UN Water Conference: Uniting the world on water

By Climate Champions | March 22, 2023

The UN 2023 Water Conference will take place in New York City from 22 to 24 March 2023, co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands. It is the first time in 46 years that the UN will be convening a Water Conference as a mid-term review of the International Decade for Action.

The conference is expected to help raise attention for water, catalyse action and build partnerships to achieve international water goals. Stakeholders are encouraged to commit to actions that will be registered within a Water Action Agenda platform, which is meant to catalyse opportunities for cross-sector collaboration and big-picture thinking.

The outcome of the Conference will be a summary of the Conference proceedings and new commitments, pledges and actions by Governments and all stakeholders towards achieving SDG 6 and other water-related goals and targets, compiled in the Water Action Agenda.

The key building blocks of the Water Action Agenda are: Commitment to action; sustained and scalable implementation; and follow-up and review processes. These blocks will enable replication and scaling up of what works and bring successful solutions to a global scale.

The climate community and other sectoral actors can join the water community in making transformational commitments to collective action that can be followed up throughout the year and for many years to come.

The COP28 Presidency High-Level Champion representatives and the Climate Champions Team will be engaging in a range of events in and around the Conference. Climate Champions-led events include a webinar to discuss the role of non-state actors in contributing to a water-secure future and an informal workshop focusing on the challenges and opportunities related to debt conversion for nature.


Six Plenaries will run over the course of the conference offering Member States a platform to announce commitments, plans, actions, and best practices. The Opening Plenary will include statements from the Presidents of the Conference, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Economic and Social Council, the Secretary-General of the Conference, and the Chair of UN-Water.

The five interactive dialogues will address the following themes:

  • Water for Health: Access to WASH, including the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation (SDG 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and SDGs 1, 3, 4, 5, 17).
  • Water for Sustainable Development: Valuing Water, Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Sustainable Economic and Urban Development (SDG 6.3, 6.4, 6.5 and SDGs 2, 8, 9, 11, 12).
  • Water for Climate, Resilience and Environment: Source to Sea, Biodiversity, Climate,  Resilience and DRR (SDGs 6.5, 6.6, 7, 11.5, 13, 14, 15).
  • Water for Cooperation: Transboundary and International Water Cooperation, Cross Sectoral Cooperation, including Scientific Cooperation,  and Water Across the 2030 Agenda (SDG 6.5, 6.b and SDGs 16, 17).
  • Water Action Decade: Accelerating the implementation of the objectives of the Decade, including through the UN Secretary-General’s Action Plan.

Our work

Through our Water 2030 Breakthrough, we are helping consolidate action that sees water and wastewater services fully decarbonised in 20 countries by 2030. Delivery Partners include Water UK, The World Bank, IADB, CDP, CGA, 2030 WRG, IWA and Water Europe.

In the Ocean & Coastal Zones 2030 Breakthrough, we are working with delivery partners, such as the Global Mangrove Alliance, to secure USD 4 billion in investments to halt loss, restore half and double the protection of 17 millions hectares of mangroves.

The water-related target of the Sham El-Sheik Adaption Agenda involves the protection of 45 million hectares (lands and inland waters) and restoration of 350 million hectares of land, securing legal Indigenous and local communities with the use of Nature-based Solutions to improve water security and livelihoods.

At COP27, we launched the Action on Water Adaptation and Resilience Initiative (AWARe), which puts water front and centre of adaptation and resilience action by offering transitional adaptation solutions for the planet and people, starting with the world’s most vulnerable communities and ecosystems in Africa.

The initiative is arranged across three main priorities:

  • Decrease water loss and improve water supply worldwide.
  • Propose and support implementing mutually agreed policy and methods for cooperative water-related adaptation action and its co-benefits.
  • Promote cooperation and interlinkages between water and climate action in order to achieve Agenda 2030, in particular SDG6.

The Climate Champions Extended Compendium (see page 11) includes a range of water-related projects (9% of the global list of 128 projects), particularly from the Arab region. Common across all projects is: a need for a) an enabling environment b) technical assistance for projects in the early stages, and c) matching with suitable financiers – philanthropic or commercial banks.

Overall, our objectives include, but are not limited to, advancing Race to Zero targets to reach net zero in water utilities, accelerating actions and strengthening collaboration across partners and building and enhancing collaborative momentum.

Specific objectives include the acceleration of actions to restore and conserve peatlands;  accelerate the delivery Sharm El Sheikh Adaptation Agenda (SAA) and Water Action Pathway; progress Nature-based Solutions as a viable solution and help meet SAA ambition; accelerate support to raise seed funding for the African Cities Water Adaptation Fund (ACWA Fund) by COP28; and explore the role of non-state actors, specifically the private sector, in accelerating action on Early Warning Systems for All (EWS4ALL).



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