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UN Water Conference

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Venue: New York

Date: 22/03/2023 – 24/03/2023
Venue: New York

The UN Water Conference (UNWC)  took place in New York from 22 – 24 March 2023. It was co-hosted by the Netherlands and Tajikistan and was the first UN Water Conference in half a century. Wetlands International was at the UNWC with a focus on ensuring wetlands are included as a critical part of the water action agenda, and securing inclusive, cross–sectoral collaboration and commitments that result in transformative change on the ground.  

Wetlands play a crucial role in water purification, water storage, flood control, and groundwater recharge. In times of drought, wetlands can help regulate water availability by storing water and releasing it slowly over time. In times of heavy rainfall, wetlands can act as natural sponges, reducing flood damage downstream by absorbing and holding excess water. The loss and degradation of wetlands exacerbates water scarcity and intensifies the water crisis by reducing water quality and availability, increasing the risk of flooding and drought. 

But restoring the hydrology of wetlands can help us achieve the SDGs and alleviate the effects of both the climate crisis and the water crisis.

Our events at UNWC

Wednesday, 22 March

Special event: Radical Collaboration for Water Resilience: Action with our greatest Allies in the Climate Crisis
Time: 15:00 – 18:00 EST
Venue: UNHQ Conference Room 2 
Details: The Radical Collaboration for Water Resilience special event will showcase how new collaboration models can unlock and achieve wetland landscape resilience to the benefit of communities, ecosystems, and economies. It will inspire change by looking at the journey of water, from its physical source to its diverse values to people. 
Organisers: CEO Water Mandate / United Nations Global Compact, WWF International, Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group (IPMG), World Farmers’ Organization (WFO), Wetlands International (WI), International Women’s MG (IWMG), International Indian Treaty Council (IITC)

Thursday, 23 March

The Freshwater Challenge – Mobilizing Action to Restore Freshwater Ecosystems
Time: 8:00 – 09:15 EST
Venue: UNHQ ECOSOC room 
Details: This side event is the official ministerial launch of the Freshwater Challenge, which is a country-driven initiative that aims at leveraging the support needed to bring at least 300,000 km of rivers and 350 million hectares of inland waters under restoration globally by 2030, as a wetlands contribution to the ecosystems restoration target of the Global Biodiversity Framework. 
Organisers: Government of Colombia (Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development), Permanent Mission of the UAE to the UN, Netherlands, Tajikistan, UN Water
Partners: Wetlands International, IUCN, Ramsar 

From UNWC to COP28: Accelerating Water and Climate Action
Time: 9.30 – 10.45 EST
Venue: UNHQ ECOSOC room
Details: The event will facilitate an exchange on the link between water and climate, and identify priority action areas to be raised in the context of the first Global Stocktake, set to conclude at COP28. 
Organisers: Permanent Mission of the UAE to the UN, Netherlands, Tajikistan, UN Water

Water for Nature, Nature for Water: Solutions and Commitments for Sustainable Development and the Conservation, Restoration and Wise Management of Wetland Biodiversity
11:00 – 12:15 EST
UNHQ side event room C
Details: The side event will debate how to apply laws and customs to embed freshwater biodiversity protection in decision-making across sectors and announce game-changing commitments for the Water Action Agenda. Discussions will build on the Wuhan Declaration on wetlands, the Sharm El-Sheik Implementation Plan, and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
Lead organisation: International Association for Water Law (AIDA) 

Showcasing the power of Nature-based Solutions
15:00-17:00 EST
New York Water House
The session will discuss Nature-based Solutions for water-related projects and showcase projects where NBS provide flood protection by harnessing the power of nature and deliver additional benefits, such as nature restoration, cleaner water, and space for recreation. During the event the Coalition for Mainstreaming Nature-Based Solutions will also be launched by several organisations including Wetlands International: Read more
Organisers: EcoShape, Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Rijkswaterstaat (the executive agency of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management), World Bank, Asian Development Bank, WWF, and USACE (tbc).

Source-to-sea collaboration: A game changer for the whole water cycle
17:00 – 18:15 EST
UNHQ Side event room 8 
 This side event will explore how source-to-sea management can be used to achieve multiple Sustainable Development Goals. The event will also showcase case studies from the world where this approach has been applied in practice, showcasing lessons learned and success stories as well as barriers faced and how these have been overcome.
Organisers: Led by the Government of Greece and co-organized by the Government of Costa Rica, Action Platform for Source-to-Sea Management, Global Water Partnership, Stockholm International Water Institute, Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation, DHI,  Global Environment Facility, Japan Water Forum, NIREAS-IWRC / University of Cyprus, Ocean Sewage Alliance, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Plymouth Marine Laboratories, Swedish Agency of Marine and Water Management, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Environment Programme – Mediterranean Action Plan, Water Science Policy, Wetland International

Friday, 24 March

Economic Resilience Through Water Resilience: Managing Economies for Uncertainty and Change
Time: 12:30 – 13:45 EST
 UNHQ side event room 8 
Details: In this event, multinational development banks, financial institutions, contributions from government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector will illustrate how the water-centric approach is not only an enabler but a prerequisite, for thriving economies amid a climate-uncertain future.
  Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) Germany: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Germany: Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), United States: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States: State Department, UK: Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, Netherlands: Ministry for Infrastructure and Water, Spain: Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Asian Development Bank, Australian Water Partnership, Deltares, French Water Partnership, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), OECD, Veolia, Water Policy Group, Wetlands International, World Bank

Generational challenge in Agriculture
14:00 – 15:15 EST
 UNHQ side event room A 
This event aims to encourage the audience to engage in the perspectives of different stakeholders in water management challenges all over the world.
Organisers: International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS), World Food Forum, Wageningen University & Research, Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR), World Youth Parliament for Water, MetaMeta.


A world without wetlands is a world without freshwater