The 2023 UN Water Conference – Uniting the World for Water

March 24, 2023
group photo UN water conference

Image: GRIC Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, WRRC Director Sharon B. Megdal, CRIT Farm Manager Josh Moore, Universidad de Sonora Professor Elia Tapia, UArizona Professor and Udall Center Director Andrea K. Gerlak, CRIT Chairwoman Amelia Flores

This week in New York, the United Nations held their first UN Water Conference since 1977. The main outcomes of the conference will include a summary of its proceedings and the Water Action Agenda — a “collection of all water-related voluntary commitments to accelerate progress” towards the Sustainable Development Goals set out in the Water Action Agenda as part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) — Clean Water and Sanitation — is a worldwide commitment to achieving universal access to safely managed water and sanitation by 2030. According to UN World Water Day 2023 resources, the latest estimates show that “governments must work on average four times faster” to meet SDG 6 on schedule. The key building blocks of the Water Action Agenda are: 1) commitment to action, 2) sustained and scalable implementation, and 3) follow-up and review processes. The Water Action Agenda seeks to “mobilize action across countries, sectors and stakeholders to meet the global water and sanitation related goals and targets.” Voluntary commitments will continue to be added to the Water Action agenda through the end of the Water Action Decade via the Be the Change campaign organized by UN Water.

In addition to the events of the UN Water Conference, the UN also published the 2023 World Water Development Report on March 22. Produced by the UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme, this report is published annually on World Water Day to provide a comprehensive assessment of the “overall state, use, and management of the worlds freshwater resources” and provide tools for sustainable water management. This year’s report focuses on partnerships and cooperation in water management and development and their role in achieving progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 6.

A delegation from the University of Arizona attended the UN Water Conference, including WRRC Director Sharon B. Megdal, and participated in a range of conference and World Water Day related activities. Director Megdal published a Reflections essay in celebration of World Water Day, commenting on the happenings in New York. On Tuesday, March 28, the WRRC will hold a special event reflecting on the UN 2023 Water Conference. Join UArizona delegates Professor Andrea K. Gerlak, WRRC Director Sharon B. Megdal, and graduate student Wilzave Quiles Guzmán for this special webinar discussion.