19 July 2018: During a briefing on the outcomes of the High-Level International Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028, representatives from UN Member States, international organizations and civil society organizations learned that plans are underway for subsequent meetings – the “Dushanbe process” – to follow up on the June 2018 meeting.

The briefing took place at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 19 July 2018, and was organized by the Permanent Missions of Tajikistan, Egypt, the Russian Federation, Canada and Thailand, as well as the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Bank and the Finance Center for South-South Cooperation. The conference took place in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, from 20-21 June 2018.

Mahmadamin Mahmadaminov, Permanent Representative of Tajikistan to the UN, moderated the event. Sulton Rahimzoda, First Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Tajikistan, presented the outcomes of the conference, which, he said, sought to raise awareness of SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and to identify ways to move forward on the action plan for the international water decade. He said 1,500 participants attended the conference, with representatives from 110 countries. Panels discussed issues ranging from drinking water and sanitation to vulnerable peoples, refugees and migrants, climate change and disaster risk reduction (DRR), and the food, energy and environment nexus.

The event resulted in three outcome documents: a co-chairs’ summary; a call for action and partnership; and a final declaration titled, ‘Promoting action and policy dialogue.’ Rahimzoda said the co-chairs’ summary outlines the discussions during the event, and contains a synthesis of the outcomes of the main sessions. He said the call for action and partnership contains initiatives that were proposed during the conference, takes stock of actions and partnerships for the international decade, and calls on UN Member States and stakeholders to contribute to the implementation of the decade. He told participants that the call for action and partnership will provide a guideline for future Dushanbe conferences, and stated that Tajikistan will host this meeting on a biennial basis during the international decade – to be referred to as the “Dushanbe process” – to monitor implementation of commitments taken during the meeting. He reported that the final declaration calls for increasing water-related investment and efficiency, reducing inequalities in access, and ensuring the affordability of safe drinking water and sanitation services for all.

Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, DESA, highlighted that the conference provided a platform for developing recommendations for discussion at the 2018 session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) as well as the first opportunity to undertake a dialogue on the UN Secretary-General’s action plan during the decade.

Tajikistan will host biennial conferences under the “Dushanbe process” during the international water decade.

Mohamed Edrees, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the UN, highlighted that the Dushanbe event is part of an ongoing process, and said the international decade for action will provide a valuable platform for cooperation at various levels. He noted that the Conference discussed, inter alia: the importance of riparian cooperation; the role of the private sector, exchange of information and data sharing; and the importance of capacity building and developing national institutions.

Vitayas Srivihok, Permanent Mission of Thailand, emphasized the need for innovative solutions and stressed the importance of partnership.

Louise Blaise, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN, said water management must be a source for peace, and that the global community must do more, with women at the forefront.

Sergey Kononuchenko, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, said the outcome from the Conference is balanced, and highlighted his country’s focus on cooperation on transboundary rivers and lakes, among other issues.

Marie Paule Roudil, Director, UNESCO Office in New York, highlighted the need for data and new partnerships.

Vladimir Smakhtin, Director of UN University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), on behalf of UN-Water Chair Gilbert Houngbo, highlighted that UN-Water is hosting the website for the international decade and invited all to include their decade-related information in the platform.

Additional speakers representing the Finance Center for South-South Cooperation, the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity of Ethiopia, the Ministry of Planning and Development of Trinidad and Tobago and the Ministry of Development Planning of Indonesia emphasized the importance of partnerships and cooperation to address water issues.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that a children’s water forum took place prior to the Dushanbe Conference, giving Tajik children the chance to discuss water issues. She stressed that 43% of children under age five are not achieving their cognitive capacity, and need safe, clean water, good hygiene and sanitation. The World Bank recalled that the High-Level Panel on Water had concluded that “we need to understand the importance of the water we have, so we need to invest in data.” [Conference website] [Co-chairs’ Summary] [Declaration] [SDG Knowledge Hub sources]