Gearing up UN’s Water Action Agenda at Stockholm world water week
International water experts gathered at the Stockholm World Water Week know that much more is needed to achieve universal access to clean water and sanitation by 2030. An environment to nurture new types of alliances and governance is required.
All eyes are set on the 832 actions that were announced at the UN Water Conference in New York last March. This week, experts gathered in Stockholm are challenged to find new ways to speed up the implementation of lasting water services.
Catalysing international water commitments
“In March, the world agreed on a Water Action Agenda. Now is the time to act and to kickstart the 832 action commitments that we made”, says Special Envoy for Water Affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands Meike van Ginneken at the start of the Stockholm World Water Week (SWWW) 2023.
Now the international focus is on the roll out of this agenda. “We have made much progress in the past decades. Child mortality today is the lowest it has ever been”, adds Van Ginneken. However, she is aware that there is still a lot to do, especially for poor communities. “They disproportionately suffer from lack of water services as well as drought, storms, floods and pollution. If we fail on solving the water crisis, we also fail on solving the climate crisis as our collective actions have pushed the global water cycle out of balance.”
Sense of urgency
“It is time to fundamentally change the way we understand, value and manage our water”, states Van Ginneken. “Everybody here in Stockholm comes with a lot of knowledge from their institutions, countries, and professional experiences. Water has the power to connect. Let’s connect in Stockholm and act now”, she adds.
The sense of urgency was very present at the first sessions of the SWWW. An example of this urgency is that, according to recent reports, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 6 by 2030, the speed of implementing taps and toilets needs to sixfold.
Also, the need for a framework around the action agenda and the creation of an environment to foster innovative financing and public-private partnerships for lasting water services were discussed during the first sessions of the SWWW. What can be learnt from initiatives to de-risk private investments in water infrastructures, and new ways to lower interest rates for families taking loans to afford their own tap and toilet? And, how can such learnings be used to bring promising initiatives to scale?
Seeds of change
This year’s theme of the Stockholm World Water Week is ‘Seeds of change’. On Monday 21 August, during the opening session, Csaca Körösi, President of the UN General Assembly in 2022, reminded delegates that one of these seeds is having a global strategy. The world has admitted that there is a water crisis and it needs a global strategy to give direction to the way out. “The 832 actions represent 330 billion US dollars. How can we increase this to 1 trillion?” With this question, Kösösi challenges the global water sector gathered in Stockholm.
Concluding the opening session, Sareen Malik of the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation, voiced a grief deeply felt amongst the audience present. “It is unacceptable that, in an age where space travel is becoming a fast growing consumable good, women still have the burden to fetch water in buckets. If you want to start somewhere, make an end to this”, Malik made her heart cry out.
Meet with Dutch water actors
The Government of the Netherlands is official partner of World Water Week and the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). You can meet the Government of the Netherlands and the Dutch water sector at the Netherlands Pavilion (booth 4.01) and in the Netherlands meeting room #25.
Find and overview of activities with a Dutch component here.