The briefings contribute to the UN 2023 Water Conference in March and the SDG Summit in September 2023, as well as to several negotiating processes related to transformation currently underway in the UNGA.
The event aligns with the UNGA President’s motto of ‘Solutions through Solidarity, Sustainability and Science’.
President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Csaba Kőrösi convened an informal plenary meeting to hear briefings from eminent scientists to inform sustainable solutions on: the economics of water; climate, conflict, and cooperation; and early warning for pandemic preparedness.
Held on 7 February, the three briefings contribute to the UN 2023 Water Conference in March and the SDG Summit in September 2023, as well as to several negotiating processes related to transformation currently underway in the UNGA.
In his opening remarks, the UNGA President described science as a “leitmotif and cornerstone” in the work of the 77th session of the General Assembly. He identified three “layers” of work directed at “bring[ing] science to our community”: targeted science briefings on relevant topics; ensuring that the product of negotiations is relevant and transformative; and developing a future validation mechanism for sustainable development.
The panel on the Economics of Water highlighted that for the first time in human history, we have breached the planetary boundaries for water. Scientists warned that the demand for water is expected to exceed supply by 40% at the end of this decade, calling for getting the pricing of water right and making water management and conservation systems sustainable.
Among the tools humanity has at its disposal to put water management back on track, speakers highlighted data, scientific knowledge, technology, and finance. They said organizing the capabilities and resources to conserve water locally and globally in a way that coordinates with efforts to fight climate change and biodiversity loss is key.
The panel on Climate, Conflict, and Cooperation warned that in light of climate change and the growing demand for water, disputes will increase unless shared water resources are managed through science-based water diplomacy. Among recommended actions, speakers highlighted preventive measures such as poverty alleviation, and improved environmental and water management. They also identified several “water gamechangers,” including the creation of a science-based validation mechanism, a global water information system, and education and capacity development to bring science and data to water policy issues.
The panel on Early Warning for Pandemic Preparedness brought together epidemiologists and researchers who stressed the need for pathogen surveillance and an open-source global early warning system that would include data from a wide range of sources and streams. Participants heard calls for “data philanthropy” by private companies sharing data for the public good and for “new logistics” of how such data are stored and shared.
The first of its kind, the event aligns with the UNGA President’s motto of ‘Solutions through Solidarity, Sustainability and Science.’ [Briefings’ Announcement] [Concept Note] [Information Note] [Briefing Video Part One] [Briefing Video Part Two]