Pressure on water resources around the world is increasing due to the rapidly growing demand for them and climate change. Sustainable management and rational use of water resources could reduce this pressure somewhat, but measures to improve existing practices lag far behind. Meeting the water needs of a growing population is mostly related to the need for water for food production, as well as access to safe water and sanitation, which is increasingly recognized as an essential element of human capital influencing health, which has become especially evident in connection with the spread of COVID-19. The shortage of clean drinking water is today’s challenge for the entire population of the planet – it is not just a physical shortage of water, but a combination of factors such as a “business approach” in the use and management of water resources and water pollution, which undermine efforts to eradicate poverty, pose a threat to human well–being, economic growth and national security. In addition, water security is acutely affected by climate change, which increases the variability of the hydrological cycle, causing extreme weather processes (floods, droughts), variable precipitation regimes, and mudflows, while reducing the predictability of water availability and its quality, threatening social, economic and ecological achievements worldwide, as well as adversely affecting demographic and migration processes.
Nowadays, the availability of freshwater resources per capita is significantly reduced. Over the past four decades, this figure has decreased by one-third. According to the United Nations world water development report 2018, the number of people who will live annually in water-scarce areas for a whole month will grow from 3.6 billion today to 4.8 — 5.7 billion people out of the nine billion population of Earth in 2050. At the same time, the number of people living in flood-risk areas will grow from 1.2 billion to 1.6 billion.
The depletion and degradation of freshwater reserves caused by population growth and its mobility, the impact of economic growth, changes in lifestyle, unstable production, and consumption can be reversed only through the implementation of targeted and comprehensive measures. Water resources and services are threatened by the lack of appropriate water institutions, inadequate capacity and lack of investment, complicated jurisdiction, overlapping functions, fragmented institutional structures, lack of transparency and adequate accountability, as well as the lack of necessary gray and green infrastructure. Solving the problem of weak and inefficient water resources management is the main priority. Despite the significant progress made in water science and technology over the past 30 years, the development of the capacity to implement these solutions, especially in developing countries, is lagging far behind.
Water is a powerful tool for cooperation and dialogue in achieving sustainable development and ensuring safe, viable communities. Effective, comprehensive, and coordinated actions supported by strong political will are still demanded. All stakeholders should be included in this process, including Governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, and scientific communities. At the same time, special attention should be paid to the living conditions of the poor and vulnerable segments of the population, leaving no one behind.
Today, humanity is experiencing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this leads to the need to rethink the value of water, because water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are becoming important factors in overcoming threats to human health. In his report “Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19”, the UN Secretary-General reminds us that 50 percent of the rural population and more than 20 percent of the urban population of the planet are not officially covered by medical care, while 2.2 billion people do not have access to water and 4.2 billion people to basic sanitary conditions, which deprives people of the opportunity to wash their hands, and this is the main and most effective measure against many viral and transmitted diseases. The pandemic urgently requires sustainable access to basic hand-washing for 40 percent of the world’s population, who do not have access to water and sanitation and are the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population.
To fill the gap and achieve results, the United Nations has launched the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework. The framework document emphasizes that there are many examples in the world that confirm the possibility of achieving amazing results, and some solutions are not expensive and are effective, and can be quickly implemented. The framework program is aimed at achieving rapid results on the scale of increments. Coordinated by UN-Water, the program is conditioned by a country request and is designed to unite the efforts of the international community in support of countries on the way to achieving SDG6. Action is provided by five accelerators: financing, data and information, capacity building, innovation, and governance.
Water Action Decade and the Dushanbe Water Process
In December 2016, the UN General Assembly declared the period of 2018-2028 as the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028”, which is aimed at supporting sustainable development and integrated water resources management, promoting cooperation and partnership in support of achieving internationally agreed goals and objectives in the field of water resources, including the goals and objectives of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable development.
The UN Secretary General’s Action Plan for the implementation of the goals of the Water Action Decade was announced at the high-level event by the President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly on 22 March 2018. This plan defines the current and potential activities of the UN system and international organizations, and also plans operational measures to support Member States in the implementation of the Water Action Decade.
In this regard, the Government of Tajikistan committed to continuing efforts to provide a platform for dialogue on policy, partnership, and action in the field of water resources at the global, regional, and national levels, is holding high-level conferences with the support of the UN and other partners as part of the implementation of the Decade. A series of these events is the “Dushanbe Water Process”. As part of this process, two High-level International Conferences were held in Dushanbe. The first High-level International Conference on the Implementation of the Goals of the International Action Decade “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028 was held on 20-21 June 2018 in Dushanbe. The Second High-level International Conference on the Implementation of the Goals of the International Action Decade “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028 was held on 6-9 June 2022.
