UN 2023 Water Conference
The UN Water Conference was held in New York from 22 to 24 March 2023. The Kingdom of the Netherlands organised the conference together with Tajikistan. It was the first UN water conference to be organised in nearly 50 years.
Our kingdom is inextricably linked with water. After all, the Netherlands’ history is characterised by the fight against water. Without ditches, canals, polders and dikes a large part of our country would be under water. We have a lot of knowledge and experience in the field of water management and feel a strong responsibility for this issue, at international as well as national level.
Water: too much, too little, too polluted
Almost every country in the world has problems with water, from flooding to extreme drought. Worldwide, 884 million people have no access to clean drinking water. Moreover, wastage, pollution and climate change are putting our water reserves under increasing pressure.
Water has a major impact on the livelihoods of millions of people, on food and energy security and on health and the environment. ‘Clean water and sanitation for everyone’ (SDG6) is one of the Sustainable Development Goals all countries in the world are aiming to achieve by 2030. But so far, globally, we’re falling behind on this goal, and we need to accelerate our global efforts.
Aim of the conference
The UN Water Conference’s objective was to contribute to achieving the internationally agreed goals on water, while accelerating the speed at which this is done. These goals include the objectives specified in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028). Individual countries’ specific activities and plans relating to water have been brought together in the Water Action Agenda, which will be incorporated into existing UN procedures and processes. This will allow us to ensure that the commitments are actually followed up.
The conference consisted of 6 plenary sessions and 5 interactive dialogues. Parallel to the 6 plenary sessions, 5 special events were being organised. The Netherlands and Tajikistan determined which subjects these focused on. The interactive dialogues and special events were being organised together with stakeholders. These stakeholders were also free to organise their own side-events at the conference.
Water is a resource with many shapes and forms, and by nature, it connects different environments, peoples, and sectors.
Water is irreplaceable for life to survive and thrive.
Water is a unifying and catalysing force.
It can be the dealmaker for creating a more sustainable world.
Water underpins all of our social and economic activity.
Without water, food production stops.
Cities cease to function.
Economic activity grinds to a halt.
And fertile land turns into a desert.
We have massive challenges in front of us and to steer the world in the right direction, we need to join forces and take action.
The UN 2023 Water Conference will be this moment.
Tajikistan and The Netherlands, as the co-hosts of the Conference, strive to make it a watershed moment for the world.
So let’s join our efforts, take commitments, and put actions on the ground to make this happen.
We have an important task.
To encourage all stakeholders.
To bring together all our pledges, promises, and commitments.
To make clear how the world will reach its water-related goals.
Many things were politically unclear at that time.
Young leaders should be given a leading role by their governments in order to be active in the next decade.
Water does not only pose a challenge.
It also presents us with a great opportunity.
We need to act and foster a fundamental shift in how we look at and manage water, more than ever.
Imagine what kind of world we can live in, if its leaders had just a fraction of the idealism that we share as young people.