The United Nations 2023 Conference: Where do we go from here?
UN 2023 Water Conference will not end with a global treaty for water, and it should not be seen as an end - but a starting point. Therefore, what happens in the aftermath of the conference becomes key.
Mark Fletcher, Global Water Business leader at Arup, noted that the urgency of the situation has not been grasped yet. At the same time, he pointed out progress: “People increasingly ask, ‘What difference can I make?’ At COP we have gone from having a public event, to having a whole Water Pavilion, to real practical action in Sharm El Sheikh,” referring to how the water community has joined forces to influence the yearly climate negotiations. “I hope that people commit to action,” Fletcher said.
How the momentum around freshwater action can be maintained became the centrepiece of the discussions. Virginia Roaf, Senior Advisor Sanitation and Water for All pointed out that while oftentimes many commitments are made, it is difficult to see what happens to them. She acknowledged the challenges of getting governments to commit but also acknowledged progress on multi-stakeholder platforms.
World Water Week’s Acting Director Susanne Halling Duffy echoed that sentiment and highlighted the key role of World Water Week as an inclusive and diverse space to follow up on the UN 2023 Water Conference. “We want to keep the conversation going,” she said and emphasized that SIWI has also made a commitment to the Water Action Agenda offering World Water Week as an implementation platform.
Halling Duffy described how the Week is designed to be inclusive and action-oriented. This year online participation in World Water Week will also be free of charge. Thomas Rebermark, Director of SIWI’s Swedish Water House and International Policy team, supported her call and outlined: “SIWI has a strong convening role. We can be instrumental in bringing actors together at World Water Week but also in other international processes, like the Water Pavilion at the climate COP meetings.”
The final speaker, Annabelle Rayson, winner of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize urged for the conference to make steps on clean and accessible water for all, but also to focus on the vital role of nature-based solutions. She emphasized the key role of inclusivity which leads to more action and different perspectives: “To make the sweeping changes that we need, we need to make the steps together.”
World Water Week
World Water Week is the leading conference on global water issues, held every year since 1991. The theme for 2023 is "Seeds of Change: Innovative Solutions for a Water-Wise World".Learn more about this event