World Water Day Commitments and Actions
Events related to World Water Day 2023 in the activities carried out by major international organisations have revolved around the UN Water Conference. The event in New York brought together heads of state and government, ministers and stakeholders from all sectors to achieve internationally agreed goals, including Sustainable Development Goal 6 of the UN 2030 Agenda for a Fairer Future; ensuring access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for all. The events have laid the groundwork for an action plan with nearly 700 commitments to protect “humanity’s most precious global common good”.
Water will be at the centre of the World Political Agenda
During the conference proceedings, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed the need to put water at the centre of the global political agenda: “Our hopes depend on innovative and action-oriented commitments to make water and sanitation available to all the world’s people in a safe and sustainable way,” he said at the closing event.
The commitments made during the events cover a wide range of actions, explained Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Li Junhua, “from capacity building to data and monitoring systems to improving the resilience of infrastructure.
Progress from this conference will be reviewed during high-level political meetings in July 2023, and is expected to feature prominently at the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in September.
UNESCO’s role in the democratisation of water
In her official message on World Water Day, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay stressed the urgency of “working to ensure access to water and sanitation for all people, all the more urgent as the consequences of climate change are already being felt and threaten to exacerbate droughts and water scarcity, as well as the magnitude and frequency of floods”.
In her speech, Azoulay also highlighted that the UN World Water Development Report, coordinated by UNESCO focuses this year on the need for international cooperation in adopting a multidisciplinary approach to the problem, combining different perspectives and actions. One of these would be the inclusion of women and indigenous communities in the sustainable management of water resources.
He also recalled that water, whose cycle is planetary, defies human boundaries and it is therefore imperative to treat water as a vital and common good of humanity.
OMS and the need for international leadership
For his part, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation in his opening address on 23 March 2023 emphasised the right to health, closely linked to those included in SDG6, clean water and sanitation. He highlighted in his speech the call for “stronger government leadership to drive change; increased resources and financing; investment in people and institutions; better data and evidence to guide decisions; and innovation and experimentation”.
Accelerating change: a slogan with a legendary history
The theme of this World Water Day 2023, “Accelerating Change” takes its inspiration from an ancient Quechua fable in which a hummingbird carries drops of water to extinguish a great fire while the rest of the animals flee in terror.
“One day a fire broke out in the forest
and all the animals fled in terror.
But after they had reached safety, they stood staring at the flames in terror and sadness.
Above their heads, a hummingbird flew back and forth from the fire, again and again.
The larger animals asked the hummingbird what it was doing.
-I’m flying to the lake to get water to help put out the flames.
The animals laughed and exclaimed:
-You can’t put out the fire by yourself!
-True,” replied the hummingbird, “but I am doing my bit.
The moral of this story is clear: every action we take, no matter how small, will contribute to solving the water crisis.
The website developed by the UN Water Division (https://www.unwater.org/bethechange/es ) reflects this beautiful story and invites you to make a list of actions as part of your individual commitment to solve the water and sanitation crisis, such as
Consume local products
Dispose of waste safely