UN 2023 Water Conference ends with over 700 commitments to make world water-secure

The event was attended by 10,000 participants at the UN headquarter and online, a statment claimed

By Zumbish
Published: Sunday 26 March 2023
UN 2023 Water Conference ends with over 700 commitments to make world water-secure
Serigne Mbaye Thiam, the Senegalese minister for water and sanitation. Photo: UN Serigne Mbaye Thiam, the Senegalese minister for water and sanitation. Photo: UN

Over 700 commitments were made at the United Nations 2023 Water Conference in New York City to make the world water-secure, according to a statement. The three-day summit ended on March 24, 2023.

“The commitments at this Conference will propel humanity towards the water-secure future every person on the planet needs,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated during the closing ceremony.

The commitments were captured in the Water Action Agenda, the key outcome of the Conference. They were made by countries in Asia and the Pacific, Europe, North America and Africa.

For instance, the US announced a commitment of up to $49 billion in investments to support climate resilient water and sanitation infrastructure and services.

Japan announced that it will proactively contribute to the solution of water-related social issues faced by the Asia-Pacific region by developing “quality Infrastructure”, providing financial assistance worth approximately 500 billion yen ($3.65 billion) over the next five years.

Another Asian nation, Vietnam, pledged to develop policies for major river basins management by 2025 and to ensure all households would have access to clean running water by 2030.

African heads of state took a lead at the event by announcing presidential compacts or commitments.

The Government of Mozambique, for instance, committed to taking all necessary steps to accelerate achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 by 2030 with investments of $9.5 billion. SDG 6 deals with Clean Water and Sanitation.

The Niger Basin Authority (NBA) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection made a joint commitment of $21.2 million in funding for a project that strengthens the NBA and its member countries.

The African Union Commission, along with the Continental Africa Investment Programme (AIP), aims to close Africa’s water investments gap by mobilising at least $30 billion per year by 2030 through a range of initiatives.

In Europe, the EU aims to support the access of 70 million individuals to an improved drinking water source and/or sanitation facility by 2030.

The bloc will also support Member States with €20 million in funding to accelerate the deployment of wastewater surveillance for COVID-19.

Switzerland, a non-EU nation, submitted five commitments to contribute to the UN’s work, including in the areas of the Water Convention and transboundary cooperation.

Over 50 leading global companies also united to make collective commitment to SDG 6 at the meet.

Guterres also advocated for integrating the approach on water, ecosystems and climate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen communities in his speech. He stressed on climate justice and global action to limit global warming to a 1.5-degree rise.

Lastly, he called for a dramatic acceleration in resources and investment into the ability of all countries to reach SDG 6.

Last Day

The last day of the Conference witnessed the fifth and sixth plenary meetings, which began with continued discussion on the interactive dialogue of ‘Water for Sustainable Development’, 2018–2028.

The two plenary meetings also focused on two more interactive dialogues: ‘Water for Cooperation’ and ‘Water Action Decade’. The three-day conference featured an opening and closing ceremony, six plenary meetings and five multi-stakeholder interactive dialogues.   

On Day 3, Serigne Mbaye Thiam, the Senegalese minister for water and sanitation, emphasised on:

  • Strengthening river basin, lake and aquifer organisations
  • Need to step up scientific water cooperation
  • Creating a link between water and other sectors based on an integrated water resource management approach.

The deliberations on Day 3 also covered the urgency of the water crisis, its role in forced migration, climate change and conflicts and its critical link to good health. Dialogues around poverty reduction and food security were also included.

“At the 2023 United Nations Water Conference, a determined global community came together to make a difference not only for the future of water but for the future of the world. I hope the energy we experienced at this Conference will flow on to the SDG Summit in September,” Li Junhua, the conference secretary-general was quoted as saying at the end of the global event.

The event, formally known as the 2023 Conference for the Midterm Comprehensive Review of Implementation of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028), was attended by 10,000 participants gathered at UN Headquarters and online, the press statement claimed.

“The Conference brought together world leaders, civil society, business leaders, young people, scientists, academics, the UN System and others from across sectors like agriculture, energy, environment and water around a common goal….‘To urgently tackle the water crisis and set the world back on track to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 — On Clean Water and Sanitation’,” it said.

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