What was discussed at the UN water conference?

Context: The United Nations held its first water conference in 46 years to address the urgent need for action to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal for water.

United Nations 2023 Water Conference

  • The first UN Water Conference in almost five decades held in New York on 22-24 March, co-hosted by the Netherlands and Tajikistan
  • It focused on the urgent need for action to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for water, “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. 
  • The conference resulted in 713 voluntary commitments by philanthropic donors, governments, corporations, and NGOs, including a $50 billion commitment from India to improve rural drinking water services.
  • The conference showcased innovative technologies in wastewater treatment and proposed incubation platforms for water management.
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The Conference has five themes that support the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework: 

1. Water for Health: Access to ‘WASH’ (Global Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene) including the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation. 

2. Water for Sustainable Development: Valuing water, the water-energy-food nexus and sustainable economic and urban development. 

3. Water for Climate, Resilience and Environment: Source to sea, biodiversity, climate, resilience and disaster risk reduction

4. Water for Cooperation: Transboundary and international water cooperation, cross sectoral cooperation and water across the 2030 Agenda. 

5. Water Action Decade: Accelerating the implementation of the objectives of the Decade for Action, including through the UN Secretary-General’s Action Plan.

Why should we pay attention to the UN 2023 Water Conference?

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  • Only 1% of the earth’s surface water is accessible drinking water, while one in 10 people struggle to access it. 
  • According to the World Bank, climate change-related disasters could displace up to 216 million people from their countries by 2025
  • From India to Africa and beyond, girls and young women bear the burden of retrieving water for their families, hindering their educational development. 
  • Meanwhile, a lack of water hygiene has negative health implications – an issue prevalent in developing countries.
  • The risk of water insecurity poses a grave threat to human life and can cause mass migration across different regions.

About UN Water Conference

The first UN Water Conference was held in Argentina in 1977, was the most important water event in a generation. In particular, it resulted in the first global ‘Action Plan’ which acknowledged that the access to drinking water in sufficient quantities and of adequate quality is a fundamental human right, regardless of a person’s developmental, social, or economic circumstances. It led to several decades of global funding and concerted effort to provide drinking water and sanitation for all. The first global ‘Action Plan’ 

Other International Efforts for Water Security

  • The W12+ Blueprint, a UNESCO platform, is a tool which hosts city profiles and, technologies, and programmes addressing common water security challenges. 
  • ‘Making Rights Real’ an initiative aimed to help marginalized communities and women exercise their rights.
  • ‘Water for Women Fund’ offered mechanisms for sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene outcomes. 

UPSC Prelims 2016:

What is/are the importance/importances of the ‘United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’?

1. It aims to promote effective action through innovative national programmes and supportive international partnerships.

2. It has a special/particular focus on South Asia and North Africa regions, and its Secretariat facilitates the allocation of major portion of financial resources to these regions.

3. It is committed to bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating the desertification.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans. (c)

Mains Practice Question:

Q. In the context of the water scarcity problem, what do you think are the most effective policy interventions that can be implemented by the government to ensure equitable access to water resources while also promoting sustainable water management practices? (250 Words)

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