UN 2023 Water Conference
22 – 24 March, New York
See GWOPA events
Photo by Mike C. Valdivia @ Unsplash
An opportunityto debatewater challenges

The UN 2023 Water Conference takes place from 22-24 March 2023 at UN Headquarters in New York. It is the first UN Water Conference in nearly 50 years since the United Nations Water Conference took place in 1977 in Mar Del Plata, Argentina.

The 2023 conference represents a watershed moment in the world’s efforts and actions to achieve the SDGs by 2030. It presents a unique opportunity to debate the multiple dimensions of water challenges and topics. Co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands, the conference emphasizes the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the implementation of the objectives of the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028”. As outlined in its vision statement the conference aims to move towards “holistic, integrated, and future-oriented approaches and projects.”

This conference presents a significant opportunity for GWOPA, as an alliance of utilities and related actors, to advocate forcefully for utilities and Water Operator Partnerships (WOPs), using its network to prepare and disseminate these key messages. In addition, GWOPA shall take advantage of this conference process to promote its expertise, network of actors, and partnerships resulting in accelerating progress toward water and sanitation for all by 2030.

What GWOPA brings to the conference
Key messages
Water and sanitation utilities are key players
The world is off track to meet the SDGs. It’s high time to change our way of thinking and doing. In that respect, we must recognize operators as key players in improving water and sanitation for all, which are essential to local health and wellbeing everywhere.
Public service providers are solving the big global challenges locally. They help deliver on all of the SDG 6 targets and contribute to achieving all other SDGs. They help and build and maintain the social contract within populations.
To ensure we leave nobody and no place behind, to achieve SDG 6 and the other water-related SDGs, effective management and affordable services present major challenges. Strengthening local public water and sanitation services is a priority for sustainable services that guarantee Human Rights.
Water operators need to be further empowered to deliver on the global water agendas by giving them a voice in their implementation and providing them with the instruments. This includes finance, enabling utility-friendly positions within international, national, and local policies and laws, and strengthened capacities.
WOPs accelerate solutions

Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs) are not-for-profit and solidarity-based partnerships between peer utilities.

Being fully action-oriented, WOPs have a strong potential for scalability, visibility, and global impact to improve public services.

WOPs work by enabling well-functioning utilities to inspire, guide, teach, and mentor utility peers in need of support. Building on peers’ shared understanding of professional demands and challenges, partners jointly assess challenges and co-create solutions.

WOPs function on non-commercial principles, which are fundamental to the trust and open information exchange between operators that are key to effective capacity development.

WOPs make their impact by helping utilities acquire and apply knowledge, establish new practices and implement improved approaches. The areas tackled through mentorship encompass the management, financial, and technical levels.

Utilities may want to increase efficiency, take up new mandates, regularize services in low-income areas, expand sanitation service coverage, enhance environmental performance, or build human resource capacity following a remunicipalisation.

The resulting capacity and performance improvements can facilitate utilities’ access to financing for infrastructural investments, supporting further extensions and improvements to services and ensuring the utility’s ownership.

WOPs are an agile model, low-cost, effective, and highly scalable approach to support our most essential service providers.

They can be tailored to utilities’ greatest needs and can be carried out in rural and urban territories, small and intermediate cities, metropolitan entities, and regions.

Rather than substituting capacity, WOPs “do with, not for”, helping local utility staff to make long-term improvements that can continue well beyond the life of the partnership.

A growing number of WOPs are long-term and comprehensive, supporting utilities to make significant improvements. Follow-up and maintenance are better ensured than with more classic cooperation projects where follow-up over time is often missing.

WOPs frequently support investment programs and increase their sustainability. The skills acquired through WOPs lead to efficiencies that improve financial performance and can facilitate access to finance for infrastructure extension and better service provision.

Scaling up professional peer partnerships between water and sanitation utilities around the world is urgent to improve the capacity and performance of utilities. We call on governments to support this high-impact approach.

The positive outcomes generated by WOPs include organisational changes related to improvements in comprehensive knowledge, skills, awareness, and attitude, in addition to a deeper understanding of the organization’s needs and strategies on how to address them.

