On 22-24 March, the United Nations headquarters in New York hosted a historic conference on freshwater. SIWI has played an active role to ensure that countries finally tackle the urgent water crisis and deliver on commitments already made. Learn more about our positions and analysis.

It is hard to overestimate the importance of the  UN 2023 Water Conference. Compared to the last such meeting in 1977, we now have a much better understanding of global water challenges, and the world has committed to solving many of them, for example through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015. But progress to achieve the agenda has stalled after the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are now getting more and more off track. 

SIWI is firmly committed to reversing this dangerous trend and has actively supported the UN 2023 Water Conference, including sending a delegation of experts to New York. 

We also took part in the New York Water Week, happening alongside the UN conference, and we contributed to the Water Action Agenda launched to accelerate necessary water actions.

Your guide to the UN 2023 Water Conference (white text and logo on dark blue background)

Get a quick overview of what the UN 2023 Water Conference is and what to expect.

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What happened in New York and online

SIWI took an active part in the conversation and amplify a broad range of water voices. See the list of sessions we were involved with:

With SIWI speaker

Indigenous Peoples Pre-Summit for United Nations Water Conference 

  • Date: Monday 20 March and Tuesday 21 March, 9am-5pm EDT 
  • Location: 221 East 52nd Street 
  • Convenors: International Indian Treaty Council, Aborigen Forum, Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee and Caribbean Network of Indigenous Tribal Peoples.
    Intergovernmental: Fondo para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas de América Latina y El Caribe (FILAC) 
  • SIWI presence: David Hebart-Coleman (tbc)


What’s Next for Water? What needs to happen after the UN 2023 Water Conference | New York Water Week event

World Water Day 2023: “Water for People and Cooperation Partnership | New York Water Week event

  • Date: Monday 20 March, 9am EDT
  • Location: online
  • Organized by International Water Resources Association
  • SIWI Speaker: Dani Gaillard
  • More information on IWRA website

With SIWI speakers

Bursting the water bubble: an event to mobilize multi-stakeholder action for water through an Earth System approach | New York Water Week event 

  • Date: Tuesday 21 March all day, 9am -5:30pm 
  • Location: World Economic Forum Offices 
  • SIWI speaker: Thomas Rebermark 

Interagency support for Indigenous Peoples Networking Event 

  • Date: Tuesday 21 March, 1-3pm EDT
  • Location: UNDP FF Building at 304 East 45th St 

Young Water and Sanitation Professionals – shaping the future

  • Date: Tuesday 21 March, 6-7:30pm EDT
  • Location: German House, 871 1st avenue
  • SIWI speaker: Karin Gardes

SIWI-led event

A new generation of urban climate solutions

  • Date: Wednesday 22 March, 3:00-4:30pm EDT
  • Location: : Swedish Representation, 1 Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza
    885 Second Avenue, 46th Floor
  • This side event to the UN 2023 Water Conference will showcase successful examples of improved urban water management from around the world. Drawing on new research, we will especially focus on solutions that make cities both water wise and climate smart.
    Read more about this event

With SIWI speakers

Indigenous Knowledge and Practices on Water Resource Management are key drivers for Water for Sustainable Development 

  • Date: Wednesday 22 March, 9:30-10:45 am EDT
  • Location: UNHQ, Room C 
  • Convenors “Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Oxfam Mekong Water Governance Program (MRWGP), Association of Artisanal Fishers South India, Sea Tribes, Indigenous Coastal Media, Network of Indigenous Women in Asia (NIWA), Indigenous Knowledge and Peoples of Asia (IKPA), Asia Indigenous Youth Platform (AIYP) 
  • SIWI Speaker: David Hebart-Coleman 

Source-to-sea approach: from methodology to practice (S2S) 

 Accelerating Women’s Inclusion in Water 

The Role of Indigenous People in Governing Shared Waters 

  • Date: Wednesday 22 March, 2:00-3:15 pm EDT 
  • Location: UNHQ HQ32
  • Convenors: Water & Tribes Initiative, Colorado River Basin, University of Arizona, TNC
  • SIWI speaker: Ruth Mathews

