EVENT: Revisiting the UN Water Conference: 46 years of learning and forgetting?


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  • beniland
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EVENT: Revisiting the UN Water Conference: 46 years of learning and forgetting?


This event examines the progress and challenges that have shaped water and development from Mar-del- Plata (1977) to the upcoming  UN Water Conference in New York City (2023) . Speakers will focus on key achievements and missed opportunities, and reflect on what’s proposed at New York in terms of realising water for all.

The UN 2023 Water Conference will take place in New York City, from 22 to 24 March 2023. This event examines the  experiences, progress and challenges that have shaped and informed water and development from the first UN water conference at Mar-del-Plata in 1977 to New York City in 2023.  Forty-six years is a long time in policy contexts; much has been achieved and change has been dramatic. Nevertheless, there is perhaps a growing realisation that key targets and expectations have not been met in some geographies and, with climate-related pressures and other factors increasing, progress, arguably, could become even harder to achieve in future decades.

For example, recent changes in the global distribution, timing and intensity of rainfall events are adversely impacting the reliability and quality of water resources used for drinking water provision, food preparation, hygiene, irrigation, and livestock rearing. Whilst more frequent extremes of temperature are increasing levels of evapotranspiration in many areas, impacting land-use and livelihoods, through reductions in water availability, soil moisture and fertility. Changes to our climate, intensification of agriculture and increasingly rapid urbanisation are also altering the distribution and spread of many waterborne and water-related diseases.

Speakers at this event – co-organised by Prof Lyla Mehta of IDS and Dr Alan Nicol of the  International Water Management Institute  – will reflect on the achievements and missed opportunities of the past 46 years. They will also critically reflect on what needs to be done to realise water for all.

Speakers When
  • Date: 14 March 2023
  • Time: 16:00–17:30 (UK time)
This seminar will be followed by a drinks reception where you will be able to chat more with the speakers.

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  • paresh
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  • Budding WASH researcher, especially interested in governance, public policy, finance, politics and social justice. Architect, Urban & Regional planner by training, Ex. C-WAS, India. I am a patient person :)
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Re: EVENT: Revisiting the UN Water Conference: 46 years of learning and forgetting?

Thank you, Ben for informing our members about this very informative event on global water (and sanitation) governance processes. The video recording of the event can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eilgKgWrh_8

I am jotting below some of the key points of discussion to elicit more interest.
  • The Mar del Plata conference was a massive success due to a very high level of political commitment.  The 2023 conference, on the contrary, does not have such political commitment
  • There is no dedicated UN agency focused on water. On the other hand, UNFCCC focuses on climate change and UNICEF on children. UN-Water attempts to include water across the works of various agencies but does not have the same authority
  • It may be a good idea to have an agency that embeds water in the works of all UN agencies instead of having another new agency. 
I must acknowledge my limited understanding of the UN's working. The attched slides capture the content quite well. Others who attended or view the recording, please feel free to add points that interest you.

I'll urge members participating in the UN conference next week to certainly listen to this rich discussion on the history of  and the global water governance processes. 

Paresh Chhajed-Picha
Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @Sparsh85
Wikipedia: Sparsh85

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