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Water & Sanitation: What Is a ‘WOP’ and How Does It Help to Tackle Climate Crisis?

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The current COVID-19 pandemic has showcased the critical role of water service providers in our societies. It has also shown how challenging, yet important, it is to maintain operations in an uninterrupted manner, reaching all residents, including those previously unserved. When faced with the crisis, utilities had to adapt comprehensively and quickly to a new scenario, in some cases within a matter of hours.

Collaboration through Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs) are helping water utilities face the COVID-19 crisis and are a cost-effective way to not only share experiences, but to strengthen long-term capacity and improve service delivery.

The climate emergency, though different in nature, is already resulting in huge economic, social and environmental damage and is testing the resilience of water utilities who are increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events, droughts and other short- and long-term shocks and stresses. The COVID-19 crisis has yielded experiences and lessons that can help water operators find ways to adapt to the long-term consequences and become better prepared in the case of disasters.

The session discusses the implications of the climate crisis on water utilities in cities around the world and how, drawing on the experiences from the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises, utilities can strengthen their preparedness and adapt to the climate crisis using a WOPs approach. The session also provides technical resources and offer opportunities for engaging with the GWOPA network, city and utility leaders and development partners, especially in the upcoming WOPs program supported by the European Commission.


  • Andre Dzikus, Chief, Urban Basic Services Section, UN-Habitat


  • Anne Bousquet, Programme Officer, GWOPA Secretariat, UN-Habitat


  • Claudia Wendland, Dr.-Ing., Infrastrukturkoordination und Stadthydrologie, Hamburg Wasser, Germany


  • Paula Kefoe, Director of Water Resources, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, USA
  • Faruk İşgenç, Head of Wastewater Treatment Department, General Directorate of İzmir Water and Wastewater (IZSU), İzmir, Turkey
  • Ignatius Jean, Executive Director of the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association, St. Lucia
  • Lawrence Kimaru, Nakuru County Sanitation Programme, Kenya
  • Anke Verheij, Programme Coordinator, WaterWorX