United Nations Water Conferences: Reflections and Expectations

In March 1977, UN organised a Water Conference, at high policymaking level, in Mar del Plata, Argentina. It was attended by 116 governments, most of whom were represented by their Water Ministers. This 2-week long meeting had major impacts on global water developments for the next three decades, a most remarkable achievement. It generated a wealth of new knowledge on different aspects of water, and also country- and region-specific analyses. For the very first time, several developing countries formulated detailed national analyses of availability and use of water and also comprehensive assessments of planning needs and management practices. Even though it was a remarkable conference, there has not been a follow-up for over 45 years. The second so-called UN Water Conference, which will be held in New York, in March, really is not an event which will look at global water problems holistically, as Mar del Plata did, but a “Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of International Decade of Action.”

By Asit K. Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada, 2023. Article published in International Journal of Water Resources Development, 39(2), 177-183. DOI: 10.1080/07900627.2023.2176655

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