Preparations for the UN 2023 Water Conference, which will focus on reviewing implementation of the objectives of the 2018-2028 International Water Decade and help “create a consistent drumbeat” to raise attention to water, were central to the discussions at the 36th UN-Water Meeting. Among other issues, participants addressed ways to scale up country-level support and disseminate results from case studies in the context of the Global Acceleration Framework for SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation).
According to the UN-Water Briefing Note by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB), the upcoming UN 2023 Water Conference, to be held at UN Headquarters in New York, US, in March 2023, will offer a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to catalyze action and build partnerships to achieve international water goals, including SDG 6 and its targets.
Addressing participants during an information session on the UN 2023 Water Conference, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General for the UN 2023 Water Conference, Liu Zhenmin, reviewed proposals for the event’s themes, noting that most of them fall into one of five clusters: 1) water, climate, and disaster risk reduction (DRR); 2) water and peace and security; 3) water for agriculture and food security; 4) nature and water quality; and 5) universal access to water and sanitation.
The Netherlands and Tajikistan – the co-hosts of the UN 2023 Water Conference – confirmed that the event’s modalities will involve:
- six plenaries during which Member States will have space to make their statements;
- five dialogues, the themes for which will be agreed later in 2022;
- three to five special events;
- side events; and
- cultural elements such as exhibitions and marathons that will lead to a global focus on water during the week of the meeting.
The co-hosts emphasized that the conference should focus on partnerships that will “work beyond the March 2023 event,” and noted that water is “both a dealbreaker for achieving the internationally agreed water-related goals and targets as well as an opportunity and dealmaker, through which a green economy can be leveraged, and a more sustainable and inclusive world achieved.”
Throughout the meeting some participants emphasized that “water is not a sector,” stressing that water as an underpinning theme should be strengthened across all sectors. At the same time, as the ENB notes, “many lamented the fragmentation of water governance across organizations, processes, and sectors.” A suggested way forward was to view fragmentation as an “opportunity to reinforce messages across sectors” and to use water as a “mode to build bridges, for instance with the climate adaptation agenda.”
The 36th UN-Water Meeting took place in person, after two years of online sessions, convening in Geneva, Switzerland, from 7-8 April 2022. [ENB UN-Water Briefing Note] [ENB Coverage of 36th UN-Water Meeting]