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UN Water Conference 2023

Context: Recently, the United Nations (UN) 2023 Water Conference in New York culminated with a breakthrough response to the global water crisis, with governments, businesses and civil society committing billions of dollars to advance the water agenda.

UN Water Conference 2023 Background

  • Global water crisis: Recently published ‘UN World Water Development Report 2023’ drew attention to the water crisis that is being experienced around the world.
    • Global: Globally, two billion people do not have access to safe drinking water and 3.6 billion lack access to safely managed sanitation.
    • India: 80% of people living under water stress lived in Asia; in particular, northeast China, as well as India and Pakistan.
    • Urban water scarcity: The global urban population facing water scarcity is projected to increase from one-third (2016) to nearly half of the global urban population in 2050, with India projected to be the most severely affected.
  • What is the Water Conference?
    •  It is a global conference organized by the UN to bring together experts, policymakers, and other stakeholders to discuss water related issues.
    • The UN Water Conference 1977: It was held in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The conference was the first of its kind to focus specifically on water-related issues.
  • Mar del Plata Action Plan: The conference resulted in the adoption of the Mar del Plata Action Plan, which outlined a series of recommendations for improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation and promoting sustainable water management.
  • This has led to several decades of global funding and concerted effort to lower the population without access to safe drinking water.
    • The UN Water Conference 2023: It marks the first such summit on water in the past 46 years.
  • It took place at UN Headquarters in New York. It was co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands.
  • The conference coincided with the mid-term comprehensive review of the ‘UN Water Action Decade 2018-2028’.

About the UN Water Action Decade 2018-2028

  • The UN proclaimed the Water Action Decade at the 66th General Assembly to address global challenges associated with access to water.
  • The UN Water Action Decade started on 22 March 2018 and ends on 22 March 2028. It pursues two main goals:
    • To improve knowledge sharing related to water and water pollution control, including information on the water-related SDGs.
    • To improve communication to achieve the water-related

What are the Key Outcomes of the UN Water Conference 2023?

  • Water action agenda: As part of the agenda, there were 713 voluntary commitments made by philanthropists, governments, corporations, and NGOs to deal with the global water crisis.
    • They included a $50-billion commitment from the Indian government to improve rural drinking water services under its Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • Climate resilient water and sanitation infrastructure: USA announced a commitment of up to $49 billion in investments to support climate resilient water and sanitation infrastructure and services.
  • Quality Infrastructure: Japan announced that it will contribute 500 billion yen to the solution of water-related social issues faced by the Asia-Pacific region by developing quality Infrastructure.
  • River basins management and clean running water: Vietnam pledged to develop policies for major river basins management by 2025 and clean running water by 2030.
  • Africa’s water investments gap: The African Union Commission and Continental Africa Investment Programme (AIP) aims to close Africa’s water investments gap by mobilizing at least $30 billion per year by 2030.
  • European Union (EU): The EU aims to support 70 million individuals to an improved drinking water source and sanitation facility by 2030.
  • Water Convention and transboundary cooperation: Switzerland submitted 5 commitments in the areas of Water Convention and transboundary cooperation.

Key Government Initiatives and Programs for Water Resource Conservation and Management

Atal Bhujal Yojana It is a Central Sector Scheme and partially funded from World Bank.  It seeks community participation and demand side interventions for sustainable ground water management.
PM Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) It is a centrally sponsored scheme to enhance physical access of water on farm and expand cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency, introduce sustainable water conservation practices, etc.
Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) To develop basic infrastructure, in the selected urban areas, across sectors of water supply; storm water drainage; green spaces and parks; sewerage and septage management; and non-motorized urban transport.
Jal Shakti Abhiyan It promotes water conservation and water resource management by focusing on rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional water bodies, and intensive afforestation and watershed development.
Mission Amrut Sarovar It focuses on a target to construct or rejuvenate 50,000 Amrit Sarovar ponds across India, with an objective of promoting sustainable use of water.
Sahi Fasal campaign It is an awareness campaign with the objective of weaning away the farmers from growing water intensive crops and using micro-irrigation techniques to increase water use efficiency in agriculture.

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