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Interview: The climate and water city networking opportunity


‘We believe networks are a great tool for cities to advance their climate agenda,’ says Ricardo Cepeda-Márquez of C40, the global network of leading cities committed to addressing climate change.

C40 works across a wide range of programme areas and is planning to expand its water activity. Cepeda-Márquez, who heads its Water and Waste Initiative, is representing C40 as a member of this year’s Amsterdam International Water Week Programme Advisory Committee.

Cepeda-Márquez says there are a number of reasons why C40 values the network approach. ‘For example, cities are able to learn from each other, but networks are also a tool for them to measure themselves against how their peers are doing. They are also designed to inspire innovation by showcasing the ideas and solutions of what other cities are doing.’

C40 currently supports 17 networks, three of which already relate to water. ‘C40 has historically addressed the water subject from the adaptation perspective,’ says Cepeda-Márquez. Its existing Adaptation Initiative focuses on hazards and adaptation issues around water, covering climate risk assessment, delta cities, and the urban heat island effect.

“We need to address the mitigation and sustainability opportunities of water management.”

‘We also need to address the mitigation and sustainability opportunities of water management,’ says Cepeda-Márquez. His area of waste is being expanded into a resources management initiative, and the new water networks will be part of this initiative. ‘We have been changing the narrative of how cities have an opportunity to improve their resources management,’ he says.

Two new networks have been approved by C40’s board, for which funding is now being sought. One is to be a network on urban water management. This will include a focus on avoiding water scarcity, improving water security, and increasing water efficiency, particularly because of the connections with energy. ‘There is a significant opportunity to reduce energy utilisation, and as a consequence the greenhouse gas impact of water supply and distribution,’ notes Cepeda-Márquez.

‘The second network we intend to deploy is going to be focused on wastewater, because of the high urgency for addressing methane emissions from the wastewater sector as a climate pollutant, says Cepeda-Márquez. Topics the network is expected to cover include energy efficiency, methane capture and utilisation, and food-water co-digestion.

With this expanded action on water approaching, Cepeda-Márquez is looking forward to Amsterdam International Water Week as an opportunity to build contacts in the water sector. ‘As a new player in this space, it is very important for us to assess the landscape and identify the right stakeholders to connect with. AIWW is a great opportunity for this,’ he says.

He is particularly keen to build links between the utility community and C40’s core membership of city governments. ‘This new initiative we are looking to implement will allow us to engage with the utility side, and we hope there is an opportunity to play a role connecting the issues that are urgent to both groups,’ he concludes.

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