The Dushanbe Conferences on the implementation of the Water Action Decade provided a unique platform for highlighting and consolidating the necessary information on water and focusing on how national governments, the UN and its agencies, other international and regional organizations, international financial institutions, the private sector, civil society, scientific communities, local communities and authorities, and other stakeholders can stimulate actions and partnerships in the field of water resources to contribute at all levels to the implementation of goals and objectives, related to water resources, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
High-level International Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028
The High-Level International Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028, organized by the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan with the support of the United Nations, was held on 20-22 June 2018 in Dushanbe, the Republic of Tajikistan.
Under the topic “Advancing action and political dialogue”, the Conference discussed ways in which United Nations Member States, other international and regional organizations, international financial institutions, the private sector, as well as civil society and other stakeholders, can contribute to the Decade and support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development.
High-level delegations and representatives from 120 countries, including Heads of States and Governments, deputy prime ministers, ministers and deputy ministers, ambassadors, permanent representatives to the United Nations and special envoys, representatives of 46 international and regional organizations such as the United Nations and its specialized agencies and programs as well as representatives of local governments, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and the private sector attended the Conference. The Conference brought together more than 1,500 people in a two-day discussion of one of the most pressing issues and ambitious goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This conference consisted of an opening ceremony at the level of Heads of States and governments, a plenary session at which all Heads of official delegations were invited to make statements, panels on specific topics, pre-conference, and side events.
During the opening ceremony of the Conference, nine speakers at the level of Heads of States and governments, heads of international organizations, and shared their views and opinions on various issues at the global, regional and national levels. In his speech, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan H.E. Mr. Emomali Rahmon stressed the need to mobilize and address water-related issues at all levels. He announced the intention of Tajikistan to convene this conference every two years and establish an International Center in Dushanbe as a contribution to the implementation of the Water Action Decade.
At the opening ceremony of the Conference, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs H.E. Mr. Liu Zhenmin, President of Turkmenistan H.E. Mr. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan H.E. Mr. Mamnoon Hussain, Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan H.E. Mr. Abdullah Abdullah, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia H.E. Mr. Cyril Müller, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations and President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council H.E. Ms. Marie Chatardova, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Chairperson of UN-Water H.E. Mr. Gilbert Houngbo and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition movement H.E. Ms. Gerda Werburg. A video presentation by E.P. Mr. Miroslav Lajcak, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic and President of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly. The ceremony was moderated by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan and Chairman of the National Organizing Committee of the Conference H.E. Mr. Kokhir Rasulzoda.
Plenary session: Mobilization of measures for sustainable development in the field of water resources
This session was held during both days of the conference and provided an opportunity for all heads of official delegations to make statements. It was opened with the keynote report on the SDG 6 Water and Sanitation Synthesis Report. The key message was that the world is not on track to achieve SDG 6, especially with regard to safe drinking water and sanitation. Some analytical thoughts were provided on the most relevant issues. This presentation was followed by reports from four pre-conference events held the previous day: Women’s Water Forum, Children’s Water Forum, Water and Science for a Sustainable Future Forum; Dialogue on Water and Climate. Several high-level representatives expressed their support and strong interest in transforming (renaming) the Dushanbe conferences into the “Dushanbe Process” on the Water Action Decade and in establishing the International Center for the Water Decade of Action in Dushanbe aimed at supporting the implementation of the Decade, including organizing conferences on the Water Decade once in two years.
The main discussions within the Conference continued within the framework of twelve Action Panels under the general theme of the conference “Advancing Action and Policy Dialogue”. They were jointly organized by various entities of the United Nations and other international organizations and development partners. They focused on issues that are important for the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028, including:
Action Panel 1.1 on Drinking Water and Sanitation
Action Panel 1.2 on Integrated Water Resources Management, Water Efficiency and Productivity
Action Panel 1.3 on Water Quality and Ecosystems
Action panel 2.1 on capacity building, including improving knowledge and education
Action Panel 2.2 on Communication, Outreach and Engagement on Water Issues
Action panel 2.3 on action-oriented water partnerships
Action panel 3.1 on water, food, energy and environment nexus
Action Panel 3.2 on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction
Action Panel 3.3 on Water Resilience in Cities and Human Settlements
Action Panel 4.1 on Financing, Investment and Sustainable Infrastructure
Action Panel 4.2 on Transboundary Cooperation and Water Diplomacy
Action panel 4.3 on water for vulnerable people, including refugees and migrants
Six side events were organized by global, regional and national stakeholders. These events created an additional platform for a broader discussion of various water-related issues and priority themes of the Conference:
- Side event 1: Promoting innovation in the water sector and agriculture for small farmers;
- Side Event 2: At-Large Committee Meeting of the “Student Research Competition Project on Sustainable Management of Natural Resource in Central Asia and Afghanistan”;
- Side Event 3: Young Water Professionals;
- Side event 4: Migration in the century of depleted water resources;
- Side event 5: Implementation of water sector reform in the Republic of Tajikistan;
- Side Event 6: Public Dialogue for the SDG 6 Synthesis Report 2018.
