Informal Special Event – The Economics of Water: transforming governance to secure a sustainable, just and prosperous future

The Global Commission on the Economics of Water (GCEW) will hold a special event at the UN 2023 Water Conference.

The world faces a growing tragedy of water. Four billion people experience water scarcity for at least one month in a year. Whole countries and regions in the Global South have been pushed into severe food insecurity. And floods, droughts, heatwaves and wildfires are inflicting unprecedented human, economic and ecological costs in virtually every region of the world.

We are seeing the results not of freak events, nor of population growth and economic development, but of having mismanaged water globally for decades. We now face a systemic crisis of water. One that is both local and global, with nations and regions connected in ways more profound than previously understood. One that interacts with global warming, and the loss of natural capital, in ways that exacerbate all three. One that imperils all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): from SDG 6, our ability to ensure universal access to clean water and sanitation; to food security and health; to ending poverty and inequalities; to enabling trade for sustainable growth; and ensuring peace within and between states.

A sustainable and just water future can be achieved. It requires transforming the economics and governance of water, so as to  deliver on the human right to safe water, protect the global water cycle as a global common good, and keep the Earth system safe for all.

At the UN 2023 Water Conference, the GCEW will set out a transformative agenda: for how we govern, value and use water, from the local to the global, and open up major opportunities for innovation and investment, to enable more efficient, inclusive and sustainable use of water.

The GCEW’s call for collective action is aimed at spurring dialogue, action and change. Following the UN 2023 Water Conference, the GCEW will continue to engage with stakeholders, and will conduct societal dialogues across the world, listen to diverse communities and communities of practice, and help build consensus in support of the needed collective actions for the common good.

The special event is a jointly chaired open dialogue with stakeholders that will initiate a global consultative process that will contribute to the final GCEW report in 2024.

Initial and key findings of the GCEW will be presented and discussed with representatives from the Scientific and Technological Community Major Group, Local Authorities Major Group, Indigenous Peoples Major Group, Private sector and industry Major Group, and representatives from public utilities, youth and agriculture organisations.

The event is open to all participants of the UN 2023 Water Conference.


Special Event Format

Special Event – The Economics of Water: transforming governance to secure a sustainable, just and prosperous future

Introduction (10 min)

Opening remarks by Johannes Cullmann, Scientific Advisor to the President of the UN General Assembly
Major groups inviting the GCEW to present Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of UCLG, handing over to a moderator from the GCEW: María Fernanda Espinosa, Former President of the UN General Assembly, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador

Moderated presentation of key messages by GCEW (25 min)

Collective action and transformational pathways: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General WTO
Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone
Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean until 31 March 2022

Stakeholders engagement, Major Groups as lead discussant (70 min)

Youth and agriculture representative: Thomas Westhoff, president of the International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences
Local authorities representative, a city mayor: - Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam - Florah Bogadi Mpetsane, Président of Botswana Association of Local Authorities
Science representative: Irina Bokova, Patron of the International Science Council and former Director-General of UNESCO
Water operators and catchment organisations representative: Engr. Taqsem A. Khan, CEO of Dhaka WASA
Private sector representative: Ms. Jessica Christiansen, Global Head for Sustainability in Bayer Crop Science
Indigenous people representative: Myrna Cunningham, Miskitu feminist, indigenous rights activist and medical surgeon from Nicaragua
Governance representative: Barbara Pompili, Chair of the OECD Water Governance Initiative, French Member of Parliament and former Minister of the Ecological Transition (2020-2022)

GCEW Responses (15 min)

Setting the scene, the planetary boundaries and the global water crises: Johan Rockström, Professor in Earth system science University of Potsdam
The new framework for the economics of water, shaping futures: Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at UCL
Just water partnerships for financing Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister, Singapore

Q&A (40 min)

Plenary session taking contributions from the floor

Closing remarks (20 min)

Final wrap up by Emilia Saiz, Aromar Revi, Director, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Csaba Kőrösi, President of the UN General Assembly.

Live Stream

This event will be broadcast via UN Web TV.

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Register now to attend the Special Event.