Summary of the New York Water Conference

Konferencji Wodnej

On March 24, 2023. In New York, the Water Conference came to an end at the United Nations headquarters. The groundbreaking response to the global water crisis is optimistic. Governments, companies and the public have pledged to make a number of important changes, not only for the future of water, but also for the future of the world.

From March 22 to 24, 2023. Some 10,000 participants at the Conference discussed at UN headquarters and online to urgently step up efforts to solve the water crisis and ensure equal access to water for all. The conference, co-organized by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of Tajikistan, brought together world leaders, civil society, business leaders, scientists, academics, the UN and others from various sectors – agriculture, energy, environment and water – around a common goal. It is to urgently resolve the crisis and put the world on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6-Clean water and sanitation by 2030.

Access to water, sanitation and hygiene is a basic human need for health and well-being and a declared human right. However, some 2 billion people worldwide still do not have sufficient access to drinking water, and 40% of the world’s population suffers from water shortages. Agriculture alone accounts for about 70% of water consumption. Moreover, more than 90% of disasters are water-related, and climate change is hitting this resource hardest. Humanity’s demand for water is growing, and the pressure is expected to increase by more than 40% by 2050.

In this context, the topics covered at the Conference ranged from the water crisis, including its role in forced migration, climate change and conflict, to highlighting the link between water and good health, poverty reduction and food security. Possible solutions were also considered, and attention was drawn to the need for more effective data collection, the implementation of improved management systems, and the need to develop financing for the water sector.

During the closing ceremony of the Conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed his remarks to a packed room, thanking everyone for their involvement in #WaterAction. He noted that the commitments made at the meeting will push humanity toward a future that is secure in terms of access to water, which every person on the planet needs. He stressed that water is for health, peace, sustainable development and therefore must be at the center of the global political agenda.

The secretary also highlighted key game-changers: from strengthening the role of water as a fundamental human right and reducing pressure on the hydrological system, to developing new alternative systems to reduce unsustainable water use in food production and agriculture, and designing and implementing by 2030. A new global water information system to guide plans and priorities.

Antonio Guterres also advocated an integrated approach to water, ecosystems and climate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen communities – from resilient infrastructure, water supply and wastewater treatment plans, to ensuring that every person in the world is protected through early warning systems against natural disasters. He also pressed for expanded action to curb the increase in global warming.

The Water Action Agenda, the document containing the outcomes of the Conference, includes more than 700 voluntary commitments from member states and stakeholders. They aim to stimulate the transformation of a world in water crisis to a water-secure world. The Agenda represents the global community’s bold and determined approach to water challenges through a more coordinated and results-oriented approach and remains open to registering more commitments. A number of other follow-up measures are also being considered, including the appointment of a special envoy for the water.

What commitments were made?

Plenary sessions of the UN Water Conference 2023 focused on the commitments of member states and other stakeholders. Poland was represented by Deputy Infrastructure Minister Marek Gróbarczyk, who, along with other participants, aimed to achieve the best possible results, as well as to ensure water security around the world.

Minister Marek Gróbarczyk spoke at the Conference’s plenary session on Thursday, March 23. Speaking at the UN, he announced a Polish voluntary commitment involving “Development, dissemination and implementation of advanced natural solutions based on transdisciplinary ecohydrology.”

The United States has pledged $49 billion in investments to support climate-resilient water and sanitation infrastructure and services.

Japan will actively contribute to solving the water-related social problems facing the Asia-Pacific region by developing high-quality infrastructure and providing financial assistance of about 500 billion yen ($3.65 billion) over the next five years.

Vietnam has pledged to develop a policy to manage major river basins by 2025. and ensure that all households have access to clean, running water by 2030.

Switzerland has made 5 pledges, pledging to contribute to the work of the UN, including in the areas of the Water Convention and transboundary cooperation. This country is co-chair of the Interactive Dialogue on Water for Cooperation.

The Niger Basin Authority (NBA) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) have jointly committed $21.2 million to a project that will strengthen the NBA and its member states.

The Mozambican government has pledged to take all necessary steps to accelerate the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG) by 2030, investing $9.5 billion.

The African Union Commission, through the Continental Africa Investment Program (AIP), aims to close the water investment gap in Africa. It plans to mobilize at least $30 billion a year by 2030. through a number of initiatives, including the International High-Level Panel on the Status of Women. Water Investments for Africa.

By 2030. The EU intends to support access for 70 million people to an improved source of drinking water and/or sanitation. It will also assist member states with €20 million to speed up the implementation of COVID-19 wastewater surveillance.

More than 50 leading global companies will collaborate on SDG 6.

Multilateral Banks

The Asian Development Bank is pledging to invest $11 billion in the water sector in the Asia-Pacific region and another $100 billion in the field worldwide by 2030.

Private sector

Starbucks, Ecolab, Gap Inc., Reckitt and DuPont have joined forces with the U.S. government to invest nearly $140 million in the Water Access Fund to provide access to water, sanitation and hygiene to 5 million people.

DANONE is launching a water acceleration fund to provide daily access to water for 30 million people in need.

Xylem and 16 other companies are spending $11 billion on research and development.

World Vision has pledged to raise and invest $2 billion to expand the impact of its groundbreaking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in 50 countries across six regions of the world.

All commitments have been published.

Photo source: Ministry of Infrastructure

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