Join For Water partners at the UN Water Conference

Marcelo Ordoñez (Protos Andes) (left), Katrien Van Hooydonk (VITO) and Nestor Mburente (AVEDEC) in New York.

NEW YORK – Thousands of government representatives, scientists, academics, civil society organisations, indigenous peoples’ representatives, business representatives and youth delegates attended the United Nations Water Conference, end of March 2023. Among them two partners of Join For Water.

The conference was concluded on Friday with the adoption of the Water Action Agenda, a “landmark” action plan with nearly 700 commitments to protect water or improve access to water. Whether SDG6 – the UN Sustainable Development Goal that aspires to universal access to water by 2030 – can be realised as a result remains to be seen.

Nestor Mburente of our Burundian partner AVEDEC: “I went to the conference to present my country, but also to explain the activities of AVEDEC, as well as those of Join For Water, which has been our Belgian partner for many years. I participated in the opening and closing events, as well as in a side event of the Belgian delegation. There, I presented various aspects related to water management and socio-ecological resilience in Burundi. I attended sessions organised by the World Bank and institutions within the water sector, have made a lot of relevant contacts over the past few days. I hope, of course, that beautiful partnerships will emerge from them. That will be crucial; all conference participants commit to achieving SDG6, but at the same time the message resonates that for some countries it is unlikely to succeed. Funding for water challenges is declining and there are social inequalities in how funds are spent.”


Nestor Mburente in the UN’s renowned conference room.


Marcelo Ordoñez of Protos Andes, our partner in Ecuador and Peru: “I gave a presentation on our approach to international water management in Ecuador and Peru, two countries that share 9 rivers. I spoke about the binational water school and the binational water fund we are currently setting up, as both are excellent examples of innovative collaborations. I also had the opportunity to attend a session on water ethics, brought by representatives of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Whether we will meet the 2030 water target? It won’t be easy. There are different views on the approach. The big players in the sector usually look at the issues and solutions in a completely different way from the small players.”

The side events of the Belgian delegation were organized by VITO and Antea Group Belgium, in the presence of the Flemish and Belgian governments and various professionals from the Belgian water sector. Katrien Van Hooydonk, Strategic Partnerships and Internationalization at VITO WaterClimateHub: “It was an honor to give AVEDEC and Protos Andes the floor during the session ‘Collaborative Innovation: the key towards a Water-Smart Society’. Flemish Minister of Environment Zuhal Demir, Special Envoy for Environment and Climate Luc Jacobs, and the public appreciated the voices from the field, both in Flanders and internationally. Achieving SDG6 will require a drastic turnaround. Water urgently needs to be high on the political agenda! That is certainly the message that VITO also conveyed during the UN Water Week in New York.”