Summary report, 31 January – 1 February 2019

30th UN-Water Meeting

The 30th UN-Water Meeting convened from 31 January – 1 February 2019, in Rome, Italy, at the headquarters of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Over 50 delegates from UN-Water Members and Partners registered for the event, representing the UN Secretariat and UN agencies, funds, programmes and other entities, multilateral environmental agreements, and civil society organizations. An additional 23 Observers from governments and other organizations attended.

The meeting discussed upcoming high-level events and reports that are being prepared on water and sanitation policy and practice issues, including on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 (clean water and sanitation). Participants also addressed ongoing work on SDG 6 indicators and upcoming global awareness-raising events.

In preparation for the in-depth review of implementation of SDG 6 as one of the sub-set of SDGs to receive such a review during the July 2018 meeting of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), UN-Water Members had coordinated their efforts to develop the SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018. The 30th UN-Water Meeting reviewed the consultation process that was undertaken during the final stages of the preparation of the Synthesis Report, including recommendations for the next Synthesis Report. Participants also discussed a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution calling for two high-level meetings – one in 2021 and one in 2023 – on water and sanitation issues, and options for how UN-Water could contribute to the preparations for these meetings.

For the first time, the UN-Water agenda included an “Open Space” session for participants to propose specific topics that could benefit from a focused discussion and brainstorming. Participants said they appreciated the opportunity to hold face-to-face conversations on these topics, and agreed to include time for an Open Space on the agenda at the next UN-Water Meeting.

At the conclusion of the meeting, UN-Water Chair Gilbert Houngbo highlighted the discussions on data for measuring SDG 6 progress, country-level activities for UN-Water, and the role UN-Water Partners can play in engaging with UN-Water and the specialized UN agencies, all of which captured UN-Water’s collaborative approach to promoting a coordinated approach on water challenges. In adjourning the open session, he looked forward to seeing all Members and Partners at the next UN-Water Meeting, in August 2019, in Stockholm, Sweden.

 Brief History of UN-Water

Over 30 UN organizations carry out water and sanitation programmes, but no single UN entity is dedicated exclusively to these issues. The UN’s Intersecretariat Group for Water Resources began coordinating UN activities on water in 1977. Subsequently, in 2003, the UN Administrative Coordination Committee’s (ACC) Sub-committee on Water Resources transformed into UN-Water and was endorsed by the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination. UN-Water plays a coordinating role within the UN, to ensure that the UN family “delivers as one” in response to water-related challenges.

Initiatives: The overarching focus of UN-Water’s Members and Partners is to support UN Member States to sustainably manage water and sanitation. This mission is carried out through three areas of work.

Efforts to inform policies focus on placing water and sanitation issues on the agenda of key UN agreements, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs, the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development. SDG 6 calls for the international community to strive to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Efforts to monitor and report seek to provide coherent and reliable data and information on key water trends and management issues. The Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6 builds on and expands the experience and lessons learned during the Millennium Development Goal period, and aims to: develop methodologies and tools to monitor SDG 6 global indicators; raise awareness at national and global levels about SDG 6 monitoring; enhance technical and institutional country capacity for monitoring; and compile country data and report on global progress towards SDG 6.

Efforts to inspire action include coordination of the annual observance of World Water Day, on 22 March, and World Toilet Day, on 19 November. UN-Water releases the World Water Development Report on World Water Day annually.

Governance Structure: UN agencies, programmes and funds with a water-related mandate are Members of UN-Water. Partners are international organizations, professional unions, associations or other civil society groups that are actively involved in water and that have the capacity and willingness to contribute to the work of UN-Water.

UN-Water Senior Programme Managers (SPMs) are the representatives of UN-Water Members. They provide the overall governance and strategic direction and constitute the highest operational decision-making body of UN-Water.

The Chair of UN-Water is nominated among the UN Executive Heads after consultations in the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination. The Vice-Chair of UN-Water is elected among the UN-Water SPMs. The Secretary of UN-Water is a senior staff member of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in New York, US, and serves in a personal capacity and not in representation of UNDESA.

