Current Affairs 2023
The United Nations Water Conference, held from March 22-24, 2023, was the first UN conference on freshwater in nearly 50 years. The conference aimed to advance the water agenda and inspire action to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6, which aims for the sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. The conference resulted in the international Water Action Agenda, to which over 670 commitments were made.
Apr 07, 2023
3 min read
The United Nations Water Conference, held from March 22-24, 2023, was a critical step forward in addressing the many challenges facing the world's water resources. The conference marked the first time in nearly 50 years that the UN had held a conference focused solely on freshwater, and it was held in the context of serious environmental issues such as flooding, drought, climate change, and a looming food crisis.
One of the key areas of focus at the conference was groundwater, which is a vital resource for many countries around the world. India, for example, is the largest user of groundwater globally, and it meets nearly 80% of the country's drinking water and two-thirds of its irrigation needs. The conference highlighted the importance of groundwater as a backbone of India's agriculture and drinking water security in rural and urban areas.
The conference resulted in the international Water Action Agenda, to which governments, multilateral institutions, businesses, and non-governmental organizations submitted over 670 commitments to address water security issues. Nearly 164 governments and 75 multilateral organizations made commitments, which embodied in the Water Action Agenda, are voluntary and, therefore, legally non-binding. However, the voluntary commitments are expected to inspire the collective political will, which is needed to address the many water challenges.
One of the challenges highlighted by the conference was the financing of water services. Meeting the Sustainable Development Goal 6, which envisages the sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, by 2030 will incur capital expenditures of $114 billion per year. The World Bank estimates recurring operations and maintenance for basic water and sanitation service costs to rise from about $4 billion to over $30 billion per year by 2030. Despite the financing challenges, India made a commitment to invest $240 billion in the water sector and efforts to restore groundwater levels.
The conference also highlighted the need for legally binding instruments on the regulation of trans-boundary river water courses. The United Nations Water Convention 1997 and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Water Convention 1992 are two such instruments that have been in place for several decades.
In conclusion, the 2023 UN Water Conference provided critical insights into the challenges facing the world's water resources and highlighted the need for collective action to address these challenges. The commitments made at the conference are voluntary and non-binding, but they are expected to inspire the collective political will needed to address the many water challenges. The financing of water services and the regulation of trans-boundary river water courses are among the key challenges facing the world's water resources, and the conference called for urgent action to address these challenges.
Based on the Editorial published in The Hindu
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