UN Water Conference 2023 logo

As many as 4 billion people experience water shortages for at least one month a year, expected to rise to 5 billion by 2050. Currently, 25% of the population lives in countries facing extremely high water stress. Climate change is exacerbating the problem, intensifying floods and droughts, shifting precipitation patterns, and fueling sea level rise.

The first UN conference on freshwater, held back in 1977, discussed many of these issues still impacting communities today. The UN 2023 Water Conference aims to mobilize water action and create the political momentum needed to achieve SDG 6 — ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all — and other water-related goals and targets. This watershed moment will mobilize all sectors, stakeholders, and countries to improve water governance, finance, assessment, and collaborative mechanisms to ensure a water-secure world for all.

Find WRI at these side events during the Conference:


March 21 (pre-conference events)


Can Technology Solve the Water Crisis?

Watch the event recording

  • Time: 9:00-11:30 a.m. EDT
  • Location: AB InBev Offices 250 Park Ave, New York, NY 10177
  • Description: The interlinkages of water, energy, and food have been examined and expressed in the concept of the water-energy-food nexus since the 2007-08 global financial crisis propelled them into the spotlight. The nexus concept has allowed academics and other resources practitioners to express the interdependencies and constraints between these three systems, and to offer solutions that bridge across them. We are entering a new era of addressing nexus problems — applying remote monitoring, analytics, AI, and machine learning to water sustainability is unearthing new insights and solutions. The open data revolution has given access to organizations that would not be able to gather and process data themselves. In this session, experts from Accenture, Deltares, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Google, Microsoft, Water Resources Management Authority in Zambia, World Wildlife Fund, and World Resources Institute will discuss the role of advanced technology and multi-sectoral collaboration in addressing nexus issues, and provide a deep dive into the Global Water Watch platform with a chance for the audience to provide feedback on this tool.
  • Speakers:
    • Liz Burlon, Global Solution Development Lead for Water Sustainability and Energy Efficiency, Accenture
    • Dr. A.M. Moreno-Rodenas, Specialist, Environmental Hydraulics, Hydraulic Engineering Unit, Resilient Ports and Coasts Department, Deltares
    • Annemieke Nijhof, Managing Director, Deltares
    • Alexis Morgan, Global Water Stewardship Lead, World Wildlife Fund
    • Liz Saccoccia, Water Security Associate, World Resources Institute
    • Tara Varghese, Water Stewardship Lead, Google
    • Frank Nyoni, Senior Water Quality and Environmental Officer, Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA), Zambia
    • Eliza Roberts, Water Lead, Microsoft
    • Additional speakers to be announced


Aligning and Accelerating Collective Action for Water Stewardship

Watch the event recording

  • Location: AB InBev Commercial Strategy Office 125 West 24th Street New York, NY 10011

  • Time: 12:00-2:00 p.m. EDT

  • Description: As a shared, common pool resource, tackling water challenges is not the purview of a single actor but rather requires collective action. While the water community is often collaborative, there are also many examples of numerous “collective action” initiatives competing in the same basin, resulting in fractured, inefficient efforts. Beginning with this event in New York at the UN Water Summit, a group of conveners in the water stewardship community will be initiating a series of dialogue events on collective action, with the aim of aligning thinking, geographies, understanding of ground-level capacity, and re-thinking how we fund shared work. Ultimately, the intention is to accelerate and scale our impact through enhanced collective action. Intended to be a “working session”, the agenda will combine a mix of information provision, panel discussions and table discussions in an effort to inform and input.

  • Speakers:

    • Tom Williams, Senior Director, Nature Action, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

    • Corinne Trommsdorff, CEO and Founder, Water Cities

    • Sara Walker, Director of Corporate Water Engagement, WRI

    • Graham Alabaster, Programme Manager, Water, Sanitation & Infrastructure Branch, Chief Geneva Office, UN-HABITAT

    • Glen Low, Co-Founder, The Earth Genome

    • Mabel Smith, Technical Manager, Water Security Questionnaire & Guidance Team, CDP



