World leaders, representatives of various governments, members of the diplomatic corps, civil society groups, private sector among other stakeholders congregated in New York on 22nd to 24 March for the first UN water conference in a generation, the UN 2023 Water Conference, co-hosted by the Governments of Tajikistan and the Netherlands. The conference coincided with the 2023 World Water Day and the New York Water Week which were held concurrently to amplify the voice of stakeholders towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6.
The Kenya Innovative Finance Facility for Water (KIFFWA) having been accredited by the UN to attend the conference, was represented by Susan Mudhune, Chair – KIFFWA Foundation, and Duncan Onyango, Executive Chairman – KIFFWA Limited.
Highlights of the UN Water Conference
Not only was the conference a golden opportunity for water stakeholders around the world to put their heads together to fast-track corrective actions towards achieving SDG 6 but it also enabled stakeholders to commit towards ensuring that all people have access clean water.
The key take-aways from the conference were: –
- Water crisis cuts across other multi-sectorial crises especially, food crisis, energy crisis, biodiversity crisis and climate change crisis.
- Conflicts among nations are arising as a result of water boundaries.
- There were conversations on the funding gaps and how to catalyze private capital for water to supplement government funding which over time has been inadequate.
- Partnerships are key especially among private capital providers to bridge the funding gap in the water sector.
- Women and the youth are the most affected in the event of water scarcity and water-related conflicts.
- Data availability is critical for right indicators, transformative governance, to make right investment decisions.
- While the returns are huge the costs of delay are also high. Failure to secure water resources in the face of increasingly severe floods, droughts and storms made worse by the climate crisis could jeopardise water dependent economic sectors like energy, agriculture, textiles and tourism. Combined business value at risk from water issues is at least US$ 425 billion.
Photo courtesy of UN Water
Call to action
In the closing session, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres thanked everyone for their commitment to #WaterAction, noting that, “The commitments at this Conference will propel humanity towards the water-secure future every person on the planet need.” He emphasized that water is for health, for peace, for sustainable development, and that’s why water needs to be at the centre of the global political agenda.
In conclusion, the conference summarized five interactive dialogues of not only what water is but what it can be – a driver of equality, a solution to the climate crisis, a facilitator of peace among other things.
As one of the leading organizations in water, KIFFWA supports the commitments made by the stakeholders at the 2023 UN Water Conference especially that which the Kenyan Government championed for at the same conference. We commit to use our available resources to ensure that the government’s agenda of ensuring clean and safe water for all is achieved by the year 2030. We look forward to partnering with public and private sector water stakeholders to see SDG 6 coming to fruition.
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