Elevating Critical Voices in Water Diplomacy: Featuring the Women in Water Diplomacy Networks

  • Date: Wednesday 22 March, 3:30-4:45 pm EDT
  • Location: Conference Room A
  • SIWI Speaker: Kerry Schneider

Systems strengthening and Sustainability 

  • Wednesday, 22 March, 6:30-7:45 pm EDT
  • Location: Trusteeship Council Chamber
  • Convenors: UNICEF, Mozambique, UK, Sweden, Dutch 
  • SIWI Speaker: Alejandro Jimenez 

SIWI-led events

Commitments to Accelerate Cooperation on Water, Environment, Climate, and Peace 

Counting Fish from Forests for Food Security: Multidisciplinary Watershed Management

Facing Water Global Challenges by thinking out of the “boat” – an intergenerational interactive session | New York Water Week event

Co-organised by SIWI

Joint Commitments to transforming water governance, climate adaptation and biodiversity: Indigenous Peoples, Member States and the UN 

  • Date: Thursday 23 March, 1:30-2:45 pm EDT
  • Location: UNDP FF Building (Doha Room, 11th Floor), 304 East 45th St, New York 10017 
  • SIWI Speaker: David Hebart-Coleman  

The event will be live-streamed, with interpretation provided from English to Spanish, as well as to French and Russian, subject to availability. 

Be the drop that shapes the wave! – Changing the story through the power of water and art for SDG6 

This session will be broadcasted live 

Source-to-Sea Collaboration: A Gamechanger for the Whole Water Cycle  

Committing to advance transboundary water cooperation worldwide for sustainable development, climate action, stability and peace

  • Date: Thursday 23 March, 6:30-7:45pm EDT
  • Location: UNHQ
  • Convenors: Government of Slovenia, Transboundary Water Cooperation Coalition and SIWI 
  • SIWI Speaker: Martina Klimes

Journey of Water from Source to Sea | New York Water Week event 

With SIWI speakers

Stronger together: Building resilience and prosperity through integrated and evidence-based management of the ocean-water continuum (S2S) 

Co-organised by SIWI

Promoting Private-Public Partnerships – a vehicle towards fulfilling SDG 6 and climate Actions   

  • Date: Friday 24 March, 8:00-8:45 am EDT
  • Location: UNHQ
  • Convenors: Japan Water Forum, Danish Water Forum (DWF),  Finnish Water Forum (FWF), French Water Partnership (FWP), SIWI/ Swedish Water House (SWH), Netherlands Water Partnership, Korea Water Forum, World Water Council 
  • Moderator: Thomas Rebermark, SIWI
  • SIWI Speakers: Malin Lundberg Ingemarsson, José Pablo Murillo
  • See details: https://events.iadb.org/calendar/event/26289?lang=en

Enhancing collaborative efforts toward knowledge and innovation for action in the water-climate nexus

This event will be broadcasted via UN TV

Source of innovation: Accelerating SDG 6 

Water Security, Disasters, and Resilience in a Changing Climate: Challenges, Opportunities, and Solutions

  • Date: Friday 24 March, 12:30-1:45pm EDT
  • Location: UNHQ, Room B
  • SIWI Speaker. Karin Gardes

Overcoming challenges and realizing the potential of groundwater in Sub-Saharan Africa through cooperative approaches

  • Date: Friday 24 March, 3:30-4:45pm EDT 
  • Location: UNHQ, Room C
  • Convenors: Grundfos Holding Ltd (Lead), WaterAid and Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) 
  • SIWI Speaker: Philip Beetlestone

Accelerating Blue financing of Nature-based Solutions for water security and disaster risk reduction 

  • Date: Friday 24 March, 3:30-4:45pm EDT 
  • Location: UNHQ, Room B 
  • Convenors: Conservation International , Van Oord, SIWI, WWF, GCA, Rabobank, Royal Haskoning DHV, EcoShape 
  • SIWI Speaker: Ruth Mathews

Conference & Showcase | Source of innovation: Accelerating SDG 6 

This session will be broadcasted live; link will be available soon. 