March 22


High-Level Talkshow on the UN 2023 Water Conference

  • Time: 10:30-11:15 a.m. EDT
  • Location: United Nations Headquarters, SDG Studio
  • Description: During the UN 2023 Water Conference, seven live tv-shows will be broadcasted to an international audience. These shows will be about a specific theme, showcasing an innovative water practice or an urgent water problem. This session will discuss the opening of the conference


Turning the Tide: A Call to Collective Action by the Global Commission on the Economics of Water

Watch the event recording

  • Location: United Nations Headquarters, Conference Room 4

  • Time: 1:15-2:30 p.m. EDT

  • Description: The world is seeing the results of decades of mismanaged water. We now face a systemic crisis of water. One that is both local and global, with nations and regions connected in ways more profound than previously understood. One that interacts with global warming, and the loss of natural capital, in ways that exacerbate all three. One that imperils all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): from SDG 6, our ability to ensure universal access to clean water and sanitation; to food security and health; to ending poverty and inequalities; to enabling trade for sustainable growth; and ensuring peace within and between states. A sustainable and just water future can be achieved. It requires transforming the economics and governance of water, so as to deliver on the human right to safe water, protect the global water cycle as a global common good, and keep the Earth system safe for all. The Global Commission on the Economics of Water will set out this transformational agenda at the event. National and multilateral leaders at the forefront of tackling the challenges of the global commons will be in attendance, and there will also be an opportunity to engage in dialogue on the challenges of tackling the water crisis, and converting it to massive global opportunity.

  • Speakers:

    • Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO, World Resources Institute

    • Additional speakers to be announced


Water Resources-Sustainable Economic Development

Registration link coming soon

  • Location: United Nations Headquarters, Conference Room C

  • Time: 6:30-7:45 p.m. EDT

  • Description: This side event will focus on water’s impact on economic development and food system transformation from perspectives of urban water management and a water-energy-food nexus approach. Find additional details here.

  • Speakers:

    • To be confirmed



March 23


Corporate Action as a Catalyst for Raising the Ambition on SDG 6.3

  • Time: 8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. EDT
  • Location: Baker & McKenzie LLP 452 5th Ave, Floor 18 (Hybrid)
  • Description: Increasing economic activity is deteriorating the world’s freshwater resources, both in quantity and quality. Companies need to take action now on improving their wastewater management. Industries can reduce point source pollution by effectively managing their wastewater in their operations and supply chains as well as transitioning to science-based target setting for water quality. This event will share tools for industrial water users to better understand and reduce the impacts of their wastewater, present examples of action and voluntary commitments, and discuss what is needed to raise ambition from compliance to an impact-driven approach. Speakers will also highlight the importance of voluntary monitoring for formal reporting and the next steps beyond 2030.
  • Speakers:
    • Tom Williams, Senior Director, Nature Action, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

    • Chara Sifaki, Technical Manager, Water Questionnaire and Scoring Developments, CDP

    • Sharif Hoque, Impact Lead-Water, H&M Group

    • Mritunjay Chaubey, Global Vice President, Environment & Sustainability, UPL Limited

    • Neha Asthana, Sustainability Development Leader, Inter IKEA Group

    • Truke Smoor, Global Sustainability Director, Water, Cargill

    • Graham Alabaster, Programme Manager, Water, Sanitation & Infrastructure Branch, Chief Geneva Office, UN-HABITAT

    • Sara Walker, Director, Corporate Water Engagement, World Resources Institute

    • Glen Low, Co-Founder, The Earth Genome


Tools for Corporates to Drive Action for Watershed-Scale Water Quality

  • Time: 10:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m. EDT
  • Location: In vicinity of Bryant Park, NY 10018. Full address will be shared upon registration approval.
  • Description: The thematic focus of this workshop is surface water quality (SDG 6.3) and the role of industries to improve water quality at watershed scale through actions taken in their own operations, their supply chain, and beyond their value-chain. The objective of this Workshop is to inform the development of specific tools supporting Corporate impact-driven action for water quality, and launch the “watershed quality promoters” group of the Wastewater Zero initiative. The workshop will focus on highlighting the needs of corporates in terms of tools and guidance to support impact driven action at watershed scale, with a deep dive on the data required and the use of data to drive action.