Such organizational capacity improvements are supporting utilities’ uptake of inclusive service improvements and access to climate finance. These partnerships often generate a ripple effect, with the mentee utility going on to share its enhanced capacities with other utilities.

Multi-stakeholders and peer partnerships

Improving cooperation at regional and international levels in access to technology and innovation and sharing knowledge contribute to strengthening the global partnership for sustainable development.

WOPs fit with the three principles guiding the Conference: Inclusive (leaving no one behind), action-oriented (leading to real impactful results through concrete actions and plans on the ground), and Cross-sectoral (provision of good services contribute to achieving all the SDGs).

The UN SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework defines four ingredients to speeding up the pace to meet the 2030 Agenda water goal. With a focus on capacity development in support of finance and innovation, WOPs can be super-accelerators towards SDG 6.

Through multi-stakeholder partnerships like WOPs, governance issues can be strengthened over time.

The Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) is an example of a, stronger, more networked and inclusive multilateral system’ called for by the Secretary-General in his Report to the General Assembly, Our Common Agenda.

GWOPA Water Action Agenda
Our events
March 21, 14:00 — 15:30
French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), 22 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022
Other GWOPA speaking event
Citizens and Local elected representatives involved in North-South Solidarity based on resources from water bill
Convenors: pS-Eau in partnership with the French Water Agencies, UCLG-Africa and GWOPA.
March 21, 16:30
Columbia University Schapiro Center, 530 W 120th St, New York , Room “Costa Engineering Commons” on the 7th floor. You need to enter the building from the main campus side and not from the 120th St. There will be a person with a batch letting you in.
Other GWOPA speaking event
Know your water
Convenors: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, together with Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC, the Swiss Water Partnership SWP and the Blue Communities.
March 21, 18:00 — 19:30
German House (871-873 1st Ave., New York, NY 10017)
Key GWOPA event
Young Water and Sanitation Professionals Shaping the Future
Convenors: The European Union, GWOPA, the Government of Germany.
March 22, 10:50 – 11:50
Millennium Hilton Hotel (Riverview Conference Room)
Other GWOPA speaking event
Main expectations regarding UN Water conference from members, sections and partners (Local and Regional Governments Day)
Convenors: UCLG, WWC.
March 22, 12:00 – 13:30
Millennium Hilton Hotel (Riverview Conference Room)
Other GWOPA speaking event
Scaling Urban WSS Services through Data Culture: from Data to Action (the New IBNET)
March 23, 9:00
Other GWOPA speaking event
Public and Community Partnership: Citizens and community participation to guarantee the right to water and sanitation
March 23, 15:00 – 16:00
Conference Room 2, UN Headquarters
Key GWOPA event
Special Event on the Economics of Water: transforming governance to secure a sustainable, just and prosperous future
Convenors: Global Commission on the Economics of Water, UN Major Groups, OECD Water Governance Programme, UN-Habitat, UCLG, C40, WFF, IAAS, MetaMeta, Dutch Water Authorities, and WaterWorX.
March 24, 9:00 – 11:30
CallisonRTKL Architects P.C., 233, Broadway 16th floor, NY 10279 New York — Registration and ID required
Key GWOPA event
“Together We Walk". Placing water at the center of urban developments
Convenors: Arcadis, UN-Habitat, with speakers from Government of Mozambique, Kenya, Tajikistan, the United States of America and the Netherlands, Global Water Operators Partnerships’ Alliance.
March 24, 12:30 –13:45
Conference Room 11, UN Headquarters
Key GWOPA event
Water Operator Side Event: Forget about SDG6 without strong water management organizations: commitments to capacitate and finance professional, climate- resilient water service organizations”
Convenors: Led by GWOPA in collaboration with its members and partners: Government of Germany, Government of The Netherlands, European Commission, WaterWorX, DWA/Blue Deal, KFW, GIZ, Public Services International, Aqua Publica Europea, FESAN, IHE-Delft and Local2030 Initiative.