Water and Climate Leaders

Who we are

 The Water and Climate Leaders are a panel of eminent representatives of UN Members, civil society, and the private sector. Invited by WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas and UN Water Chair Gilbert Houngbo, the Water and Climate Leaders aim 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 provides 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.

Water and Climate Leaders Panel

Quotes from Water and Climate Leaders

Emomalij Rahmon, President, Tajikistan-01

"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."

H.E Mr Emomali Rahmon
President, Republic of Tajikistan

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

H.E. Mr. János Áder
Former President of Hungary

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.

H.E. Mrs. Hilda Heine
Former President Republic of the Marshall Islands
Komi Sélom Klassou, Past Prime Minister, Togo-01

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. Komi Sélom Klassou
Professor, Former Prime Minister Republic of Togo

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.

Mr. Han Seung-soo
Former Prime Minister Republic of Korea

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.

Mrs. Hannele Pokka Professor
Former Minister Republic of Finland
Gilbert F. Houngbo, Chairman, UN-Water & President, IFAD-01

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. Gilbert Houngbo
Chair UN-Water; President IFAD
Petteri Taalas

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.

Mr. Petteri Taalas
Secretary General of WMO

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.

Ms. Mari Elka Pangestu
Managing Director Development Policy and Partnerships World Bank
Howard Bamsey, Chair, Global Water Partnership (GWP)-01

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. Howard Bamsey
Former Chair of GWP
Matthias Berninger, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs and 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.

Mr. Matthias Berninger
SVP Public Affairs & Sustainability BAYER
Lindsey Aldaco-Manner, Former President, World Youth Parliament for Water (WYPW)-01

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

Mrs. Lindsey Blodgétt
Former President World Youth Parliament for Water
Matthias Berninger, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs and Sustainability, Bayer

Matthias Berninger

Matthias Berninger (born 1971) is a former German politician and member of The Greens from 1993 until 2007.
From 2001 to 2005, Berninger served as Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection under minister Renate Künast in the second cabinet of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. After leaving the government, he was his parliamentary group’s spokesperson on economic policy from 2005 until 2007.
Since 2019, Berninger has been serving as head of public and government affairs at Bayer.