    Participants will shape the potential version 2 of the Wastewater Impact Assessment Tool (WIAT), of which a Version 1 is launched on 23 March 2023. The goal of the Version 2 is to support the transition from a conformance approach to an impact driven watershed scale water quality approach, that tackle point source and non-point source pollutions.


AIP International High-Level Panel on Accelerating Water Resilience in Africa’s Cities: Bridging the Investment Gap and Ensuring the Delivery of SDG6

View the official side event page

  • Time: 2:00-3:15 p.m. EDT
  • Location: United Nations Headquarters Conference Room B (official side event)
  • Description: Cities in Africa are booming – by 2050, the continent’s urban population is expected to triple in size. Faced with the increasing impacts of climate change, African cities must urgently protect their water supply, ensure equitable access to clean water and sanitation, protect residents against shocks, and enable climate-resilient growth. The challenge is immense and requires mobilization and cooperation across local and national governments, development organizations, and the private sector. In addition to challenges faced by cities, delivery of water investments throughout Africa is below target to meet the continent’s growing needs. It is estimated that at least US$30 billion/year needs to be invested to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 6 target on water and sanitation - and only US$10-US$19 billion is invested each year.

    At the UN Water Conference 2023, the AIP International High-Level Panel on Water Investment for Africa & the African Cities Water Adaptation Platform aims to bring together city leaders and national governments from across Africa to discuss the importance of water to their shared development. City leaders will showcase their pioneering approaches to urban water resilience, as well as the ambitious water action plans they are employing to tackle their most pressing water challenges. National governments will be invited to discuss the role that cities play in achieving SDG6 – as well as best practices for multi-level governance and finance coordination that best respond to cities’ needs. Donors and private finance partners will also join the conversation to discuss the enabling environments needed, as well as the different forms of financing (blended, concessional funding, grants, equity, etc) being leveraged in the urban context to drive water resilience.

  • Speakers:
    • Aklilu Fikresilassie, ​​​​​​Director for Thriving Resilient Cities, WRI Africa 
    • Alex Simalabwi, Executive Secretary of GWP Southern Africa - Africa  
    • Andrew Rucyahana Mpuhwe, Vice Mayor of Musanze City, Rwanda 
    • Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO, World Resources Institute  
    • Dr. Sue Armstrong-Brown, Global Director of Environmental Standards and Thought Leadership, CDP    
    • Graham Chingambu, Fund Manager-SADC Water Fund, Development Bank of Southern Africa
    • H.E. Dr. Habtamu Itefa, Minister of Water & Energy, Ethiopia 
    • Harsen Nyambe, Director of Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment at the African Union Commission  
    • Kobie Brand, Deputy Secretary General, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, Regional Director, ICLEI Africa Secretariat 
    • Mark Fletcher, Global Water Business Leader, Arup  
    • Hon. Mike Mposha, Minister of Water and Sanitation, Zambia  
    • Rogier Van den Berg, Global Director, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities 
    • Smita Rawoot, Urban Resilience Lead, World Resources Institute 
    • Tarryn Quayle, Professional Officer: Climate Change, Water & Resilience, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability – Africa 


How International Water Management Partnerships Contribute to Sustainable Water Projects and Urban Solutions

Registration link coming soon

  • Location: United Nations Headquarters, Side Event Room 7
  • Time: 3:30-4:15 p.m. EDT
  • Description: We cannot change the centrality of water — so we must change our ways to handle it. Globally, we have the technologies and solutions needed to overcome our common water challenges. We need partnerships across governments, countries, cities, regions, companies and sectors around the world to share knowledge, accelerate implementation and mobilize funding. Partnerships of all kinds are crucial for developing innovative solutions to sustainable water management and ensure that the right people are working together. The Danish water sector is one of the world's most efficient when it comes to service delivery and water and energy consumption. Denmark has relevant experience on modernizing the water sector through public-private partnerships, and Denmark's global partnerships with India and South Africa on water management contribute with valuable solutions and knowledge. Such partnerships are crucial to deliver tangible results for implementation of the SDG6 and ensure our cities and communities are resilient, reliable and sustainable and can protect our planet for future generations. The objective of this event is to gather experience and share knowledge about concrete international and cross-sectoral partnerships on water. Cases will be drawn from around the world to reflect the diverse needs and circumstances that exist. A panel discussion will focus on how partnerships can help fund sustainable water protects and sustainable urban solutions. Speakers will include ministers from South Africa and India and representatives from California, from organizations and from the private sector.
  • Speakers:

