4th UN Special Thematic Session on Water and Disasters


ECOSOC Chamber, the UN Headquarters
New York


Prof. Türk’s opening remarks included emphasizing that few disasters are entirely natural. Many are a result of climate change, largely caused by human activity. The Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace studied the nexus between water and peace closely. While water is seldom a direct cause of conflict, it adds to fragility of societies and to the outbreak of conflicts, in particular in ethnically diverse and conflict prone regions of the world. This is an additional reason to strengthen the mechanisms for adequate water management, including transboundary water management systems. They represent a strong and historically tested instrument for prevention of some water disasters, such a frequent floods and for mitigation of consequences of other water disasters. They require cooperation, including information sharing by the neighboring countries sharing the water basins. Financing of water projects in such areas needs to expand. Much of financing will have to be based on public funds but an increasing part of private based funding is needed. The latter has to include such mechanisms as “blue bonds”. Financing is not only about money, it requires water diplomacy and above all, creation of a “safe space” for pre-negotiation consultations to define the risks and the ways of addressing them. Geneva Water Hub is active in all these areas of work.

Prof. Türk’s full speech is available below (min. 40).


Pictures of the event are available below.

Co-sponsors include UN Member States (Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Tajikistan) and High-level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP) and supporting agencies are UNDRR, WMO, and UNESCO.

The 4th UN Special Thematic Session is proposed to continue the global dialogue and maintain high level of awareness on the issues of water and disasters among UN member states so as to promote further actions required to address the issue. The primary objective of the event is to overarch the issue of Water-related Extreme Event, which are to be placed at the core of Adaptation to Climate Change and are crucial for achievement of sustainable development. The event will provide a concrete step forward towards implementation of globally agreed agendas, and will become a milestone for future actions such as, the implementation of the Water Action Decade 2018-2028 including the United Nations Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review in 2023 and a high-level meeting in 2021, and the UNFCCC COP processes.

Prof. Danilo Türk, Former President of Slovenia, Chair of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace and Lead Policy Advisor of the Geneva Water Hub will have the honour of giving a keynote speech. Other keynote speakers include H.E. Mr. Peter Mutharika, President of Republic of Malawi, H.E. Mr. Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of Republic of Mozambique, and H.E. Mr. Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Republic of Zimbabwe.

The invitation flyer is available below.

The complete concept note is available below.