UN Water Conference: challenging world leaders for a water just action agenda

Article: 15.03.23, Amsterdam

The UN Water Conference (UNWC) in New York will take place from the 22nd to the 24th of March 2023. It is the first of its kind in 45 years and the co-hosts – the government of the Netherlands and the government of Tajikistan – have set big ambitions to make it a true watershed moment.

The outcome of the UNWC will be a Water Action Agenda, a compilation of voluntary commitments by different stakeholders such as States, private sector actors, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Conference as momentum of change

Simavi is joining the UN Water Conference with partners to challenge world leaders to make this conference a momentum of change by advocating for a water just action agenda. We will attend the interactive dialogues, plenary discussions, special and side-events to the Conference, to push for an accountability mechanism on international commitments, inclusive and targeted funding for gender-responsive WASH and locally-lead adaptation reaching marginalised groups, and stricter donor regulations to ensure their operations impacting water and sanitation comply with human rights.

In addition to supporting other civil society initiatives, we are also joining the international community in submitting a Water Action Agenda commitment on the Simavi Water Justice Fund

And we will be co-organising several side events.

Want to learn more about how Simavi challenges world leaders to make bold commitments that focus on gender equality, human rights and climate, making the UN Water Conference a “watershed moment” for everyone everywhere? Download our position paper on water justice. 

Joining together with partners

With funding from RVO, we are supporting the participation of our in-country partners. We will be traveling to New York with Yunia Yiga Musaazi from the Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET) and Patrick Alubbe from the Kenya Water for Health Organization (KWAHO), Mercy Amokwandoh from Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), and Zobair Hasan from DORP

What will we be doing?

In partnership with UN Member States, international and local NGOs, and networks, we are co-organising several side-events on our priority themes:

Tuesday | Where’s the accountability? Financing accountability – civil society and system strengthening

Representatives of government, civil society, private sector and donors will be discussing how to finance accountability for accelerated systemic improvements in WASH service delivery and water resources management, and how to ensure the UN conference commitments are delivered.

This event is part of the official New York City Water Week that will be held from the 18th of March to the 24th.

When: Tuesday 21 March, 16:30 EST
Where: Dylan Hotel, 52 E 41st St, New York.

Thursday | Hearing the Unheard, Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Side

In partnership with End Water Poverty, UN OHCHR, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, and others, Simavi is a co-organiser of the side event “Hearing the Unheard, Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Side”.

This side event will foreground representatives from marginalised groups, who usually do not have the opportunity to speak and be listened to in international forums or national meetings. A digital campaign #HearingTheUnheardHRWS is ongoing to amplify the call for global action to HRWS for the vulnerable groups

When: Thursday 23 March, 15:00 (EST)
Where: Church Centre

Thursday | Gender equality, youth and climate Achieving SDG 6 through (1) a gender lens on climate change & youth and (2) global goals for menstrual health & hygiene

Simavi is also co-organising two other sessions: one lead by Plan, that will address gender equality, youth, and climate. More information can be found via the website of Plan International. 

When: Thursday 23 March, 15:30-16:45
Where: UN Headquarters, room C.

Thursday | How to make the water action agenda gender transformative: connecting policy, practice, and research

Simavi will organise the side-event “How to make the water action agenda gender transformative: connecting policy, practice, and research”, co-organised with the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment, African Civil Society Network for Water and Sanitation (ANEW), Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), government of the Netherlands, Uganda Water and Sanitation Network (UWASNET), and Water Integrity Network (WIN).

Women and minority groups are still under-represented in all levels of decision-making about water despite the fact that they are key to managing water resources and to delivering sustainable and appropriate water services, with their unique knowledge, networks, and needs. 

How can we harness and address these different lived experiences of women towards a water secure world for all? How can we engage men as well as those with decision-making power in gender transformative change? This session will discuss in-depth solutions and lessons learned from policy, practice, and research perspectives, showcasing the interplay between gender, social inclusion, unequal power relations, and water and sanitation issues. Concrete recommendations for transformative WASH services will be suggested and discussed

When: Thursday 23 March, 18:30-19:45 (EST)
Where: UN Headquarters, room B.

Friday | Water Action and Human Rights – Implementing the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation to Improve Services at the Local Level

As a consortium partner of Make Rights Real, Simavi is also involved in the side event “Water Action and Human Rights – Implementing the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation to Improve Services at the Local Level” lead by WASH United. More information on the side-event and co-organising partners can be read by downloading the concept note via the button. 

This side event will showcase voices from local government institutions and local communities in order to show how the human rights to water and sanitation are already being used, to draw lessons for the practical application of rights at the local level and identify ways national governments and the international community can support the practical realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation. During this side event, a video from the mayor of Kalaroa in Bangladesh will be shown. The mayor works with Simavi and partners in the WASH SDG WAI sub-programme in Bangladesh.

When: 24 March 2023, 13:00-15:00 (EST)
Where: Auditorium of the German House.
Registration is on invitation, please reach out if you are interested in joining

Bangladeshi mayor that was interviewed by Simavi partner Uttaran

Friday | Launch MoFA Campaign (more information to follow)

When: Friday 24th of March 13.30 (EST)

We hope you will join us on taking action on a water just agenda, be it in person during the UN Water Conference, online or throughout the year.

Esther Oeganda

Everbody has the human right to safe water and sanitation.

Take action