The Second High-Level International Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028, held on 6-9 June 2022 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, was a strong call for acceleration of efforts on water-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda. The meeting represented a milestone towards the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, to be organized on 22-24 March 2023 in New York under the leadership of Tajikistan and the Netherlands.
In her address to the meeting, UNECE Executive Secretary Ms. Olga Algayerova described key priorities identified by the Pan-European Regional Preparatory Meeting for the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, organised by UNECE in cooperation with UN-Water in April 2022. She highlighted the need for increased intersectoral cooperation, adequate attention to water in the climate debate and the urgency of increasing domestic resources and attracting additional investment to achieve SDG6. She has also stressed that the Protocol on Water and Health, jointly serviced by UNECE and WHO-Europe, provided a unique legal framework for setting and achieving national objectives on water, sanitation, climate and health in line with the SDGs.
In a session “Transboundary water cooperation for economic growth and sustainability”, co-organized by UNECE, UNESCO and the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina in partnership with the European Union, OSCE and the Swiss Development Cooperation, Ms. Algayerova underscored the importance of transboundary water cooperation for achieving the 2030 Agenda and promoting peace and regional stability. She underlined the need for greater commitment and political support in order to establish transboundary water cooperation where it does not yet exist and called to scale-up finance for cooperation and sustainable development of shared basins.
Many participants of the session shared their experiences on transboundary water cooperation, highlighting that many tools existed to assist this complex endevour. The two United Nations global water Conventions (1997 Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses and the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes) and bilateral and basin agreements and institutions were referred to as powerful tools which provided the necessary framework for sustaining dialogue and cooperation. Participants stressed the need to build on the 2023 Conference to accelerate progress on transboundary water cooperation.
The final declaration “From Dushanbe 2022 to New York 2023” summarises key messages to the United Nations 2023 Water Conference. It stresses, among others, the need for strong and coherent integration of water into national economic policies and investment programmes, highlights the importance of investing in education, science, innovation and data, and underscores the need to strengthen water-related transboundary and regional cooperation. The final declaration also includes the commitment to improve the United Nations system-wide approach to water, enhancing the participation of Member States. The declaration envisions the development of a Water Action Agenda mechanism as an outcome of the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, which would build on existing mechanisms and bring together all voluntary commitments. Participants also committed to support and encourage participation of young people in the 2023 Conference.