Report from 30th UN-Water Meeting

On Thursday afternoon, 31 January 2019, Gilbert Houngbo, UN-Water Chair, welcomed participants to the open session for UN-Members and UN-Partners, and invited participants to reflect on the world we live in, the role we play and how we adapt to change. He stressed that UN-Water embraces change and cherishes the opportunities of working together to provide safe water and sanitation “for everyone, everywhere.” He said UN-Water’s strengths are: a passion for water and sanitation; technical expertise; exceptional diversity; and a deep commitment to Member States. Looking ahead at how to help countries make progress towards water and sanitation for all and how to show leadership in the UN reform process, he called for a focus “on people, not process, and delivery, not bureaucracy.”

Selected Reports and Progress Updates

Chair Houngbo introduced the agenda item on reports and updates. He noted that a number of reports and progress updates were prepared for information only. Participants took note of the reports and updates from the: Expert Group on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); Expert Group on Water Scarcity; Expert Group on the 2030 Agenda; and Task Force on Unconventional Water Resources.

Update on the UN Reform Process: UN-Water Secretary Madhushree Chatterjee highlighted that, as part of the UN reform process, the Resident Coordinators have moved from being UN Development Programme (UNDP) staff to being UN Secretariat staff. She said there is a website with information on the UN reform process, and that additional workstreams include: finalization of the accountability framework; review of multicountry offices; and a regional review to ensure that regional assets better synchronize with the needs on the ground. She said the next comprehensive update will be provided during the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) development segment in May.

Progress Update from the Task Force on Country-level Engagement: Marianne Kjellén, Senior Water Advisor, UNDP, reviewed the work of the Task Force to date, including convening two meetings and developing and updating its Terms of Reference. She said the Task Force seeks to guide UN-Water in better supporting UN Member States in managing water-related issues. She also highlighted the opportunity to take advantage of current UN reforms, especially the strengthening of UN Resident Coordinators, with regard to country-level engagement. She said issues the Task Force is considering include identifying the demand for UN-Water support and communicating to countries and Resident Coordinators that support is available.

During the discussion, a participant noted that advocacy is one area where UN-Water could support Resident Coordinators, such as by helping to provide available UN system-wide data that could be presented to and discussed with countries. Other speakers: emphasized the importance of regional support; suggested that developing an understanding of “who is doing what” with regard to water issues at the country level would be helpful; proposed linking water resources management with water supply and sanitation issues; and suggested sharing SDG 6 implementation solutions to help countries learn from each other. One speaker suggested identifying which countries are preparing their UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF) and assisting them in the process.  

Decision: The SPMs welcome the progress of the Task Force on Country-level Engagement, approve the Task Force’s Terms of Reference and request the Task Force to present strategy options at the 31st UN-Water Meeting and the finalized strategy at the 32nd UN-Water Meeting.

Presentation from the Task Force on Regional Level Coordination: Carol Chouchani Cherfane, UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA), presented the Task Force on Regional Level Coordination Brief, noting that the Task Force completed its work and that a decision is needed on what to do with the remaining budget. She underscored that the Task Force recommended the creation of an Expert Group on Regional Level Coordination.

Participants discussed how region-specific groups promote coordination within their region, to be more operational and closer to action on the ground. Participants talked about defining the terms of reference for an expert group, and how and when to set them up, with several cautioning about taking too long to move forward on this decision. Some participants said such an expert group should have a global outlook, going beyond what the regional groups deal with and promoting “cross-fertilization,” with regions learning from one another. They further debated how to deal with the unspent budget, with several noting it should be returned to the UN-Water Trust Fund as the Task Force has effectively completed its mandate, while others said the authority to decide what to do with the funds lies with this group.

Decision: The SPMs thank the Task Force on Regional Level Coordination for completing its work and take note of the Report on the regional consultations. Having successfully completed its task, the Task Force is therefore closed and the unspent funds will be returned to the UN-Water Trust Fund.

