Blog.Dec 21, 2022

Happy new year 2023 

During 2022 we have seen water rise on the international agenda and assume a prominent place in almost all dialogues on development, sustainability, and our common future. This is a testament to water’s central role in tackling some of the greatest challenges of our time. As we now head into an exciting year for global water issues, it is crucial that we remain on this promising path. 

Having recently attended the COP27 climate conference in Egypt, I was happy to note that the importance of water was discussed everywhere.

At SIWI, we had the privilege of co-hosting the Water Pavilion, a dedicated forum for water focus during the conference. It was evident though, that water had been given a more prominent role in the conference, demonstrated for instance by the first official water day at a COP. This day, water was on the agenda of all other pavilions at the conference, demonstrating that almost all aspects of a sustainable future are linked to water. That is encouraging for the year ahead.

Unfortunately, 2022 has also reminded us, yet again, about the devastating effects of the global water crisis. Floods, droughts and raging fires have destroyed livelihoods and taken lives, and we have been made acutely aware of how vulnerable our societies are. We know that human activities are ultimately responsible for these events, and we know that we have in our power to change things for the better. Water is a key component for that to happen.

It is therefore timely that 2023 will see the first UN Water Conference since 1977 take place, in New York in March. It will provide an important opportunity for all actors in the global community to come together and make pledges for how to tackle current and future water issues.

“We must prepare for a more unpredictable world with more frequent and severe weather extremes. Societies can limit many of these impacts by working with rather than against nature”

Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director, SIWI 

There is a great need for new ideas and commitments. Many of our current systems are built with the assumption that we will always have a reliable supply of water. This will unfortunately not be the case. Instead, we must prepare for a more unpredictable world with more frequent and severe weather extremes. Societies can limit many of these impacts by working with rather than against nature, to strengthen the water cycle and increase the resilience of people and ecosystems.

To follow up on this, we will, during World Water Week in Stockholm in August 2023, put particular focus on innovation, under the theme Seeds of Change: Innovative Solutions for a Water-Wise World. We need new incentives and innovations, where we build on both new and well-established knowledge and best practices from around the world. This is a gigantic task, which must involve every sector and every country. With its uniquely diverse network, long history and agile work processes, World Water Week is the natural arena for this type of global learning and collaboration. As such, World Water Week will also contribute to the achievement of the commitments made at the UN Water Conference in New York.

Another big step for SIWI during 2023 will be the opening of our third regional office, in Amman, Jordan. It will serve as a base for our work in the Middle East and North Africa, where we have, over the past years, increased our operations substantially. With MENA being a highly water scarce region, where water plays an important role on all levels and in all parts of society, we find it natural to have a strong and permanent presence, as we already have with regional offices in Pretoria and Bogotá.

At SIWI we remain determined to keep working, in 2023 and beyond, to provide for wise management and governance of the world’s water resources. We hope you will want to join hands with us in this effort.

Happy new year,

Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director, SIWI