In March 2023, the long-awaited United Nations Water Conference will take place, 46 years after the first. From it will come to a roadmap and a schedule to ensure that humanity reaches 2030 with the human right to water and sanitation fulfilled for all.
Water Conference 2023
The United Nations Conference on Water is finally going to be held, from March 22 to 24 in New York, 46 years after the first one took place, in March 1977 in Mar del Plata (Argentina). It has taken almost half a century for the UN to dedicate a new top-level monographic conference to the liquid element, coinciding with the middle of the Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028).
“The 2023 Water Conference marks a critical moment for global water policy and is an opportunity not to be missed. After 46 years since the last one, we need a conference that can provide high-impact solutions and promote tangible change,” the UN said last World Water Day. A real change is awaited by the 2.2 billion people who still do not have access to drinking water and the 4.2 billion who live without adequate sanitation.
The international organization hopes that this event, which will coincide with World Water Day 2023, will take stock of the results of the middle of the Decade of Action and establish a specific roadmap and schedule for humanity to reach 2030 with the right access to water and guaranteed sanitation for all. And for this, they warn that “a high-level ambition is necessary in the coming months prior to the 2023 conference to promote action and place water at the center of the global agenda and the achievement of the SDGs”.
In the first quarter of this year, this ambition has been reflected in a global stakeholder consultation to collect views, experiences and proposals from organizations around the world on possible topics of dialogue to be established at the Conference. of the Water of 2023.
The United Nations has just published the results of this global consultation, which has received a total of 146 contributions. Interest groups (business and industry, scientists, experts, NGOs, indigenous peoples and youth) proposed that the interactive dialogues of the 2023 conference consider specific and cross-sectoral issues, related to the three dimensions of sustainable development (social, economic and environmental). ).
From gender equality in access to water, cross-border cooperation or education, to investments in infrastructure, reuse or improvement of water quality, interest groups have drawn a faithful portrait of the main water challenges of the planet.
The dangers are real
Meanwhile, as governments prepare for the upcoming UN climate conference (COP 27) in November and the 2023 UN-Water Conference, the UNECE painted a potentially bleak picture moving forward in parts of Europe.
From damage to water supply and sewage infrastructure to water quality degradation and sewage spillage, the impacts are already being felt.
For example, increased energy demand and treatment plant outages in Hungary threaten significant additional operating costs for wastewater treatment.
And the challenges of ensuring an adequate water supply in the Netherlands have increased, while Spain struggles to maintain a minimum supply of drinking water during periods of drought.
There will be different appointments ahead of the long-awaited United Nations Conference on Water in 2023 in which various issues will be discussed and negotiated to reach next March with the homework done. The most important meeting, without a doubt, will be COP27, between November 7 and 18, 2022.
The UN already announced last World Water Day that it intends this resource to be one of the central themes of this world event, not as has happened in previous editions. « Water will be the protagonist in the context of COP27. The links between the water agenda and the climate are clear and we must face both the challenges of its scarcity and the extreme phenomena that cause water-related disasters”, concluded António Guterres at his year-long celebration event held last World Day.
The United Nations does not forget to unite SDGs 6 and 17, highlighting that “alliances between interest groups must be improved. Only through combined efforts can we achieve the water agenda. We have to strengthen the dialogue with other sectors and find common levers to accelerate progress. Business, civil society, academia and all stakeholders must play an active role in the preparatory process and in the conference itself », he concludes.
The planet needs urgent action to protect the increasingly scarce element that gives it life. Hopefully this long-awaited conference in 2023 will ensure that in the near future the human rights to water are protected, promoted and ultimately fulfilled.