Family and well

Highlights and images for 24 March 2023

UN Headquarters, New York

UN General Assembly

Closing Ceremony - UN Water 2023 - 24 Mrach 2023 - Photo

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, and Csaba Kőrösi, President of the UN General Assembly, receive Water Action Agenda voluntary commitments

Delegates wrapped up the final day of the UN 2023 Water Conference to enthusiastic applause after Conference Co-President Emomali Rahmon announced that a new role, UN Special Envoy for Water, would be established. 

Earlier in the day, the general debate continued in plenary, with participants expressing support for a transformative change in water conservation and management. Several shared pledges, bringing the number of commitments registered in the Water Action Agenda to 708 by the end of the meeting. During the closing plenary, delegates heard reports from the Interactive Dialogues and closing statements.

Dialogue 6 - UNWater2023 - 24March2023

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister, Social Policies, Singapore

An Interactive Dialogue on the Water Action Decade was held in parallel to the morning plenary session, co-chaired by Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister, Social Policies, Singapore, and Monica Medina, US Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

During panel discussions, several speakers identified the critical role of partnerships. Basuki Hadimuljono, Minister of Public Works and Public Housing, Indonesia, said the Water Action Decade should focus on partnerships, financial strategies and commitments in peatland restoration, and management of lakes and transboundary water resources. Usha Rao-Monari, Under-Secretary-General, UN Development Programme, cited the example of the 2030 Water Resources Group, which is a public-private partnership aimed at driving change in institutions. 

Dialogue 1- UNWater2023 - 24March2023

Qu Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO)

Sivan Ya’ari, Founder and CEO of Innovation: Africa, reported on projects pumping water using solar energy in Africa, which have impacted 900 villages and 4 million people. She urged African countries to waive value added tax and subsidize the costs of well drilling.

Sivan Ya’ari, Founder and CEO, Innovation- Africa - UNWater2023 - 24March2023 -Photo

Sivan Ya’ari, Founder and CEO, Innovation: Africa

Some commitments made during plenary and the dialogue meetings include:

  • Germany, Switzerland and France pledging to provide financial support for a UN Special Envoy for Water;
  • FAO to organize a multi-stakeholder Global Dialogue on Water Tenure to address water allocation under scenarios of diminishing freshwater resources due to climate change;
  • The World Meteorological Organization spearheading an initiative to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years;
  • Bayer committing to a 25% reduction of water in rice production by 2030 by transforming rice growing methods; and 
  • Xylem Inc pledging, with 16 other private sector companies, to invest more than USD 11 billion in innovation over five years, including engagement with youth. 
Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan

Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan 

The Closing Plenary took place in the afternoon. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the Conference has demonstrated the central truth that water unites us all and needs to be at the center of the global political agenda. 

Csaba Kőrösi, President of the UN General Assembly, reiterated that the global water cycle is a common good that transcends culture and borders. He commended everyone on their determination to unite for shared responsibilities, reporting that pledges made during the UN 2023 Water Conference equal USD 300 billion.

Gilbert Houngbo, Chair of UN-Water, said the conference demonstrated the importance of cooperation across sectors, stakeholders and borders. He also said it has affirmed the fundamental role of water as a human right and sanitation as a guiding light, adding that we all have a role in securing the change we want to see.

Following a ceremonial handing over of messages from the conference to UN Secretary-General Guterres, Conference Co-President Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan, gavelled the UN 2023 Water Conference to a close at 5:32 pm. 

As the conference drew to a close, a reluctance to leave the meeting was apparent as delegates lingered, shared contacts, and continued to network in the corridors. A positive emotional energy was palpable, with the announcement of Iraq acceding to the Water Convention coming as a sign of concrete positive momentum. While this meeting was a first for many, since only a handful of veterans from the 1977 meeting were in attendance, delegates were thirsty for more multilateral action and heard reiterating calls to ensure regular meetings.