Open letter to UN Secretary General calling for accountability, rigour and ambition at UN Water 2023

The long-awaited UN 2023 Water Conference took place from 22 to 24 March for nations and stakeholders to make the necessary commitments for accomplishing the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other internationally agreed goals. This was only the second UN conference dedicated to water, coming 48 years after the inaugural one held in Argentina in 1977.

Supporting the letter of concern to the UN Secretary General

Despite the anticipation and some very engaging discussions, there was an unfortunate lack of accountability, rigour and ambition (see  The Guardian article for further highlights). SouthSouthNorth (SSN) joined ANEW, Shahidi wa Maji, KeWaSNET, TaWaSNet, Water Witness International and the Water Integrity Network in signing an “Open letter to UN Secretary General calling for accountability, rigour and ambition at UN Water 2023”. The letter was drafted and signed by 114 representatives of global civil society, water users and the academic community.

The full contents of the letter and the explanations of what is meant by “accountability, rigour and ambition” can be viewed here.

SSN’s participation in UN Water Conference

SSN took full advantage of representation at the Conference in New York to engage various partners and stakeholders. Two of SSNs programmes, Voices for Just Climate Action (VCA) and Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), participated in  three separate side events at the conference:

  • Local voices from the global South: Community action at the centre of resilient water solutions (20 March)
  • Andean Water Fund Platform: A proposal to face the local challenges of joint watershed management in the Andean countries (21 March)
  • Locally-led adaptation approaches to achieving water security: Examples and lessons from local implementation (22 March)


More information and reflections on these events can be found on CDKN’s website. Recordings from the main conference proceedings are also available on UN Web TV.