Open for Climate Justice

My first introduction to the Journal of Water and Climate Change (JWCC) was in 2014, when I started as an active reviewer. JWCC is a hybrid and open access journal that publishes novel peer-reviewed research and practitioner papers on all aspects of water science, technology, management, and innovation in response to climate change. In 2020 I joined JWCC as editor focussing on water in urban planning under climate change, which has become one of the key areas of the journal. My role of Editor includes making policy decisions with the Editor-in-Chief and other Editors; peer review of submissions for publication in the journal; as well as encouraging high quality submissions to the journal. The work of our journal Editors, Reviewers and Authors, combined with IWA Publishing’s transition to Open Access, made a superb increase in the latest Impact Factor possible (2.803).

Climate change is primarily a water crisis. Nearly 90% of natural hazards are water related (4th UN World Water Development Report, 2012). Together with urbanization, water management and climate change are among the biggest issues in the world today. Particularly flooding and drought – and the frequency and intensity of such events are increasing. Climate change is set to impact availability of water through rainfall disruption, soil moisture, glacier, snow and ice melt and river, ground, and water flows. Urban areas specifically are not only vulnerable to floods and heavy rain, but often must deal with drought, heat, erosion, and subsidence of the soil as well. In connection with the decline of natural resources, the growing vulnerability of urban areas including vital and vulnerable infrastructure, gains more and more attention. Yet, it is the same water that brings life and is a driver for economic growth.

To ensure that water is integrated in planning and design in urban areas to provide increased resilience to climate change, liveability, efficiencies, and a sense of place for urban communities, IWA developed the principles for Water Wise Cities (IWA, 2016). The 17 principles are grouped into four levels of action: (1) Regenerative Water Services, (2) Water Sensitive Urban Design, (3) Basin Connected Cities, and (4) Water-Wise Communities.

JWCC offers a wide range of articles which contribute to the global climate change debate and offer water innovations and solutions. I’m also very pleased many contributions are about water and climate change research in developing countries, which positions will be in the spotlight during the upcoming COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Richer countries must do far more to help emerging nations cope with the destruction already wreaked by global heating. Climate justice must take a centre stage. This ties in with our Open Access Week theme, which is: "Open for Climate Justice". Related to this theme some 25+ articles have been published in JWCC, especially in recent years. To give you some examples. Govere et al. (2022) discusses the beneficial effect of climate change on wheat yield and water footprints in the Middle-Manyame sub-catchment, Zimbabwe. While Owuor and Mwiturubani (2022) explore correlation between flooding and settlement planning in Nairobi. Katekar et al. (2021) look specifically at the energy, drinking water and health nexus in India and its effects on environment and economy. And Nkhoma et al. (2021) describe the evaluation of integrated impacts of climate and land use change on the river flow regime in Wamkurumadzi River, Shire Basin in Malawi.

At the same time, developing countries don’t have to follow a similar transition pathway of developed countries did. Developing countries may even be at an advantage. Considering most cities in developing countries aren’t fitted with a sewer system or storm drainage, they have the potential to leapfrog towards greater water sensitivity and climate resiliency through the provision of multifunctional and multi-purpose water infrastructure (Dolman, 2020). Developing cities are (1) lacking extensive networks of infrastructure or institutions to rebuild like those in the developed world. (2) Sustainable practices can be incorporated into their present and upcoming economic and overall growth. (3) Shifting to investments in green energy, water reuse, resource recovery and nature conservation is more sustainably & viable than trying to quickly reach developed status through the traditional, degrading industrial practices. (4) Moreover, governments could include Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in the sustainable policies being created for their respective countries.

I hope you got a better idea of our wonderful journal on water and climate change. I’m happy to welcome your research and practitioner papers about the urgent issues in coping with water management and urbanization under climate change.

Nanco Dolman, editor for Journal of Water and Climate Change.

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