An important event of the Conference was the International Exhibition “Water for Sustainable Development”, where organizations demonstrated their experience at the international, regional and national levels.
On the final day of the Conference, the National Organizing Committee organized excursions for the participants to the Nurek HPP, Rogun HPP, Gissar Fortress and Lake Sarez to explore possible solutions to water problems, as well as learn more about the history and feel the friendly location of the Republic of Tajikistan.
The conference was widely covered by the media, including through social networks. Millions of people in Tajikistan and beyond could follow this important international event, get the information they need, be aware of the global water agenda and, to some extent, become a part of it.
The High-Level International Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028, has prepared three outcome documents: the Co-Chairs Summary, the Final Declaration, unanimously adopted by representatives of participating States and organizations, and the Call for Action and Partnership, which was prepared by the Conference Secretariat on the basis of the work of the conference. The Final Declaration and the Call for Action and Partnership are attached to this document.
The Final Declaration contains key messages, important conclusions and recommendations. The Final Declaration calls on Member States and other stakeholders in particular to increase investment in water and its efficiency, restore inequalities in access and ensure universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation to address water-related challenges by increasing the amount of investment. It also notes the intention of the Government of Tajikistan to hold conferences on the implementation of the Water Action Decade every two years and continue to organize them in an open and inclusive manner and invite all Member States, the United Nations, including UN-Water, as well as other stakeholders to actively participate in the Dushanbe process.
The Call for Action and Partnership contains all the initiatives that were proposed at this Conference as a contribution to the implementation of the Water Action Decade at all levels. This document aims to take stock of the actions and partnerships of the Decade and to contribute to their follow-up. It also contains a proposal to establish an International Center for the Water Decade of Action in Dushanbe, as well as the idea of creating a register of actions and partnerships that contribute to the achievement of the goals of the Decade, starting with those included in the document.
The Second International High-Level Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028.
The Second High-Level International Conference on the International Decade of Action “Water for Sustainable Development” 2018-2028, entitled “Catalyzing water action and partnership at the local, national, regional and global levels ” was held from 6 to 9 June 2022 in Dushanbe. The conference represented a unique opportunity to bring together world leaders and experts in water resources management to discuss water challenges and opportunities.
The conference was co-chaired by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan and the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.
The conference aimed to identify key issues related to water management, develop strategies to improve access to safe drinking water and strengthen cooperation among governments, organizations, stakeholders and communities for sustainable development. Conference participants also explored ways to encourage public participation in local decision-making processes related to water management.
The Second Dushanbe Conference on the Implementation of the Decade of Action focused on how governments, the UN and its agencies, international and regional organizations, international financial institutions, the private sector, civil society, academia, local communities, authorities, and other stakeholders participants can stimulate action and partnerships in the field of water to contribute at all levels to the achievement of water-related goals and targets.
More than 2,600 people from 75 countries, 634 national, regional and international organizations, and more than 500 people participated in the Second High-Level International Conference on the International Decade of Action, “Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028”, and expressed their views on the issues.
The Conference Program included opening and closing ceremonies, a plenary session, a number of thematic and interactive panels, special forums for regional and major groups, side events, cultural events including an exhibition, tours, a water festival, and a Press Conference.
According to the program of the Second High-Level Water Conference on the International Decade of Action, Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028, five different forums were held on 6 June 2022, which included:
– “Forum on Regional Water Cooperation in Central Asia”.
Organizers: Executive Committee of IFAS and World Bank in partnership with CAWEP, European Union, Switzerland, USAID, GIZ and RECCA;
Objective: to provide an opportunity to demonstrate further efforts on water coordination in Central Asia;
– “Women Water Forum: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: Water Unites Us”
Organized by: Royal Academy of Sciences for International Trust (RASIT) in cooperation with OSCE;
Objective: to provide an opportunity for reflection: to strengthen existing partnerships and create new ones.
-Youth and Children’s Water Forum
Organized by: UNICEF together with EC IFAS, MEWR, WMO, CYS, WYN, WYPW, CAY4W;
Purpose: To mobilize children and youth from Tajikistan and around the world by giving them a platform to influence access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for life and future.939121563
– “Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Forum: Inclusive Approaches to Water in Ecosystems, Land, Agriculture and Knowledge Development,” serving as a platform for indigenous peoples to discuss better water and land management to protect vital ecosystems and the importance of water security.
