On March 22, 2023, the world will come together to address the urgent water crisis at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York. Co-hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of Tajikistan, the conference will be a global momentum for accelerated implementation and improved impact to advance the broad challenges surrounding water. 

The closing ceremony of the event will be held on March 24.

The 2023 water conference marks a critical juncture for global water policy and is an opportunity that cannot be missed. After 46 years since the last UN Conference on Water, we need a conference that can deliver high-impact solutions and promote tangible change.

According to the organizers, the primary goal of the conference is to create awareness about the global water crisis and to take internationally agreed decisions to achieve water-related goals and objectives. The main objective of the conference was also set out—to develop a strong “Water Action Agenda”, which would represent the commitments of UN member states and stakeholders.

Ahead of the conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said a strong ‘Water Action Agenda’ must be adopted at the ‘UN Water Conference 2023’ which will give the world the promise it deserves to exist.

In July 2022, the co-hosts of the conference, the Netherlands and Tajikistan, decided on five themes for the conference. Later in October of that year, UN member states agreed to the proposals at a preparatory meeting.

The five themes are—Water for Health; Water for Development; Water for Climate, Resilience and Environment; Water for Cooperation and Water Action Decade. 

The conference will have an opening and closing session as well as six plenary seminars, five participatory sessions. A summary will then be prepared by the president of the UN General Assembly based on the approved documents of the conference.

Regarding the conference, the Chairman of the National River Protection Commission Majur Ahmed Chowdhury told Bangla Tribune: “This conference is very important. Many important issues will come up in the conference. There will be various sessions and discussions on water usage and legal issues in the conference.”

Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Geographic Information Services (CEGIS), Malik Fida Abdullah Khan, said: “This is the first water conference since 1977. It is very important. 

“In particular, the co-hosts Netherlands and Tajikistan want to bring countries that are not particularly keen on this (water and riverine pollution) into the discussion. And the UN wants to implement the promises made by the member countries. In the true sense, there will be an inclusive commitment with government, private, and civil society,” said Malik Fida Abdullah Khan.

“This is why every country will be under pressure,” said Fida Abdullah Khan.

While talking to several officials of the Ministry of Water Resources, it was known that a high-level delegation from Bangladesh will participate in the water conference. Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Minister of State for Water Resources Zahid Faruk along with Malik Fida Abdullah Khan are likely to be part of the delegation. 

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said: “We will participate in the conference. Our country is riverine. There are 857 rivers spread across the country. Water is our life. But the water is getting polluted. The Indian ocean is polluted. Water should be saved and for the sake of our survival, we have to save water.”

Asked what Bangladesh’s position could be in the conference, the foreign minister said the world has become warmer. “We have designated some parts of the sea as protective areas. The government is trying to ensure that everyone has access to clean water. It must be implemented. We will try to gain on issues such as how we can ensure water supply through increased cooperation.”

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