Access to water and sanitation: the missing link in urban climate adaptation

Themes: Climate change Utilities WASH Water
Countries: Global

Ahead of COP26, WSUP has released a new report highlighting the importance of water and sanitation services in helping cities adapt to climate change.

Drawing on evidence from seven countries the report, entitled The missing link in climate adaptation: How improved access to water and sanitation is helping cities adapt to climate change finds that clean water and safe sanitation services have the potential to play a major role in helping the poorest urban communities adapt to climate change. However, they are often missed out of urban climate adaption efforts and more needs to be done to enable cities to expand these services.

Download the report

The report presents four recommendations for helping water and sanitation providers to respond effectively to the urgent threat posed by climate change:

  • Use every drop: cutting down on losses within city water networks to help cope with water scarcity
  • Protect the infrastructure: improving the design and management of facilities to enable them to withstand flooding and storms
  • Strengthen systems: clarifying and enforcing responsibilities for delivering services to the poorest and ensuring that climate risks are reflected in regulations, standards and financing frameworks
  • Integrate with wider city resilience: increasing coordination between improvements to water and sanitation services and other areas of urban development.

“Access to safe water and sanitation services is essential for people to lead healthy, productive lives,” said Neil Jeffery, Chief Executive of WSUP.

“Climate change is already causing significant damage to the ability of cities to provide equitable access to water and sanitation services, and these impacts will only worsen in coming years.”

“And yet, expansion and protection of water and sanitation services is not a core part of most cities’ adaptation work. This needs to change.”

Download the report

Want to find out more? In the coming weeks we will be delving into the report’s recommendations at