The SPMs establish the Expert Group on Regional Level Coordination, coordinated by UNESCWA and UNESCAP, and invite UN-Water Members and Partners to express their interest in joining the group by 1 March 2019 by informing the coordinators.

The SPMs invite the Expert Group to submit its Terms of Reference for consideration by the SPMs at the 31st UN-Water Meeting, recommending that the Expert Group consider how it envisions to engage with existing and proposed regional-level coordination arrangements established in selected regions.

Progress Update from the Expert Group on Transboundary Waters: Francesca Bernardini, Secretary to the Water Convention, UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), discussed the work of the Expert Group on Transboundary Waters, which is coordinated by UNECE and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP). She highlighted that political attention to transboundary water issues has been growing and said a policy brief on this topic will be shared with the UN-Water SPMs later this year.

During the discussion, a participant suggested that the expert group think about transboundary water sharing, given that many countries address the issue with a focus on state sovereignty, and inquired about the role that financial instruments and multilateral development bank lending could play in promoting transboundary water management sharing activities. Participants also suggested adopting a pragmatic approach to countries that may not want to join the Water Convention.

Analysis and Implications of the Resolution on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development,” 2018-2028: Nicolas Franke, Special Assistant to the UN-Water Secretary, UNDESA, opened the discussion on the UNGA resolution on the midterm review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action and its implications. He highlighted that the resolution adopted at the end of 2018 calls for two UN high-level meetings. The first, he noted, is to be a one-day high-level gathering in 2021 to promote water-related goals and targets in the 2030 Agenda. In 2023, a meeting will consider the implementation of the objectives of the Decade. The 2023 meeting, Franke explained, is to be preceded by a preparatory process and accompanied by two reports: one will assess progress in the first half of the Decade, and the second will summarize the proceedings of the 2023 event. Franke said the arrangements and modalities of the 2023 event will be agreed during the 75th session of the UNGA, and UN-Water is requested to support the UN Secretary-General in the preparation of the report on the implementation of the Decade.

Franke noted that UN-Water could consider how it could support: the UNGA President in organizing the high-level meeting in 2021; and the Secretary-General in coordinating the preparatory process for the 2023 conference. He highlighted that the impact of the 2021 event could be enhanced if it is organized on the margins of another major event that would ensure high-level participation, and suggested that existing meetings could be used to support the preparatory process.

During the discussion, participants listed gatherings that could be taken into account for the preparation for these events, including: the biennial Dushanbe water conferences; an event on 27 March in New York on the interlinkages between climate and water actions; and the ninth World Water Forum, which will take place in March 2021 in Dakar, Senegal. Participants also suggested timing the event to coincide with the expected release, in June 2021, of the next review of the SDG 6 indicator data and focusing the theme of the 2021World Water Development Report on the event.

Participants also discussed which task force should respond to these mandates, noting that task force membership is open to all and questioning whether the task force on the implementation of the Decade is the appropriate one.

Decision: The SPMs welcome and avail UN-Water’s support to the resolution on the “Midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Sustainable Development’ 2018-2028,” and request the Task Force on Water Action Decade Implementation to take necessary steps to respond to the mandates for UN-Water both explicit and implicit included in the resolution. The Task Force on Water Action Decade Implementation will report on progress to support the resolution at the 31st UN-Water Meeting.

The SPMs thank the Task Force on UN High-level Meetings on Water and Sanitation and take note that this Task Force is now closed after the successful delivery of the technical advice concept note on “Addressing Global Water Challenges and Accelerating Progress on SDG 6 at the Country Level.”

Presentation of Feedback from UN-Water Partners in Response to Recommendation 3 of the UN-Water External Review 2018: Federico Properzi, UN-Water Chief Technical Adviser, presented feedback from UN-Water Partners in response to recommendation 3 of the UN-Water External Review 2018 that UN-Water “establishes a platform of a wider group of stakeholders including like-minded donors, NGOs and the private sector to assist UN-Water to identify the key challenges and opportunities facing the water sector.”

