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U.N. water conference

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Environment Conservation


Source: TH

 Context: Recently, The United Nations 2023 Water Conference was held in New York (the first such meeting on water after 46 years). Also, a mid-term review of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028)  was held at the conference.


About the Conference:

UN 2023 Water Conference Description
Theme “Our watershed moment: uniting the world for water”
Aim Support the achievement of internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Location UN Headquarters in New York
Hosts USA, Tajikistan, and the Netherlands
Background This is 2nd such water conference the first being held in 1977 in Mar de Plata, Argentina
Successful Outcomes of the Last Conference (Mar de Plata) ·        It resulted in the first global ‘Action Plan’ recognizing that “all peoples have the right to have access to drinking water in quantities and of a quality equal to their basic needs.”

·        It led to global funding and a concerted effort to provide drinking water and sanitation for all.

·        These actions substantially reduced the population without access to safe drinking water in much of the developing world.


World Water Day 22 March 2023, with the theme “Accelerating change”
SDG no. 6 for water Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all


Also, read the recently released UN World Water Development Report 2023


Outcome of the Water Conference: The Water Action Agenda contains over 700 voluntary commitments. Some of them have been given here with examples:

Outcomes Examples
India $50-billion commitment to improving rural drinking water services under its Jal Jeevan Mission.
Technology IBM Sustainability Accelerator focused on water management
Data and models World Meteorological Organisation’s Hydrological Status and Outlook System, offered data analysis tools.
Knowledge sharing W12+ Blueprint, a UNESCO platform that hosts city profiles and case studies of programs (for cross cities learning)
Capacity building ·        Making Rights Real initiative offered to help marginalised communities and women understand how to exercise their rights.

·        Water for Women Fund offered support mechanisms for more effective and sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene outcomes for women.

Civil society It pledged to create transnational networks to advocate for criminalizing the use of certain pesticides harmful to aquatic life.
Environmental, social, and corporate governance Farmers aren’t becoming more efficient or going pesticide-free unless consumers are willing to pay a premium for more sustainably produced goods.
Private Sector World Benchmarking Alliance has pledged to assess 1,000 global companies across 22 industries on their impact towards achieving water-related goals every two years.
NGOs World Vision is committed to raising and investing $2 billion by 2030 to extend the impact of transformative water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services work across 50 countries in six regions.



Issues with these commitments:

  • They are non-binding in nature.
  • The water action agenda did not include the local communities for water management.
  • The conference failed to address the violence and threats faced by communities trying to protect dwindling water sources.


Insta Links


Mains Links:

How and to what extent would micro-irrigation help in solving India’s water crisis? (UPSC 2021)


Prelims links

 On the planet Earth, most of the freshwater exists as ice caps and glaciers. Out of the remaining freshwater, the largest proportion (UPSC 2013)


(a) is found in the atmosphere as moisture and clouds

(b) is found in freshwater lakes and rivers

(c) exists as groundwater

(d) exists as soil moisture


Ans: C