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Recap of the United Nations 2023 Water Conference: Actions Taken and Challenges Faced

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Recently, the United Nations 2023 Water Conference was held in New York.


  1. The United Nations 2023 Water Conference was held after a 46-year gap, coinciding with the review of the implementation of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028).
  2. The review was conducted due to the realization that we are not on track to meet SDG No. 6 for water, which aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.
  3. The theme of the conference was “Our watershed moment: uniting the world for water.”
  4. The first water conference was held in Mar de Plata, Argentina, in 1977, and resulted in the first global Action Plan recognizing that all peoples have the right to access drinking water of a quality and quantity equal to their basic needs.

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Actions taken during the conference

  1. The Water Action Agenda received 700 voluntary commitments.
  2. The United States pledged an investment of as much as $49 billion to aid in the development of water and sanitation infrastructure and services that can withstand the effects of climate change.
  3. Japan pledged to contribute 500 billion yen to develop quality infrastructure to address water-related social issues in the Asia-Pacific region.
  4. Vietnam made a commitment to establish policies for the management of major river basins by 2025 and to provide access to clean running water by 2030.
  5. The African Union Commission and Continental Africa Investment Programme aim to mobilize at least $30 billion per year by 2030 to close Africa’s water investments gap.
  6. The EU aims to improve drinking water sources and sanitation facilities for 70 million individuals by 2030.
  7. Switzerland made 5 pledges related to Water Convention and cooperation across international boundaries.

Challenges :

  1. The commitments made during the conference are not legally binding and today’s water problems are more complex than those 50 years ago.
  2. Fragmentation is common in the water sector as water problems and their solutions are usually local.
  3. Global mobilizations may not be as effective in solving water problems compared to other fields.
  4. The current water problems are no longer just about access, and infrastructure spending does not necessarily lead to sustained access to water and sanitation.
  5. The conference did not tackle the violence and threats faced by communities in protecting depleting water sources.

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