He thanked the UN-Water Partners who responded to a survey on how to adapt existing structures and processes, in particular the UN-Water Meetings, to better serve their needs, noting the highest ranking recommendation is to allow for more substantive, transparent and inclusive interaction and discussion on broad and overarching issues during these meetings. He also highlighted existing channels and resources to promote engagement such as mailing lists as coordination tools and the revival of the extranet. He noted that Friday’s Open Space session seeks to improve interaction among UN-Water Partners and Members.

During the discussion, one participant proposed setting up a WhatsApp group as a platform for informal exchange, with Chair Houngbo suggesting the Secretariat facilitate its creation. Some underscored that different partners work on similar issues but in different ways and would therefore benefit from presentations about what each does. One participant noted that UN-Water is about how partners work together rather than what each does individually. Another stressed that mayors, local leaders and those in the field “have much to share.” Chair Houngbo stressed the importance of reaching out beyond the UN system, underscoring water initiatives presented at this year’s Davos World Economic Forum by actors outside UN-Water. A participant questioned whether the closed sessions held at the beginning and at the end of UN-Water Meetings should be open to all, and closed only on an ad hoc basis.

Decision:The SPMs welcome the feedback received from UN-Water Partners on the UN-Water Meetings, and commit to take the feedback into account for future UN-Water Meetings.

Proposed Water and Climate Related Activities Leading Up to World Water Day 2020: Claudio Caponi, Senior Scientific Officer, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), presented the proposed water and climate related activities leading up to World Water Day 2020, highlighting the side event that took place at the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) 24 to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the role of water in achieving climate neutrality. He drew attention to the water and climate theme of the 2020 World Water Day, during which the role of water in climate change adaptation and mitigation will be highlighted. He said the policy brief produced for the COP will be updated and launched at the HLPF in July 2019, which will be reviewing progress on SDG 13 (climate action). He also drew attention to a longer background brief on water and climate that will be presented at the UN Climate Summit in September 2019 or at COP 25 in January 2020, and at World Water Day in 2020.

Participants stressed the need to reach beyond the water community, noting the growing importance afforded to water issues in climate discussions, and one commended those involved in the COP 24 side event.

Decision: The SPMs decide that World Water Day 2020 is coordinated by the Expert Group on Water and Climate Change. UN-Water Members and Partners who wish to be involved in the World Water Day 2020 campaign are invited to join the Expert Group by informing the Expert Group coordinators at UNECE, UNESCO or WMO.

Planning for UN-Water’s Joint Activities at the High-level Political Forum and the SDG Summit 2019: Madhushree Chatterjee, UN-Water Secretary, outlined a number of ways through which UN-Water could engage in the 2019 sessions of the HLPF, which will take place in July, under the auspices of ECOSOC, and in September, under the auspices of UNGA. She noted that the upcoming expert group meetings (EGMs) on the Goals that will be examined in depth during the July HLPF session will be an opportunity to highlight linkages between those Goals and SDG 6 (see upcoming meetings list below for these events). She said an additional option would be to organize a side event on how water and sanitation issues relate to the Goals under review.

During the discussion, participants were reminded that the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition has invited UN-Water to participate in their EGM. Regional preparatory meetings for the HLPF were also highlighted as entry points to promote the linkages between SDG 6 and the sub-set of Goals that HLPF 2019 will review: SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

Decision: The SPMs task the Expert Group on the 2030 Agenda to lead on UN-Water engagement in the July and September sessions of HLPF 2019.

Monitoring and Reporting

Integrated Monitoring Initiative: William Reidhead, UN-Water Global Monitoring Officer, presented on the UN-Water Integrated Monitoring Initiative 2019. He provided an overview of progress under the eleven SDG 6 indicators. He highlighted the launch of seven indicator reports that fed into the SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018 on Water and Sanitation, and a number of meetings and planning milestones, including webinars for focal points. He noted that the World Health Organization (WHO)/UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP), the UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) and the Integrated Monitoring Initiative (GEMI) concluded the development of the second phase of the Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6 and secured USD 11 million for 2019-2022. He said an SDG 6 data portal will be ready by March 2019, and discussed the next global data drive in 2020, highlighting that the steering committee for the initiative should be used to discuss new ideas to have “a coordinated voice” to present to the UN system.

