Water and Climate Leaders

Invited by WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas and UN Water Chair Gilbert Houngbo, the “Water and Climate Leaders” aims to set and pursue an integrated global Water and Climate Agenda in support of sustainable development and national mitigation and adaptation actions. Their focus is on catalyzing action through leadership and example.

The Panel will provide strategic guidance on integrating the water and climate agendas, as well as maximizing synergies in designing and implementing actions to achieve SDGs 6 and 13, alongside ensuring effective climate action for adaptation and resilience.
The “Water and Climate Leaders” are a panel of eminent representatives of UN Members, civil society, and the private sector.



Mr. Emomali Rahmon

President, Republic of Tajikistan

“Our glaciers are melting rapidly and to date more than 1,000 of Tajikistan’s 14,000 glaciers have completely melted. Over the past few decades, the total volume of glaciers in our country, which make up more than 60 percent of the water resources in the Central Asian region, has decreased by almost a third."



Mr. János Áder

President, Hungary

“Without good data, climate and water policies are only empty words. Effective action requires knowledge, knowledge requires information, information requires data."



Mrs. Hilda Heine

Past President, Republic of the Marshall Islands

"Small size, fragility, natural vulnerability and limited resources all contribute to water, sanitation and hygiene challenges in many parts of the Pacific region. The reliance on rain for safe drinking water is further impacted by frequent droughts brought on by climate change. The increased salinity of underground well water reserves, brought on by sea level rise, further threatens island livelihoods, including plant growth and food security production. The Water and Climate Leaders Panel has an important role to play, to catalyze action through coordinated and transformational leadership in pursuit of an integrated Water and Climate Agenda necessary to support the sustainable development goals."



Mr. Komi Sélom Klassou

Past Prime Minister,
Republic of Togo

"The extensive degradation of the climate continues to seriously affect the availability of water resources in Africa, both in terms of quantity and quality. So, together, let's review our lifestyles in order to preserve the couple Climate-Water and promote inclusive sustainable development.”



Mr. Han Seung-soo

Past Prime Minister, Republic of Korea

“Water is life but it can also be a threat to life. The post-COVID-19 society should be made more resilient in all disturbances and emergencies such as water-related disasters, climate change and pandemic. Toward this end, water should play the central role in building back the post-corona society better. It is about time that the UN seriously considers the establishment of Intergovernmental Committee on Water in order to more scientifically approach the issue of water on which the humanity so critically depends.”



Dr. Mohamed Abdel Aty

Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Egypt

"Climate Change is a reality; our deltas are susceptible to inundation, putting our people at a stake of resettlement, social unrest, and consequently increase of migration rates; these risks are coupled by severe aridity and extreme events. There is an urgent need to adapt to these challenges also maintaining the right to water and ensuring water flows required for food security and for preserving ecosystems from degradation."



Mr. Carl-Hermann Gustav Schlettwein

President AMCOW; Minister, Republic of Namibia



Ms. Barbara Visser

Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Kingdom of the Netherlands

“Climate change is happening now and is jeopardizing peace, security, biodiversity and global sustainable development. Water is key to achieving real change and to reaching the goals of the 2030 Agenda. Let’s scale up and accelerate action in the field of governance, financing, data and information, capacity building and innovation to turn the tide and to secure a sustainable future, leaving no one behind.”



Mr Abdelkébir Zahoud

Past State Secretary for Water and Environment, Kingdom of Morocco



Mrs. Hannele Pokka

Professor; Past Minister, Republic of Finland

"Even reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement and successfully limiting global warming to 1,5 degrees in the longer term will not eliminate the impacts of climate change on vulnerable countries and communities or immediately stop Arctic warming. In addition to rapid emission reduction measures, wide-ranging adaptation efforts will be needed, also in the water sector."



Mr. Gilbert F. Houngbo

Chair UN-Water; President IFAD

“Making development sustainable, responding to climate change, and reducing the risk of disasters – all are about managing water more effectively. That’s why, under the umbrella of the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework, the work of the high-level Water and Climate Leaders panel to bring about an integrated global water and climate agenda is so urgent.”



Mr. Petteri Taalas

Secretary General WMO

“Increasing temperatures are resulting in global and regional precipitation changes, leading to shifts in rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, with a major impact on food security and human health and well-being.”



Mrs. Mari Elka Pangestu

World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships

“This Coalition seeks to build leadership and action to address critical gaps in data that relate to water. Information about water quantity, quality, distribution, access risks, and use is essential for effective decision-making. We can’t manage what we can’t measure. The World Bank proud to be a part of this coalition to bring lasting change and build foundations for smart water management solutions.”



Mr. Howard Bamsey

Chair Global Water Partnership

”Collaborative change processes are critical for shaping effective climate action, including stimulating investment in water as a solution for climate mitigation and adaptation, often providing benefits in both areas simultaneously. There is a great need for developing and adopting financing principles to underpin a new water investment rationale, based on actionable data and an understanding of societal co-benefits of water solutions for climate.”



Mr. Matthias Berninger

SVP Public Affairs & Sustainability BAYER

“The most significant global challenges are linked to water: climate change, biodiversity loss, food security. Moreover, the lack of access to safe drinking water leads to severe health effects. Almost 1 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related diseases. With impact on nutrition and health, the water crisis is also hugely relevant for companies like Bayer, active in these fields. I work for the water and climate coalition because I am deeply convinced that we need strong partnerships to tackle the water crisis. Individually we can make an impact, but together we can change the world.”



Mrs. Lindsey Blodgétt

World Youth Parliament for Water

“Nearly 40% of the world’s population is considered as youth. At any conference proceeding, political dialogue, and decision to be made around our most precious asset, the voice of youth MATTERS. It is therefore of vital importance to ensure that the input and voices of youth are well accounted for.”

Tangible Outcomes

Global water
observing system
Financing rationale to take into account societal benefit in water & climate development
Cooperation frameworks for assessing and sharing benefits of river basin scale adaptation activities
Unified mechanism for integrated climate and water stocktake
International mechanism to monitor and address water loss from melting cryosphere

Overview of the Leaders Milestones



Cooperation frameworks for assessing and sharing benefits of joint adaptation at river basins scale presented in 2022


Concept for global water observing system agreed on 2023 conference


Global mechanism for financing the preservation glaciers 



Mechanism supports measuring and sharing benefits of regional adaptation 


Cooperation frameworks for assessing and sharing benefits of joint adaptation at river basins scale presented in 2022


Mechanism for integrated water and climate stocktake presented in 2023


Concept for financing integrated water and climate action presented at 2023 conference


Year of preservation of glaciers

Advisors Group

The Advisors are experts appointed by the members of the Panel to support the “Water and Climate Leaders”.

The Advisors support the Coalition and provide information for the Panel Members to advocate for urgent climate and water related action. They also serve as the custodians of the Matrix of action of the Coalition. They create impact through:





Taking stock of the work of the Coalition and its progress quarterly
Informing the Leaders of the Coalition`s progress regularly in preparation for the different international platforms showcasing water and climate events like World Water Fora, World Water Weeks, COPs, etc
Guiding the Coalition to develop an effective matrix of action including priority action areas, based on feedback from the “Water and Climate Leaders”
Advising the “Water and Climate Leaders” on priority investment needs

Minutes of the Meetings