Official Side Event – Turning the Tide: A Call to Collective Action by the Global Commission on the Economics of Water

The Global Commission on the Economics of Water (GCEW) held an official side event to the UN 2023 Water Conference.

The growing global tragedy of water

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 an unprecedented toll in virtually every region of the world.

However, we are seeing the results not of freak events, nor of population growth and economic development, but of having mismanaged water globally for decades. As the science and evidence shows, we now face a systemic crisis, that is both local and global. Dangerously too, the water crisis is increasingly intertwined with global warming and the depletion of biodiversity, with each reinforcing the other.

Without urgent actions, the water crisis will endanger not only our ability to deliver on the human right to clean and safe water and sanitation, but virtually all the SDGs. No person, place, economy or ecosystem will be spared.

A seven-point call to collective action

A sustainable and just water future can be achieved. It requires a new framework for the economics and governance of water. We must take actions that are bolder, more integrated across sectors, more networked at national, regional, and global levels.

At this Side Event during the UN 2023 Water Conference, hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Global Commission on the Economics of Water (GCEW) set out a seven-point 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.


  • Call for collective action on valuing water, and putting water at the heart of decision-making processes globally, both in the public and private sectors.
  • Dialogue on the seven-point agenda advocated by the GCEW.
Side Event Format

Side Event – Turning the tide, A Call to Collective Action, by the Global Commission on the Economics of Water in the presence of H.M. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and H.E. President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan

Introduction (10 min)
Opening remarks by H.E. Liesje Schreinemacher, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands
Introduction by moderator Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Member of the GCEW, former President of the UN General Assembly and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ecuador

Setting the stage – the GCEW’s Call to Collective Action (20 min)

Prof. Dr. Johan Rockström, Professor in Earth System Science at University of Potsdam
Prof. Dr. Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General WTO
H.E. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister, Government of Singapore

Perspectives from global leaders (15 min)

H.E. Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados (video message)
Guy Ryder, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Policy
Saroj Kumar Jha, Global Director Water Global Practice at the World Bank
Moderated round of reactions from the floor (25 min, 2 min per intervention)
Reactions and views from the floor

Closing (5 min)

Closing remarks by H.E. Mark Harbers, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands


Please register to attend the event by Friday 17 March.

Interventions from the floor will be on a first-come, first-serve basis through the registration form in the link above. Ministerial-level speakers will be given first preference.

Live stream

This event will be broadcast via UN Web TV.

Related news

Register now to attend the Side Event.