other supporting actions will be designed in a way that maximizes jobs and creates small and medium-sized enterprises for adaptation services.

In N’Djamena the capital of Chad, for example, working with the World Bank, GCA is providing technical assistance to a US$100 million investment Gender Vulnerability Assessment and Investment Prioritization Analysis to improve the design and prioritization of infrastructure to mitigate flood risks. The Water and Urban team is also supporting projects in Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone.

Climate Resilient Water Services

Climate resilient catchments are key to resilient water services. GCA is carrying out diagnostics to better understand current and future climate pressures to catchments. Technical assistance is provided to design nature-based resilience-building solutions. An understanding of climate risks to both physical and natural assets, water services, and people optimizes the location,  design, and investments for the provision and sustenance of water services.

For example, work in Uganda will use assessments of climate risks to water resource catchments and drinking water service delivery assets to design and seek finance for adaptation measures, including nature-based solutions. Other supporting measures, including a cross-sector policy dialogue to enable the implementation of adaptation, will be put in place.

Water Adaptation Community

This platform puts the community of practitioners that decide on, finance and implement adaptation solutions in the driving seat of peer-to-peer learning that distills and transfers policy and operational knowledge, and scales learning from hands-on experience.

Through a series of webinars, a vibrant collaborative online platform, active communities of practice, and other communication and knowledge products, the Water Adaptation Community is now a well-established and inclusive global peer-to-peer platform for knowledge exchange, capacity building and scaling of adaptation solutions.

Technical and Whitepapers

Living with water: climate adaptation in the world’s deltas

Lighthouse cases for scaling up and accelerating water adaptation in delta countries

22 January 2021

Global Center on Adaptation

Adaptation’s Thirst: Accelerating the Convergence of Water and Climate Action

In the words of Carter Roberts, “The language of water is the language of climate change.”

23 December 2019

D Mark Smith and John H Matthews

Contact Information

For more information on this program, or to get involved, please contact:

Joep Verhagen

Program Lead Water and Urban

Other Programs