Water through hands

Highlights and images for 12 March 2024

IFAD Headquarters, Rome, Italy


Dais (L-R): Federico Properzi, UN-Water Chief Technical Adviser; Bruce Gordon, UN-Water Vice-Chair; Alvaro Lario, UN-Water Chair; Madhushree Chatterjee, UN-Water Secretary; Cheng Li, UN-Water Technical Officer

UN-Water Members and Partners gathered at their biannual meeting to discuss how the UN family can “deliver as one” in response to water- and sanitation-related challenges. A particular focus for the first day of the 39th UN-Water Meeting was preparations for conferences on water for sustainable development to be convened in 2026 and 2028, as called for by a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2023. This same resolution called for the Secretary-General to present the first-ever UN system-wide water and sanitation strategy. 

Alvaro Lario, UN-Water Chair and President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), opened the discussions during the open session by highlighting the importance of the UN system-wide strategy for water and sanitation. He noted this strategy aims to build a coherent and focused approach for working on water and sanitation issues within the UN system. Lario said participants would engage in extended conversations on the second day on how to collaboratively implement the strategy working within the UN-Water family and the wider UN system. At the end of the first day, Lario informed participants that the UN’s High-Level Committee on Programmes, which was considering the draft strategy in parallel to their discussions, had just approved the new strategy.

View of room

A view of the room at IFAD Headquarters

Throughout the day, UN-Water Members highlighted linkages between the agenda’s topics and recent and upcoming international events. For example, representatives from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) called attention to resolutions adopted in early March during the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), acknowledging the need for UNEP’s strategic priorities to be aligned with the UN system-wide strategy. Representatives from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification highlighted ways in which water issues would be on the agenda during the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD in December 2024.  

Additional meetings that participants were briefed on included the: 

  • 10th World Water Forum, scheduled for Bali, Indonesia, in May;
  • 3rd High-Level International Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028, scheduled for June in Dushanbe, Tajikistan; 
  • Summit of the Future, scheduled for September in New York, US; and 
  • One Water Summit, scheduled for September in New York, US. 

The secretariat of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water updated participants on the planned launch of the Commission’s report, which will be the third such economic review of costs related to a global environmental challenge. The report follows the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change and the Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity. The report will be launched at the One Water Summit in September.


Timeline for the launch of the report from the Global Commission on the Economics of Water

Participants also discussed preparations for World Water Day 2024 and World Toilet Day 2024, which are focused on the theme 'Leveraging Water for Peace'; and International Year of Glaciers’ Preservation and World Water Day 2025. Progress under the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework was discussed as it relates to the SDG 6 Capacity Development Initiative and the Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6.

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