He then presented JMP and GLAAS milestones for the year, such as on capacity building and developing tools, highlighting that JMP has data going back 19 years.

Federico Properzi, UN-Water Chief Technical Adviser, expanded on the GLAAS 2018-2019 cycle, noting it focuses on national policies, plans and targets. He said it is a main data source for monitoring the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) Collaborative Behaviors, and that tracking financing for WASH is an integral part of GLAAS. He noted that expenditure for drinking water is greater than for hygiene and sanitation, and that half of WASH expenditure goes into operational maintenance.

Participants discussed private sector engagement in monitoring and data use, with one noting that large companies often have a wealth of data that they would be willing to share, provided regulations are in place to ensure competitors play by the same rules. They drew attention to mechanisms to reduce the number of people facing water scarcity. Participants stressed the fundamental importance of data and using it “to keep the urgency alive” to move forward on SDG 6, and of linking data to solutions. They expanded on data disaggregation, for instance in focusing on “last mile groups,” and its usefulness in helping agencies and the private sector direct their work. Participants discussed capacity building to break down existing data, and drew attention to the World Water Data Initiative. They also discussed linking data and policy, and the need to ensure clarity on data flows to avoid duplication and overlap.

Participants noted that data come from many sources, and coordination, streamlining and harmonization are of paramount importance. They discussed options for proposing new indicators, with one noting that only half of the Tier I and Tier II indicators are currently being reported on, while the Tier III indicators do not yet have an agreed methodology. In closing, participants underscored the importance of the coordinating role of UN-Water and the option for Members and Partners to collaborate and use data to support implementation at the national and sub-national levels. Reidhead noted that many of the issues raised were discussed during the GEMI Steering Committee session that took place immediately prior to the 30th UN-Water Meeting and invited everyone to next year’s open session of the GEMI Steering Committee.

Final report of the UN-Water SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018 on Water and Sanitation and the Public Dialogue: Stefan Uhlenbrook, World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) Coordinator, UNESCO, discussed the public dialogue process that focused on the SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018 on Water and Sanitation, highlighting that the 28th UN-Water Meeting, in February 2018, decided that it should take place. He noted that respondents reported in an online survey that the biggest challenge to delivering water and sanitation services is a lack of accountability and transparency, closely followed by inadequate economic resources. He said the lowest rated reason was a lack of technical capacity.

For the preparation of the next SDG 6 Synthesis Report, he said recommendations include: inviting feedback earlier in the process of developing the report; including more case studies and easier access to more national data; improving indicator methodologies; focusing on intra-linkages between the SDG 6 targets; and including all water-related targets, not just those in SDG 6.

Participants highlighted, inter alia, that the preparation of reports such as the Synthesis Report has helped the UN agencies to collaborate.   

Decision: The SPMs acknowledge with appreciation the report on the Public Dialogue of the SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018. The Public Dialogue recommendations will be considered in future related activities. Having successfully completed all its tasks, the Task Force on the SDG Synthesis Report 2018 is therefore closed.

Update on the World Water Development Report 2019 and 2020: Stefan Uhlenbrook, WWAP Coordinator, UNESCO, reported that World Water Development Report 2019, which focuses on the theme “Leaving No One Behind” will be launched during a Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Switzerland.

He noted that the inception meeting on World Water Development Report 2020, which will focus on climate change and water, took place in 2018, and draft chapters are expected by the end of March 2019.

Decision: UN-Water Members and Partners are invited to promote the World Water Development Report with support of UNESCO WWAP in the organization of activities and events aiming to widely disseminate the findings of the World Water Development Report 2019. UN-Water Members and Partners are invited to feature a news item concerning the World Water Development Report 2019 on their institutional website and create a link to WWAP’s website for download of the report, side publication and other material (presentation with script, communication material, etc.). Lead Agencies are requested to follow the deadlines of the production calendar for the development of World Water Development Report 2020.

