UN 2023 Water Conference

How to accelerate progress towards universal access to safe water

ILO Director-General and Chair of UN Water, Gilbert F. Houngbo, has commended the adoption of the Water Action Agenda at the landmark UN 2023 Water Conference in New York. The Agenda aims to tackle the growing global water crisis by mainstreaming water issues in intergovernmental processes.

Statement | New York | 24 March 2023
As this historic event draws to a close, we can see a brighter future for water opening up.

Thanks to the UN 2023 Water Conference, we have created a bold Water Action Agenda with clear voluntary commitments that will adapt and grow to meet the challenges we face in the run up to 2030 and beyond.

In the spirit of this Conference, I wish to highlight three take-home messages:

First, the importance of cooperation across sectors, across stakeholders and across borders. I am especially encouraged to see many more countries joining the UN Water Convention. Cooperations and partnerships can guide our way towards a culture of deliberations for sustainable solutions in solidarity.

Second, the fundamental role of the human rights to drinking-water and to sanitation, as a guiding light to leave no one behind. The need for social justice demands that we act, unconditionally.

And third – like in the hummingbird tale – we all have a role to play and we can be the change we want to see.

Inclusivity is key to success. We need the youth, indigenous peoples, women, governments, the private sector, all working together in our collective Water Action Agenda, on equal terms, with equal rights.

Dear friends,

This mid-term review of the Water Action Decade has brought us together.

This week, we have demonstrated that the United Nations can bring water from ‘everywhere and nowhere’ to one place where we can all debate, reach consensus, decide on action, report on progress and learn from each other.

As a result, water can flow into all other relevant intergovernmental processes.

Because water is everyone’s business.

Now is our moment of concluding this Conference successfully. Tomorrow, we have to work hard to deliver on the voluntary commitments.

UN-Water will be there all the way. I am excited to personally engage in this process in the coming months and pledge our UN-Water family to assist in the implementation of the Water Action Agenda and in the preparation of the global follow-up and review.

In this journey together, I look forward to seeing many of you at the Water Action Agenda Special Event at HLPF.

Thank you.