Remarks at Briefing to Member States on the UN 2023 Water Conference

Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the Secretary-General of the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, I am delighted to speak to you at this briefing on the UN 2023 Water Conference.

Water is crosscutting, impacting many of our common development priorities. The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic along with the recent conflict in Ukraine  have only served to highlight that water is imperative for sustainable development and is a basic human right.

Today, 40 per cent of the world’s people are affected by water scarcity; 80 per cent of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment; and more than 90 per cent of disasters are water related.

The UN 2023 Water Conference is expected to tackle these imminent challenges and propel much needed action towards the achievement of the objectives of the Water Action Decade and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Distinguished participants,

The Conference will allow for both intergovernmental discussions and multistakeholder engagement. It will comprise an opening and a closing ceremony, six plenary meetings, and five interactive dialogues.

The plenary meetings will be devoted to statements by Member States and other stakeholders. Each 3-hour interactive dialogue will include a panel discussion followed by an interactive debate among Member States and relevant stakeholders.

The outcome of the Conference will be a summary of the Conference proceedings, prepared by the President of the UN General Assembly.

Since last June, the Conference co-hosts, Tajikistan and the Netherlands, and the Conference Secretariat in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), with the support of UN-Water, have been working on substantial and logistical preparations.

In February, in my capacity as the Conference Secretary-General, I convened the first meeting of the inter-departmental task force to launch Secretariat-wide logistical preparations.
Dear colleagues,

In January, I invited all Member States to propose possible themes for the interactive dialogues of the Conference. Since then, 61 themes have been proposed by 17 Member States. I thank those Member States who have submitted their proposals and encourage others to do so. Your contributions will further enrich the conversations ahead of us.

The most common themes identified by Member States can be broadly classified under the following five clusters:

  • Water, climate change and disaster risk reduction
  • Water and peace and security
  • Water for agriculture and food security
  • Nature and water quality
  • Universal access to water and sanitation.

In addition, UN-Water put forward a set of four options on possible dialogue themes.

  • Under option 1, dialogue themes would be organized around the four workstreams of the Plan of the Water Action Decade.
  • Option 2 would organize the dialogues around the five “accelerators” of the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework.
  • Option 3 focuses on SDG 6 and other water-related targets of the 2030 Agenda and highlights its links to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • Under option 4, dialogue themes would be organized around major water challenges across sectors.

In parallel, DESA conducted a global online stakeholder consultation on possible themes. Inputs from 146 organizations in 46 countries, including NGOs, academic entities, businesses, science communities, and youth, have been received. Most stakeholders recommended themes on:

  • Water, sanitation and hygiene
  • Transboundary cooperation
  • Interlinkages between water and climate change
  • Impact of COVID-19 on water access; and
  • Data collection and sharing.

The proposals from Member States, stakeholders and UN-Water are posted on the Conference website. The themes of the interactive dialogues will be finalized at a one-day preparatory meeting, to be convened by the President of the General Assembly by November 2022.

During the Conference, high-level special events, side events, exhibits, and other activities will be organized by participants at and around UN Headquarters. I encourage all of you to register for a dedicated mailing list on the Conference website to receive up-to-date information.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The UN 2023 Water Conference is expected to bring about a transformative effect, with concrete actions and commitments for a greener, safer, and better future. We look forward to the participation of all Member States and a wide range of stakeholders.

DESA, with the support of UN-Water, stands ready to assist the co-hosts, Tajikistan and the Netherlands, to achieve the internationally agreed water-related goals and targets through the Conference.

I thank you.

File date: 
Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Mr. Liu