Themes Set for UN 2023 Water Conference
UN Member States have finalized the selection of the themes for the interactive dialogues that will take place during the UN 2023 Water Conference. The themes were finalized along with other outstanding organizational matters during a preparatory meeting organized by the President of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Csaba Kőrösi.
The UN 2023 Water Conference will take place in March 2023. Participants highlighted that this Conference offers a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to mobilize actors and generate action and partnerships.
The five interactive dialogues will be organized around the five accelerators of SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework – Financing, Data and Information, Capacity Development, Innovation, and Governance. The Conference will aim to inspire action-oriented commitments by stakeholders at all levels. These commitments will comprise the “Water Action Agenda” – a platform for voluntary commitments and new and innovative approaches.
In her welcoming remarks during the one-day Preparatory Meeting, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed highlighted that water is essential for the delivery of the SDGs, while noting that a water crisis is poised to become our next major threat. She stressed the need for an inclusive agenda and encouraged delegates to act with a sense of urgency.
Co-host of the UN 2023 Water Conference Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan, stressed the need for a new approach to address water challenges and noted the historic opportunity presented by the March 2023 Conference. Co-host of the UN 2023 Water Conference Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, highlighted the importance of the Preparatory Meeting and stressed the need for UN Member States and others to bring their commitments for action, policy changes, and finances to the Water Action Agenda.
Chair of UN-Water Gilbert Houngbo, International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General, said the UN 2023 Water Conference should mark a turning point and stressed that inclusive approaches will be essential for generating support and new ideas.
Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary of the Conference, highlighted that the main objective of the Preparatory Meeting was to adopt the themes of the five Interactive Dialogues of the UN 2023 Water Conference.
Following a morning discussion, the following themes were adopted:
- Water for Health: Access to WASH, including the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation;
- Water for Sustainable Development: Valuing Water, Water-Energy-Food Nexus, and Sustainable Economic and Urban Development;
- Water for Climate, Resilience, and Environment: Source to Sea, Biodiversity, Climate, Resilience, and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR);
- Water for Cooperation: Transboundary and International Water Cooperation, Cross Sectoral Cooperation, including Scientific Cooperation, and Water Across the 2030 Agenda; and
- Water Action Decade: Accelerating the Implementation of the Objectives of the Decade, including through the UN Secretary-General’s Action Plan.
The Preparatory Meeting took place on 25 October 2022, at UN Headquarters in New York, US.
Immediately prior to the Preparatory Meeting, approximately 1,200 stakeholders participated in the Stakeholder Dialogue of the Preparatory Meeting for the UN 2023 Water Conference. This one-day event was organized to ensure that stakeholders would have meaningful input to the Preparatory Meeting. It took place online and in person at UN Headquarters on 24 October 2022.
Discussions focused on the catalyzers of the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework. UNGA President Csaba Kőrösi encouraged participants to discuss “game changers” from the perspective of “solidarity, sustainability, and science,” which is the motto of the 77th session of the UNGA.
The ideas stakeholders identified during roundtable discussions included the following:
- On Capacity Development: inclusive education and capacity development through a global system of water training centers and networks;
- On Governance: support for water, climate, food, and related policy integration at national and regional level;
- On Data and Information: an open global water information system and platform that integrates physical and societal data relevant for SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) to ensure actionable information is freely accessible, consistent, comparable, and interoperable at scale and supports preparedness and resilience;
- On Financing: reframe economic cost of water crisis and cost of inaction to invest in water yield dividends; and
- On Innovation: empower relevant stakeholders to participate in innovations.