Presentation of the World Water Quality Assessment: Joakim Harlin, Chief, Freshwater Unit, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), noted that the World Water Quality Assessment was called for by the third session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3). He said an inception workshop hosted by WMO and UNEP took place from 28-29 November 2018 in Geneva, and commitments were made by participants to contribute to the work. The full global report is planned for UNEA-5, which is expected to take place in February 2021.

During the discussion, participants suggested that the ambition for the report could be managed in order to ensure that it results in a focused product, and that it could address emergent pollutants.

Decision: The SPMs welcome the work on the World Water Quality Assessment and its international and multidisciplinary Alliance and invite UNEP as well as other UN-Water Members and Partners to continue sharing information as necessary, ensuring appropriate synergies with the Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6 and water quality related work that can be mutually supporting.

Global Campaigns

Report on the World Toilet Day 2018 on Nature Based Solutions: Eileen Palmer, Corporate Communications and Media, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), reviewed the activities and results from the activities that took place to mark the day, which is celebrated annually on 19 November. She highlighted the tendency to move from face-to-face to online conversations for such global campaigns, while noting that activities targeted at policy makers remain important.

During the discussion, participants noted that these global campaigns illustrate the power of involving different institutions to drive these issues.

Update on the planning for World Water Day and World Toilet Day 2019 on Leaving No One Behind: Murray Burt, Head of Global WASH Unit, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), highlighted that the theme for these two global campaigns is “people- and human-focused,” which provides the opportunity to engage the high commissioners at the highest level. He said the campaigns will target the general public, policy makers and local and regional authorities involved in service delivery and regulation and compliance monitoring.

Mohammed Boussraoui, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), reviewed work that UCLG is doing, including through developing information kits and a social media campaign.

Final Selection of Themes for the World Water Day 2021 and 2022: Daniella Bostrom, UN-Water Communications Manager, introduced the discussion on the final selection of themes for the World Water Day 2021 and 2022, noting that brainstorming sessions took place at the previous UN-Water Meeting in Stockholm. In all, she noted, participants came up with 15 potential themes and voted for their favorites in a six-week online poll. The highest ranking themes were: Valuing Water; Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible; and Water and Innovation.

During the discussion, participants noted the chosen themes should tie in to the meetings happening in 2021 and 2022. One lamented that the theme, “WASH for health care facilities,” had not ranked highly and stressed that new data on the topic will be coming out to potentially form the backbone for the theme. Another expressed satisfaction that “Groundwater” came out second best and drew attention to groundwater discussions at the World Water Forum, noting that some 45 organizations are dealing with the topic but could benefit from improved synergies.

Participants agreed that the theme for 2021 will be “Valuing Water” and the theme for 2022 will be “Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible,” with one highlighting the links with the theme of the Senegal World Water Forum, “Water Security for Peace and Development,” taking place in March 2021, and another calling for previous themes to be referenced in current reports. Others noted that both topics allow the water community to reach out beyond their constituencies.

Decision: UN-Water decides “Valuing Water” as the theme for World Water Day 2021, and “Groundwater: making the invisible visible” as the theme for World Water Day 2022.

Future Events for UN-Water’s Possible Engagement

Sanitation and Water for All Sector Ministers’ Meeting: Alexandra Reis, Communications Manager, SWA, presented on the Sanitation and Water for All Sector Ministers’ Meeting, to be held in San José, Costa Rica, from 4-5 April 2019. She noted that water, sanitation and hygiene ministers will attend, as will other participants from a range of sectors. She underscored that the meeting will provide an opportunity to exchange experiences in addressing SDG 6. She noted it will be held in preparation for an upcoming finance ministers’ meeting and that outputs from the six-month preparation process will include a country brief and a presentation for ministers. Reis highlighted that a formal invitation was sent to the UN-Water Chair.

UNESCO Water Conference: Maria Donoso, Director, Division of Water Sciences, UNESCO, presented on the UNESCO Water Conference that will take place in Paris, France, from 13-14 May 2019. She noted that the structure of the meeting was based on the outcomes of the public dialogue reports to address water management in a sustainable way. She said the idea is to leverage intersectorality for the benefit of water security and peace, bringing all stakeholders to the table to share best practice. The panel discussions will take place at all levels, she explained, from the political arena to scientists and the public, and look at water from different perspectives. To date, confirmations have been received from the presidential and ministerial levels.

UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) 14th session of the Conference of the Parties: Daniel Tsegai, Programme Officer, UNCCD, presented on UNCCD COP 14, which is taking place in New Delhi, India, in October 2019. He noted that the UNCCD would like to ensure that UN-Water is visible at the COP, and suggested that UN-Water prepare a side event and take part in a round table to increase visibility. He stressed that “land is a connector,” and invited participants to explore how to productively engage with UNCCD.

Decision: The SPMs decide to organize a side event and to attend – through the Chair or Vice-Chair – the high-level round table due to be held in the framework of UNCCD COP 14. This engagement will be organized through the Expert Group on Water Scarcity.

Expo 2020 Dubai: Shahbano Tirmizi, Senior Manager, Global Best Practice Programme, Expo 2020 Dubai, presented on Expo 2020 to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, beginning on 20 October 2020. She noted that the Expos take place every five years, last for six months and that the previous one was held in Milan, Italy, on food security. She noted that the 2020 Expo on “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” will have three districts on Opportunity, Sustainability and Mobility. She reported that 196 countries have confirmed participation. She said a UN Pavilion will focus on youth, foundations and NGOs, and noted that many pavilions will have a water theme. Overall, the three key topics of Expo 2020 are agriculture, climate change and water. Tirmizi highlighted the Expo’s Global Best Practice Programme, which will spotlight local, effective solutions to global development challenges from around the world. She invited participants to share success stories that can be replicated and scaled up.

Decision: The SPMs decide that UN-Water should engage in the Expo 2020 Dubai, including by participating in the International Selection Committee for Topic 5 – Inclusive and Sustainable Service Delivery. The SPMs request the Management Team to continue discussions with the Expo organizers and to present an engagement plan to the SPMs latest by the 31st UN-Water Meeting.

OECD Roundtable on Financing Water: Kathleen Dominique, Environmental Economist/Policy Analyst, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), presented on the OECD Roundtable on Financing Water, explaining it is a global public-private platform established in 2017 by the OECD, the World Water Council (WWC) and the Netherlands to facilitate increased financing of investments that contribute to water security and sustainable growth. She noted that SDG 6 “is not going to be achieved unless there is a historic shift in investment scale,” and highlighted the need to reach out to the finance community of public and private actors. She explained the roundtable provides a platform for structured and systematic engagement to both raise the profile of financing on the international political agenda and raise the profile of water issues within the finance community.

Participants requested clarification as to whether UN-Water should participate in one roundtable or in a series of regional ones, and whether engagement should be limited to GLAAS or not. The draft decision was amended to reflect the will of UN-Water to participate through GLAAS with the option for other parts of UN-Water to be included.

Decision: The SPMs welcome the update on the OECD Roundtable on Financing Water and decide that UN-Water will engage as appropriate, particularly through the UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS).

Marlos De Souza, Senior Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), announced the 1st WASAG International Forum on Water Scarcity in Agriculture, taking place from 19-22 March 2019 in Praia, Cabo Verde, noting numerous UN-Water partners will participate.

Open Space

On Friday morning, Open Space sessions considered the following topics: the water and energy network synergies with SDGs 6 and 7 (affordable and clean energy); a consultation on GWP’s new strategy; what is being done to build our own capacity; how to best inform the high-level meeting on water in 2023 that the UNGA resolution called for; financing water and basin development; disaggregating SDG 6 indicators for country needs; country level engagement and active partners in-country; dialogue with the scientific community; engaging the business community in achieving SDG 6; and how to bring the issue of land onto the UN-Water radar.

At the conclusion of the Open Space discussions, participants supported including such an agenda item at future UN-Water Meetings, and noted that it was useful to have face-to-face discussions about topics that might otherwise have just been discussed via email. Several participants said it would be good to preview the topics in advance, in order to be better prepared, although they supported keeping the sessions as brainstorming opportunities.