    • Mark Watts, Director, C40

    • Magnus Heunicke, Minister for Environment, Denmark

    • Senzo Mchunu, Minister for Water and Sanitation, South Africa

    • Joaquin Esquivel, Chairman, California State Water Board

    • Tom Mollenkopf, President, IWA

    • Poul Due Jensen, CEO, Grundfos

    • Craig Hanson, Managing Director for Programs, WRI


Setting Water Targets: A Roadmap for Companies

  • Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m. EDT
  • Location: Apella 450 East 29th Street New York, NY 10016 and virtual via The Nature Hub
  • Description: This official side event of the UN 2023 Water Conference will bring together organizations representing key initiatives to help companies take the next step in their water target-setting journey. This interactive session will help participants: understand the landscape of various corporate water target-setting initiatives; know how and when to engage with these initiatives along their water stewardship journey; and get a deep-dive on the upcoming corporate freshwater science-based targets, part of the first science-based targets for nature from the Science Based Targets Network.
  • Speakers:
    • Nicole Tanner, Senior Specialist, Water Stewardship, World Wildlife Fund
    • Scott McCready, Chief Strategy Officer, Alliance for Water Stewardship
    • Allen Townsend, Senior Program Officer, Freshwater Metrics & Stewardship, World Wildlife Fund, Freshwater Hub Co-Lead, Science Based Targets Network
    • Chara Sifaki, Technical Manager - Questionnaire and Scoring Developments, ESG Disclosure, Freshwater Hub Lead, Science Based Targets Network
    • Dr. Varsha Vijay, Technical Director, Science Based Targets Network



March 24


Water, War, and Peace

  • Time: 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. EDT
  • Location: Jay Conference Center, Taylor Room, 515 Madison Avenue, NYC and Online 
  • Description: This session will offer key insights into both the links between water, war, and peace and also strategies for reducing the risks of water-related violence. Speakers will present background information on the long history of conflict over water and strategies for reducing the risks of such conflicts. Case study information will also be presented from recent events in Ukraine, Iraq, Africa, and elsewhere. In person and virtual options will be available. 
  • Registration links:

  • Speakers:

    • Peter Gleick, Co-Founder, Pacific Institute
    • Irina Patrahau, Strategic Analyst, Energy and Raw Materials Initiative and Climate and Security Programme, Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
    • Liz Saccoccia, Water Security Associate, World Resources Institute
    • J. Carl Ganter, Co-Founder and Director, Circle of Blue, Co-Founder and President, Vector Center


Talking the Untalkable

 Learn more

  • Time: 3:00-5:30 p.m. EDT
  • Location: French Institute Alliance Française, Tinker Room, 22 East 60th Street, New York, NY
  • Description: Fundación FEMSA is presenting Waves of Change, a series of conferences, cocktails and an art presentation within the frame of the UN 2023 Water Conference. Talking the Untalkable will focus on the future of water in Latin America, and the necessary transformation of economic, social, and environmental models. It is clear that we need to pursue disruptive changes and to identify these solutions, we want to host a set of challenging and thought-provoking conversations that intend to tackle some of the dilemmas we face.
  • Speakers:

    • Suzanne Ozment, Senior Associate, Cities4Forests and Natural Infrastructure Initiative, WRI

    • Representatives from Coca-Cola, Heineken México, FEMSA, and Fundación FEMSA


Past Events


Aligning Agendas: Advancing Adaptation through Country Participation in the UN Water Conference

In preparation for the Global Water Conference, the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), the Kingdom of the Netherlands and World Resources Institute (WRI) met on Monday, February 13 for an online event that brought together countries, implementing partners, and practitioners to learn more about the conference, share approaches, and exchange knowledge on water’s vital role in adapting to climate change and building resilience.

Learn more and watch the event recording


Cover image by Vicki Francis/Department for International Development