–Water and Mountains Toward Sustainable Development,‖ aimed at highlighting the limits of opportunities and gaps in research, education in the mountains, cryosphere and water sector.
The first Dushanbe Water Festival was held on 6 June 2022 in the capital’s Navruzgoh Park of Culture and Recreation. The main goal of this festival was to increase public awareness about the value of water as a vital resource, the careful attitude to water and its conservation for future generations, as well as attract the attention of the world community to the UN 2023 Water Conference, which will be held in 2023 under the chairmanship of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The Dushanbe Water Festival included five components: an exhibition of traditional crafts and art, an exhibition of dishes from Tajikistan and other countries, an exhibition of different kinds of drinking water, a concert program with the leading masters of art from the country, a fashion show of Tajik national costumes and other show programs.
The official opening ceremony of the Second International High-Level Conference on the International Decade of Action “Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028” was held on 7 June 2022 with the participation of the Founder of Peace and National Unity, the Leader of the Nation, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, the H.E. Emomali Rahmon.
The opening ceremony was also attended and addressed by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General Amina Muhammad, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations Collen Vixen Kelapile, UN Under-Secretary-General for Water Resources 2023 and Co-Chair of the Second Dushanbe Conference Liu Zhenmin, First Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan Muhammadguly Muhammadov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shuhrat Ganiev, EU Commissioner for the Environment Sinkevičius Virginijus, Vice President of the Asian Development Bank Shixin Chen, Vice President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Mark Bowman, World Bank Director for Global Water Resources Jennifer Sarah, Australian athlete Mina Ghuli and Chadian youth representative Dionnon Bienvinou.
On 8 June 2022, the interactive and thematic panels and the Plenary Session on “Catalyzing Water Action and Partnership at the Local, National, Regional and Global Level” were continued. This conference featured 12 panels that focused on specific water-related actions:
- Three Thematic Panels on the Role of Water for Public Health (WHP);
- Three thematic panels on the role of water in livelihoods and inclusive economic growth (WEG);
- Three thematic panels on water, environment and climate resilience (WEC);
- Three interactive panels on Education, Technology, Awareness and Knowledge (ETAK);
The results of the panels were presented in the final session and reflected in the conference outcome document, the Dushanbe Declaration.
On the evening of 8 June 2022, a Closing Ceremony was held. During the closing ceremony, the reports on the results of the forums, thematic and interactive panels were heard and the final document of the Conference – Dushanbe Declaration was reviewed and adopted, which contains a number of useful recommendations and decisions aimed at the successful and timely implementation of the goals and objectives of the Decade of Action, including the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Second High-Level Dushanbe Conference on the International Decade of Action, Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028, produced three outcome documents:
- Co-Chairs’ Summary;
- Final Declaration “From Dushanbe 2022 to New York 2023.”
- A Call for Action and Partnership;
The final declaration reflects the key messages from the preparatory process, forums, and panels, as well as a number of important conclusions and recommendations. In particular, this document highlights the main challenges ahead and recalls the key tools available to address them. The Final Declaration selects some of these tools as key messages for the UN 2023 Water Conference. The Call for Action and Partnership contains initiatives that were proposed during this conference as a contribution to the implementation of the Decade of Action for Water at all levels.
On 9 June 2022, a tour was organized for participants, guests, and stakeholders of the Second International High-Level Conference on the International Decade of Action “Water for Sustainable Development” The participants and guests of the conference had the opportunity to get acquainted with the policy and practice of the country in the field of water resources, as well as with the tourism potential of the country rich in nature, history and culture of the Tajik people:
- Dushanbe, (visiting Kokhi Navruz, National Museum of Tajikistan, National Flag Park)
- Gissar city (city tour, visit to “Melon” teahouse, Gissar fortress, Shar-shara recreation area)
- Nurek (city tour, visit to Nurek HPP)
- Varzob (Varzob Gorge, Kokhi Malika complex)
- Rogun (city tour, visit to Rogun HPP)
Within the framework of the Second Dushanbe Conference participants and guests took part in the exhibition “Virtual reality” on the theme “Tajikistan’s water experience” and got acquainted with Tajikistan’s water resources and global initiatives of the country related to water.
By hosting the event, Dushanbe demonstrated its commitment to water conservation efforts and to addressing global water challenges.
It is expected that the outcomes of the Second Dushanbe Conference will make a significant contribution to the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, to be co-chaired by the Republic of Tajikistan and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.