Last week, the UN held its first global water conference in nearly 50 years, where WRI had a strong presence. WRI President and CEO Ani Dasgupta called the conference a “much-needed wakeup call.”
The conference’s main output is the Water Action Agenda — made up of over 700 voluntary water management commitments from governments, cities, businesses, NGOs and others, with more expected to follow.
WRI conducted an analysis of all the commitments, and found that while more than one-quarter of the commitments are potential game-changers, the rest may not be strong enough to create substantial change in the world. Many lack the proper finance, quantifiable targets, cross-border action needed to truly overcome water challenges.
Still others failed to consider climate change or address industry and agriculture, some of the biggest water consumers.
WRI announced two major commitments of its own to the Water Action Agenda. The Water, Peace, and Security Partnership will support governments in building capacity to reduce risks of water-related conflicts. The Urban Water Resilience Initiative will offer cities throughout Africa technical assistance and financing to implement climate resilient water solutions, through the ACWA Platform and Fund, and additionally, six African cities committed to implement 90 water resilience initiatives, with support from the initiative.
These commitments are just the beginning. What is truly needed is an international treaty for water, supported by rigorous national and regional water management plans.
During the week, WRI participated in over a dozen events on topics such as: transforming the economics and governance of water; water resilience and blended financing in African cities; strategies to reduce the risks of water-related violence; corporate water stewardship; cross-sectoral partnerships in sustainable water management; industry’s role in improving water quality and wastewater management; and the importance of open data, technology, and nature-based solutions for water.
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