Today marks World Water Day 2023, a day of reflection and action on the critical importance of water in our lives. The theme for this year’s World Water Day is “Accelerating Change”, which emphasizes the need to solve the water and sanitation crisis. The dysfunction of the water cycle at any point can hinder progress on a broad range of critical global issues, such as health, hunger, gender equality, job creation, education, industry, disaster management, and peacebuilding.
Water is essential for life, yet it is often taken for granted. But the reality is that water is a finite resource, and as the world’s population continues to grow, so does the demand for water.
This demand is putting a strain on our water resources, and it is time to recognize the true value of water and ensure that we use it wisely and sustainably.
One of the biggest challenges we face is the unequal distribution of water resources around the world. While some regions have an abundance of water, others are struggling with water scarcity. This imbalance is exacerbated by climate change, which is causing more frequent and severe droughts in many parts of the world.
To address this challenge, we need to work together to ensure that everyone has access to safe and reliable water. This means investing in water infrastructure, improving water governance, and promoting water conservation and efficiency.
But valuing water also means recognizing its role in ecosystems and the services they provide. Wetlands, rivers, and oceans all play a crucial role in regulating our planet’s climate, supporting biodiversity, and providing food and livelihoods for millions of people.
It is time to take action to protect these vital ecosystems and the services they provide. This means reducing pollution, protecting and restoring wetlands and other critical habitats, and promoting sustainable fishing practices.
The UN Water Conference 2023
At the upcoming UN 2023 Water Conference, the first UN Conference that focuses on the water since 1977, the international community will launch the Water Action Agenda, a comprehensive plan to address the global water crisis. This will be the first event of its kind in nearly 50 years and provides a critical opportunity to prioritize water as a key issue in the international development agenda.
As Antonio Gutierrez, Secretary-General of the UN, has stated “The UN 2023 Water Conference in March must result in a bold Water Action Agenda that gives our world’s lifeblood the commitment it deserves.”
The goal is to expedite efforts towards water-related actions, not only to attain Sustainable Development Goal 6, which pertains to water and sanitation, but also to meet the objectives of other frameworks, including the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework, and Our Common Agenda.
The UN 2023 Water Conference has a primary objective of raising awareness about the worldwide water crisis and fostering a collective effort to achieve internationally agreed-upon water-related goals and targets, as outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Given that progress in achieving Goal 6 (water and sanitation) is critical to achieving other SDGs, such as health, food security, gender equality, education, livelihoods, industry, climate action, and environmental protection, the conference aims to be inclusive and cross-sectoral. By adopting the Water Action Agenda as a principal outcome, which reflects the commitments of nations and stakeholders, the conference will mobilize action across countries, sectors, and stakeholders to achieve global water-related goals and targets.
The thematic areas of the Conference
The UN 2023 Water Conference’s five themes were initially suggested by The Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of Tajikistan, the conference co-hosts, in July 2022. These themes were subsequently approved by Member States during the Preparatory Meeting held in October 2022. The conference themes align with the five principles of the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework.
- Water for Health: Access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene
- Water for Sustainable Development: Valuing Water, Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Sustainable Economic and Urban Development
- Water for Climate, Resilience and Environment: Source to Sea, Biodiversity, Climate, Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction
- Water for Cooperation: Transboundary and International Water Cooperation, Cross-Sectoral Cooperation and Water Across the 2030 Agenda
- Water Action Decade: Accelerating the implementation of the objectives of the Decade, including through the UN Secretary-General’s Action Plan
To ensure the success of the Water Action Agenda, it will be essential for governments, civil society, the private sector, and other stakeholders to work together. This will require a shared commitment to valuing water and recognizing its critical role in achieving sustainable development.
The launch of the Water Action Agenda represents a major milestone in the global effort to address the water crisis. By taking bold and coordinated action, we can ensure that everyone has access to safe and reliable water and that our planet’s ecosystems are protected and preserved for generations to come. On this World Water Day, let us all commit to supporting the Water Action Agenda and working towards a sustainable water future for all.