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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Water Action Decade

2018 - 2028

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Water is critical for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and hunger, and is indispensable for human development, health and wellbeing. Water-related challenges, including limited access to safe water and sanitation, increasing pressure on water resources and ecosystems, disasters and an exacerbated risk of droughts and floods, have received increasing attention in the global development arena. Water is at the heart of recent milestone agreements such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the 2015 Paris Agreement. The World Economic Forum ranks the water crisis in the top 3 of global risks for the third consecutive year. Failing to respond effectively to these challenges will have devastating global effects.

To be successful, Member States and the United Nations (UN) system will need to respond in a coordinated and effective manner. In its resolution 71/222 ( further referred to as “Resolution”) the General Assembly proclaims the period from 2018 to 2028 the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development” (the “Decade”), to further improve cooperation, partnership and capacity development in response to the ambitious 2030 Agenda. Commencing on World Water Day, 22 March 2018, and concluding on World Water Day 2028, the Decade builds on the achievements of the previous “Water for Life” Decade, 2005-2015. The resolution states that the objectives of the Decade should be a greater focus on:

  • the sustainable development and integrated management of water resources for achievement of social, economic and environmental objectives;
  • the implementation and promotion of related programmes and projects; and
  • the furtherance of cooperation and partnerships at all levels to achieve internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Source: United Nations Secretary-General’s Plan: Water Action Decade 2018-2028

More info: International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028 


Conference 2023

On 20 December 2018 the General Assembly adopted the resolution on the “Midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Sustainable Development’ 2018-2028”. (A/RES/73/226).

The resolution calls for a Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action to be convened in New York from 22 to 24 March 2023. The Conference shall be preceded by regional and global preparatory meetings, as appropriate, and informed by existing water-related meetings at the regional and global level.

The President of the General Assembly was requested to hold a one-day high-level meeting in 2021 to help promote the implementation of the water-related Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda. Moreover, the resolution requests the Secretary-General to coordinate the preparatory process and to invite all relevant organizations of the United Nations system, including the regional commissions and other relevant organizations, within their respective mandates, to provide support to the review process.

The resolution decides that all costs relating to the 2023 Conference and its preparatory process shall be financed through voluntary contributions and to finalise the arrangements for the 2023 Conference during its seventy-fifth session. As an initial activity for the preparatory process, UN-Water held in November 2019 a side event to provide an opportunity for stakeholders, specially UN Member States, to reflect on how to plan for the Conference and the preparatory process. A summary of the event including general principals and draft proposals for the events can be downloaded here.

On 21 December 2020, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution A/RES/75/212 “United Nations Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018–2028”,  which provides the modalities of the Conference. More info here


Process to 2023 - Milestones: 





2023 Roadmap
The roadmap towards 2023 can be downloaded here.














High-Level Meeting on Water






As per General Assembly Resolution A/RES/73/226, the President of the General Assembly will convene a one-day high-level meeting to promote the implementation of the water-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda in support of the implementation of the Decade on Water and Sustainable Development (2018-2028) and the high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF). 

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the New Urban Agenda represent a collective global commitment, a clear roadmap. However, Member States need support to strengthen their ability to comprehensively review and accelerate progress towards meeting the global water-related goals. With only 10 years to go to achieve the SDGs, we need an immediate and integrated global response to rapidly improve progress on SDG 6. The United Nations, Governments and key stakeholders are fully behind the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework which was launched during the HLPF in July 2020. This Framework is galvanizing the international community’s support around five key accelerators: financing, data and information, innovation, governance, and capacity development.

With the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrating the critical importance of adequate access to safe water and sanitation for preventing and containing diseases, and climate change increasing variability in the water cycle, the Decade on Water and Sustainable Development (2018-2028) must succeed. The meeting will seek to showcase solutions in various contexts, and also identify the lessons learnt and best practices in implementing the water related targets and goals.

The objectives of the high-level meeting are as follows:

  1. Raise global awareness among people on the importance and urgency of implementation of SDG6.
  2. Support the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework, the recommendations of the HighLevel Panel on Water and encourage announcement of actions in this regard.
  3. Identify gaps and obstacles in the implementation of the water-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda whilst sharing solutions from various contexts
  4. Highlight the urgency of the need for mobilization of resources and enhanced investment in the water infrastructure including in the context of advancing urgent action to promote water and sanitation as key to contain COVID-19 and build a more resilient and just future.
  5. Reinforce the role of partnership between the global, regional and national actors from different sectors to engage with water sector, share lessons and experiences, improve collection and allocation of resources and synchronize actions on water and sanitation.

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