Brief Remarks at Side event to prepare for the 2023 UN Conference

Excellencies,Distinguished Participants,Ladies and Gentlemen,

The demand for water has been growing over the past decades.

Coupled with poor water management and exacerbated by climate change, this has increased water stress in many parts of the world.

Today, over 2 billion people are forced to drink unsafe water. And more than 4.5 billion people do not have safely managed sanitation services.

Women and girls especially suffer when water and sanitation are lacking. This affects health and often restricts work and education opportunities.

Forty percent of the world’s people are affected by water scarcity. Eighty percent of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment, and more than 90 percent of natural disasters are water-related.

On the ground, these are no longer mere numbers. They represent the harsh daily lives of people and communities around the globe.

Distinguished Participants,

This situation is projected to worsen if we continue business as usual.

In 2018, the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development reviewed the water related goals and targets, in-depth. The central message was clear: progress has been insufficient. We must have ambitious plans to achieve SDG 6 on water and sanitation.

In doing so, we will need:
  •  stronger political leadership,
  • improved water governance,
  • increased capacity, data and monitoring, and
  • a new financing paradigm.
We must succeed in transforming our silo-based approach to water supply, sanitation, water management and disaster risk reduction. Only then we will have a better chance to tackle water stress, fight climate change, and enhance resilience of societies.

Therefore, let us work together to raise awareness, promote engagement and encourage participation and accountability, at all levels.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Water Action Decade is a platform for policy dialogue, and for exchange of best practices and building partnerships. It provides us a unique opportunity to strengthen cooperation among countries and stakeholders.

The midterm review of the Decade will help assess to what extent stakeholders have:
  • enabled a greater focus on sustainable development and the integrated management of water resources; and
  • implemented related programmes and projects, as well as further cooperation and partnerships,
The UN Conference in 2023 will be the first such conference on water since 1977.

It represents a key opportunity to respond to the urgent water and sanitation challenges.

And, the preparatory process will help promote the implementation of water-related goals and targets and identify practical solutions.


The Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) has been tasked by the Secretary-General to carry out the mandates contained in the General Assembly resolution on the Water Action Decade, and to facilitate the activities for the Decade.

UN DESA has been co-chairing – together with United Nations University – the UN-Water Task Force on the Water Action Decade Implementation. The Task Force stands ready to support Member States in the preparatory process of the midterm review.

UN DESA remains fully committed to working with you in advancing the achievement of internationally agreed water-related goals and targets.

I wish you fruitful discussions and a continued successful Water Action Decade.

Thank you.
File date: 
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Mr. Liu