Goals, Progress and Priorities from Mar del Plata in 1977 to New York in 2023

The United Nations (UN) 1977 Water Conference at Mar del Plata (MDP) sought to avoid a water crisis of global dimensions by 2000 and to ensure an adequate supply of good-quality water to meet socio-economic needs. While much has been achieved, the MDP goals are not yet realized. Unsafe, or perceived to be unsafe, drinking water still affects at least two billion people, unsafe sanitation affects more than four billion people, and billions face severe water scarcity for at least part of the year. At the mid-point of the 2018–2028 International Decade for Action, Water for Sustainable Development, the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York City offers a unique opportunity to review progress on global water goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Sustainable Development Goal 6 and its targets. Here we document the global goals and progress from MDP to New York City and highlight priorities to deliver on the MDP goals and beyond.

By R. Quentin Grafton, Asit K. Biswas, Hilmer Bosch, Safa Fanaian, Joyeeta Gupta, Aromar Revi, Neha Sami and Cecilia Tortajada, 2023. Article published in Nature Water, Volume 1, Issue 3, pages 230-240. DOI: 10.1038/s44221-023-00041-4

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