Opportunities for sustainable sanitation in climate action
Sustainable Sanitation is highly relevant for the achievement of three international frameworks: The Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework and the 2030 Agenda. A sustainable future is impossible without universal access to safe, well-functioning and context-appropriate sanitation services. Until this is achieved, sanitation shortfalls will increase the risks human populations face from climate change and climate-related disasters. Climate change also has a negative impact on water availability and quality as well as on sanitation infrastructure making resilience of sanitation systems a top priority. A combination of technical measures such as resource-efficient systems and flood-proof sanitation with improved planning, capacity building and increased awareness offers best possibilities of adapting to climate-related hazards. Investments in sustainable sanitation can not only minimize these risks but also make substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and provide additional cobenefits through water and energy efficiency measures, replacing synthetic
fertilizers as well as avoiding methane emissions. The use of renewable energy from sustainable sanitation systems in form of biogas, hydropower, heat recovery or directly from excreta offers additional mitigation potential. Several tools are available to strengthen climate assessment, adaptation planning and to identify mitigation measures. Despite this, sanitation has been largely overlooked in climate mitigation and adaptation strategies – and in the disbursement of finance for climate action and disaster risk reduction. That is why a joint effort is needed to draw the attention of decision makers to sustainable sanitation and its importance for climate mitigation and adaptation.