Why we need a Global Pact for Water

A Global Pact for Water, backed by commitments, pledges and actions from governments, private sector and other organisations is one of the possible outcomes of the UN 2023 Water Conference.

It will direct the world to be more accountable to addressing not only water issues, but the many things we value so highly that are dependent on water – food, health, economic growth for example. A Pact will also help us get even more serious about addressing climate change.

AquaFed fully supports this and calls for all UN Member States to take action on forming the Pact. Otherwise the UN 2023 Water Conference will be nothing more than a good, earnest discussion but without a clear outcome. In the private sector, we deal with targets benchmarks and monitoring every day, so for us the Pact is a no-brainer.

There are some concerns that the process will be bureaucratic and difficult to manage. We disagree. The Sanitation and Water for All Partnership has been running a commitment-based pact for years through its Mutual Accountability Mechanism and it is working perfectly well. So the machinery is ready.

Most readers will know that the UN 2023 Water Conference is historic because there has not been anything like it for more than 40 years, if not more. It is a moment where water takes centre stage globally and it is an opportunity that cannot be wasted.

But as things stand, the only mandated outcome document of the Conference is a summary of its proceedings. This summary will feed into the high-level political forum on sustainable development in July 2023, in the context of the 2023 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This means there is no negotiated outcome document for the UN 2023 Water Conference. Some say this is a good thing – that it saves hours of negotiation time fiddling with minor text changes that are irrelevant. But that’s ok only if there is something else to replace it that is concrete - clear commitments that say what and how countries and organizations are going to make a real difference to society and the planet. Anything less will mean this conference will not have been successful.

The governments of the Netherlands and Tajikistan are driving forward the idea of the Pact and we urge all Member States to support them.

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