The Second High Level International Conference on the International Decade for Action ‘Water For Sustainable Development’ was held on 6-9 June in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Although the Decade for Action on water for sustainable development was a self-standing international process – known as the Dushanbe Water Process – the event was also mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to help prepare for the United Nations 2023 Water Conference . It will be the first international water conference at UN level since the Mar Del Plata conference held in Argentina, in 1977.
Together with the Netherlands, Tajikistan is a co-host of the 2023 conference in New York, which is expected to synthesise both the vision and the practical commitments of the global community on water security. The Dushanbe conference emphasised the central role of water in achieving all sustainable development goals, recognising water as essential for resilient and sustainable development, the eradication of poverty hunger, the improvement of health, combating desertification and biodiversity loss, and the promotion of a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable future.
The Dushanbe Declaration therefore set the course for the upcoming conference in New York, just as the Dakar Declaration of the 9th World Water Forum held in Dakar, Senegal in March 2022 initiated the global dialogue towards the UN Water Conference.
However, there are major differences between the two declarations. The Dakar Declaration focuses on a comprehensive outcome in the form of a ‘Blue Deal’ in which water security was unequivocally tied to peacebuilding and emphasised financing mechanisms for SDG 6 acceleration such as the Africa Investment Programme.
By contrast, the Dushanbe Declaration emphasises the relationships between water, climate change, and disaster risk reduction, mentioning water in the context of national adaptation plans and climate finance. A noteworthy development is the voluntary development of National Water Roadmaps to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 agenda and the call for prioritisation of water into national economic policies.
The Dushanbe Declaration envisages the development of a Water Action Agenda as the outcome of the UN Water conference in New York.