With SIWI speakers

 Localizing the Blue Economy: A City-Basin Approach (S2S) 

  • Date: Friday 24 March, 8.00-9:15 am EDT
  • Location: Conference room B
  • SIWI Speaker: Torgny Holmgren

Regional Indigenous Networks & Interagency Breakfast Meeting 

  • Date: Friday 24 March, 8:30-9:45 am EDT
  • Location: TBC 
  • Convenors: 
    • Indigenous peoples’ organizations and regional networks: Aborigen Forum, Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee and Caribbean Network of Indigenous Tribal Peoples. 
    • Intergovernmental organizations: Fondo para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas de América Latina y El Caribe (FILAC) 
    • NGO: Stockholm International Water Institute and Pawanka Fund 

Diagram: Join SIWI to New York | March 2023 UN 2023 Water Conference - 22-24 March: The UN 2023 Water Conference is the first UN Conference on freshwater in almost 50 years. It aims to accelerate action on existing water-related commitments and will serve a mid-term review of the Water Action Decade. New York Water Week - 18 - 24 March: ew York Water Week is taking place alongside the UN conference as a meeting place for anyone interested in water. Many of the inspiring events can also be followed online.

SIWI has taken an active part in the preparation of the UN 2023 Water Conference, sharing expertise and reflections. Here are some areas we will continue to champion during and after the event:

  • Strengthen water governance. SIWI welcomes the rapidly growing interest in good water governance. Ahead of the conference we shared these ten principles.
  • Good governance is always inclusive. In the lead-up to the conference, SIWI has advocated for more inclusive processes, and this will characterize all our activities.
  • We call on governments to immediately double investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). SIWI will advise on how to achieve SDG 6, on time.
  • We help cities boost their climate action. SIWI will host a side-event with tools and guidance for cities to become more climate resilient while also cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
  • We offer policy advice to governments based on new climate knowledge. SIWI will also offer climate mitigation advice to countries and international institutions based on new research.
  • We provide training in source-to-sea management. SIWI will organize a range of activities on this method to combat fragmented governance.
  • We facilitate transboundary water cooperation. SIWI will offer guidance to regions and basins on collaboration around shared waters despite increasing geopolitical tensions.
  • We accelerate the Water Action Agenda. After the conference, SIWI will not only continue to support individual actors but also offer World Water Week as an arena for implementation and collaboration.

In addition to hosting our own events at the UN 2023 Water Conference, SIWI experts will participate in activities organized by other organizations and take part in the New York Water Week between 18 and 24 March.


Torgny Holmgren is leading the SIWI delegation and will be speaking at several events, as will our other experts on site. Please reach out to us to discuss what we can do together to advance the Water Action Agenda. Media is more than welcome to contact Communication Director Andreas Karlsson.

The UN 2023 Water Conference is organized on 22 – 24 March by the United Nations General Assembly with the Governments of the Netherlands and Tajikistan as co-hosts. The aim is to accelerate action on commitments already made, in particular the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The conference also serves as a mid-term review of the Water Action Decade (2018-2028).  

Reports show that the water crisis is growing and that the world is not on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The co-hosts have therefore initiated a Water Action Agenda to fast-track water action. Countries and other stakeholders like cities, regions, NGOs, and businesses can contribute commitments that are tangible and actionable.  

The Water Action Agenda is one of the expected outcomes of the conference, together with a summary of the proceedings. The Conference will feature an opening and closing ceremony, six plenary meetings and five multi-stakeholder interactive dialogues. There will also be a number of high-level special events and side events organized by Member States, the UN system and other stakeholders. 

The whole conference is designed to be action-oriented, inclusive, and cross-sectoral. 

Alongside the UN 2023 Water Conference, the New York Water Week will take place on 18-24 March to further boost water action. New York Water Week is a public event, organized by the government of the Netherlands and the City of New York, where artists, businesses, community groups, NGOs and others can share their ideas and solutions for water. The activities will be held across the city but many can also be followed online so that people across the world can take part.