Decision on Date and Venue of Next UN-Water Meeting and Closing Remarks

UN-Water Chair Houngbo presented the proposal for the date and venue of the next UN-Water meeting, and provided closing remarks to Partners. The 31st UN-Water Meeting will take place from 23-24 August 2019, in Stockholm.

In closing the session, Chair Houngbo thanked partners for their work, and highlighted the extensive dialogues around data and monitoring, country level participation and the role that UN-Water Partners play in engaging with the UN and specialized agencies. He looked forward to seeing the Partners in August, if not earlier. The open meeting was adjourned at 3:20 pm.

Upcoming Meetings

First World Summit on Leaving No One Behind: The First World Summit on Leaving No One Behind will address the theme, “Human Rights Based Solutions for Access to Water and Sanitation.” The Summit is organized and sponsored by Water Lex, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Water Resources Association (IWRA). It is expected to convene annually, combining the “Leaving No One Behind” theme of the 2019 global awareness-raising events with future themes.  dates: 7-8 February 2019  location: Geneva, Switzerland  www:

Fourth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4): UNEA-4 will consider the theme, “Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production.”  dates: 11-15 March 2019  location: Nairobi, Kenya  www:

First WASAG International Forum on Water Scarcity in Agriculture: This forum aims at identifying solutions to address water scarcity in agriculture in a changing climate.  dates:  19-22 March 2019  location: Praia, Cabo Verde  www:

World Water Day 2019: The 2019 theme for this global awareness-raising campaign is, “Leaving No One Behind.”  date: 22 March 2019  location: worldwide  www:

Vietnam International Water Week (VACI2019): This event will consider innovative water solutions with an emphasis on Viet Nam and tropical water issues.  dates: 22-25 March 2019  location: Hanoi, Viet Nam  www:

Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators Ninth Meeting: This meeting will review the tier classifications for SDG indicators, review work plans for indicators in Tier III, discuss the 2020 comprehensive review of the indicator framework and additional indicators, consider data disaggregation issues, and share experiences in SDG monitoring.  dates: 25-28 March 2019  location: Beirut, Lebanon  www:

Expert Group Meeting on SDG 10: The expert group meeting (EGM) on SDG 10 (reduced inequalities) will take place in preparation for the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).  dates: 27-28 March 2019  location: Accra, Ghana  www: 

First Global Conference on Synergies between the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement: This event will be convened by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the UNFCCC. It will serve as the EGM on SDG 13 (climate action) ahead of the in-depth review of SDG 13 by the HLPF.  dates: 1-3 April 2019  location: Copenhagen, Denmark  www:

Expert Group Meeting on SDG 8: The EGM on SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) will take place in preparation for the July 2019 session of the HLPF.  dates: 4-5 April 2019  location: Geneva, Switzerland  www:

Sanitation and Water for All Sector Ministers’ Meeting: The Sanitation and Water for All Sector Ministers’ Meeting will support the achievement of the water, sanitation and hygiene-related targets of the SDGs.  dates: 4-5 April 2019  location: San José, Costa Rica  www:  

UNESCO International Water Conference: The UNESCO International Water Conference aims to advance sustainable water security and peace by leveraging intersectoral management of water resources.  dates: 13-14 May 2019  location: Paris, France  www:

High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF): The seventh session of the HLPF will convene under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). HLPF 2019 will address the theme, “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality,” and will conduct an in-depth review of SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), in addition to SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals) which is reviewed each year.  dates: 9-18 July 2019  location: New York, US  www:

31st UN-Water Meeting: This meeting will gather UN-Water Members and Partners to coordinate the UN’s approach to water and sanitation issues.  dates: 23-24 August 2019  location: Stockholm, Sweden  www:  

World Water Week 2019: The 29th World Water Week, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and partners, will focus on the theme, “Water for Society: Including All.”  dates: 25-30 August 2019  location: Stockholm, Sweden  www:

Further information


Negotiating blocs
Organization Economic Cooperation and Development
Non-state coalitions