United Nations Conference on the midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the goals of the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development” 2018-2028. (UN 2023 Water Conference) was held from 22 to 24 March 2023 at the UN Headquarters in New York under the co-chairmanship of the Founder of Peace and National Unity – Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.
The UN Water Conference, which was held for the first time in the last 50 years, was a unique platform for increasing the value of water, voicing voluntary commitments, taking joint measures to manage water wisely, attracting financing and offering effective solutions to achieve water-related goals and objectives and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Conference included opening and closing ceremonies, 6 plenary sessions, 5 interactive dialogues, 2 leadership segments, 4 special events, 500 additional events, New York Water Week, RUN BLUE Marathon, as well as cultural events.
The Conference was attended by about 10,000 participants, including world leaders, civil society, business leaders, youth, scientists, financial institutions, academia, governmental and non-governmental organizations, UN institutions, and others.
The Water Action Agenda, the key outcome document of the Conference, covered more than 700 commitments aimed at moving from the global water crisis to the world, with a guarantee of water safety. The Agenda represents the bold determination of the world community to solve water problems through a more coordinated and results-oriented approach.
The Republic of Tajikistan, as the initiator of the Decade of Action “Water for Sustainable Development” 2018-2028 and co-chair of the UN 2023 Water Conference was able to demonstrate itself in the international arena not only as a leading state in promoting water and climate issues but also had the opportunity to familiarize the world community with the ancient and rich culture of the Tajik people.
Taking advantage of the unique opportunity of the historic UN Water Conference, the Government of the country held a number of important thematic, cultural, and entertainment events, including the Meeting of the IAC of the Dushanbe Water Process, the exhibition “Tajikistan’s development story”, the International Celebration “Navruz”, the official dinner “Water unites us” together with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Side- event dedicated to the International Year of Glaciers’ Preservation, a high-level event “Central Asia: Commitments to Water Action Agenda” and others.
The meeting of the International Advisory Committee (IAC) of the Dushanbe Water Process was held on the eve of the UN Conference on 21 March 2023. Within the framework of the meeting, the diversification of the IAC composition, updating the IAC terms of reference, taking into account the lessons learned from the experience of previous international conferences within the framework of the Dushanbe Water Process, as well as the next steps of the IAC regarding preparations for the next conference of the Decade, which is scheduled to be held in Dushanbe in 2024, were discussed.
The exhibition “Tajikistan’s development story” was held on 21 March 2023 at the UN headquarters. The participants of the exhibition were given the opportunity to get acquainted with the history of Tajikistan from ancient and medieval times to the modern period. Pictures and short videos served as a visual demonstration of the history of relations between Tajikistan and the UN. Visitors of the exhibition with the help of the latest technologies had the opportunity to enjoy the natural landscape of Tajikistan using virtual reality glasses.
The Navruz celebration was organized by the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan in order to familiarize the Conference participants with the ancient and rich culture of the Tajik people, as well as to promote the values of peace and solidarity, good neighborliness and mutual respect, which contribute to the preservation of cultural diversity and strengthen the friendship between peoples and various communities. The participants were presented with an exhibition of folk crafts, wood carvings, bright hand embroidery – “Chakan” and national jewelry. A cultural event called “Water and Navruz – two sources of Life” was also organized. Visitors to the event had the opportunity to taste fruits, bread, Tajik dishes and sweets. Tajik classical music and songs were played, as well as national dances were performed.
The side event “Roadmap to 2025: International Year of Glaciers’ Preservation” was aimed as a first step towards the development of partnership and joint development of the roadmap to 2025. It discussed practice, research, scientific and policy approaches for developing sustainable strategies to improve the management of the impacts of climate change on glaciers. The event also served as a platform for stakeholders to discuss and identify unresolved gaps in understanding the relationship between glacier melting and water resources, risks to society, as well as to declare their commitments, partnerships and key actions needed to expand access to critical information that will enhance society’s ability to adapt and take care of natural resources.
During the chairmanship of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Executive Committee of IFAS held a high-level parallel event entitled “Central Asia: Commitments to Water Action Agenda “ and spoke for the first time from the rostrum of the UN General Assembly. The event was organized to demonstrate the solidarity of the region in jointly solving water problems to achieve water, energy, food and environmental security in Central Asia against climate change and other challenges, including through the adoption of innovative, transformational and action-oriented commitments at the regional and national levels. It provided an opportunity for representatives of Central Asian countries to announce joint commitments and initiatives undertaken by the Central Asian region in relation to the implementation of the Water Action Agenda of the UN 2023 Water Conference.
Also within the framework of the Conference, the Founder of National Peace and Unity – the Leader of the Nation, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Mr. Emomali Rahmon, presented a gift of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan to the United Nations, where the UN Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance in the field of governance, the head of the Commission on Culture, Ms. Catherine Pollard, took part.
As a co-chair and co-organizer, Tajikistan has also participated in many other events within the framework of the UN 2023 Water Conference. Founder of peace and national unity – Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan H.E. Mr. Emomali Rahmon, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan Mr. Sirojiddin Mukhriddin, Minister of Energy and Water Resources of the Republic of Tajikistan Mr. Daler Juma Shofakir, Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan to the Water and Climate Coalition Leaders Mr. Sulton Rahimzoda, The Chairman of the Committee of Environmental Protection under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, Mr. Bahodur Sheralizoda, and other high-ranking representatives of the country took part with speeches at various events as a special guest from the country that initiated the Decade.
The UN 2023 Water Conference was a watershed moment for the whole world in assessing and addressing water and climate issues.
In the discussions, participants and speakers spoke about the urgency of the water crisis, its role in climate change and conflicts, and emphasized its critical connection with good health, poverty reduction and food security around the world. Attention was also paid to water needs, better data collection, improved management systems, capacity development opportunities, as well as the lack of financing in the water sector. The final document of the Conference will be the Water Action Agenda, which includes more than 700 commitments undertaken within the framework of the Conference by UN Member States, international and regional organizations, financial institutions, academia, the private sector, youth and other stakeholders.
The achieved results of the Conference will be further developed in three key upcoming events: the UN General Assembly SDG Summit in September 2023, the Summit of the Future in 2024, the World Social Summit in 2025, as well as through the annual High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the Dushanbe Water Process and other UN processes. The UN 2023 Water Conference is expected to change the world for the better, not only for the future of water but also for the future of the world.