28 January 2020
UN-Water Deliberates Form and Function of Forthcoming High-level Events
Photo credit: Lynn Wagner
story highlights

An informal dialogue on options for high-level events in 2021 and 2023 will inform the January discussions at the UN-Water meeting.

Participants at the dialogue suggested that the 2023 Conference should cut across all sectors with an emphasis on interlinkages, and stressed the importance of the 2021 high-level meeting for preparing for the 2023 Conference, among other ideas.

The 32nd UN-Water meeting will gather UN-Water Members and Partners to discuss the process for shaping high-level events in 2021 and 2023. Participants will also consider how to raise the profile of work addressing global water and sanitation challenges. 

Deliberations during the UN-Water meeting, which is taking place in Rome, Italy, from 28-29 January 2020, will consider the outcomes from a side event held at UN Headquarters in New York, US that discussed the preparatory process for the UN Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018–2028. This Conference will be held from 22-24 March 2023. The side event also considered possible agenda items for a one-day high-level event to be convened by the President of the UN General Assembly in 2021.

Discussions during the side event, were opened by Gilbert Houngbo, Chair of UN-Water and President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, highlighted that the Conference in 2023 would be the first such conference on water since 1977. Madhushree Chatterjee, UN-Water Secretary, said the 2023 Conference would be preceded by regional and global preparatory meetings and would be informed by existing water-related meetings at the regional and global level.

During an informal dialogue, participants suggested that the 2023 Conference should cut across all sectors with an emphasis on interlinkages, and should also draw on relevant processes such as Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the High-Level Political Forum. Speakers suggested that the event must be the next “Mar Del Plata” for water, and the international community should build momentum for the 2023 Conference. Speakers also stressed the importance of the 2021 high-level meeting for preparing for the 2023 Conference. 

Proposals discussed during the side event included the recommendation that two co-facilitator countries be assigned to guide the process, and that they be selected in a transparent manner. Upcoming events that could provide an opportunity to prepare include the second Dushanbe Conference scheduled to take place from 18-20 June 2020, and the third Dushanbe conference, in 2022. Regional meetings and a number of other options for preparatory events were also discussed. Speakers also suggested that the evidence base could be updated, with coordination by UN-Water, by following up on the SDG 6 Synthesis Report on Water and Sanitation.

In addition to contributing to the planning for the 2021 and 2023 meetings, the 32nd UN-Water meeting will discuss agenda items including:

  • Way forward to accelerate progress on SDG 6 implementation; 
  • Update on the 2020 country level coordination work; 
  • Update on the UN-Water Analytical Brief on Unconventional Water Resources;
  • Discussion on the draft UN-Water 2030 Strategy; and 
  • Approval of the UN-Water Work Programme 2020-2021. 

UN-Water plays a coordinating role within the UN, to ensure that the UN family “delivers as one” in response to water-related challenges. 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; efforts to monitor and report; and efforts to inspire action. [SDG Knowledge Hub sources] [SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of the 32nd UN-Water Meeting] [UN-Water website]  

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