In December 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 71/222 proclaiming the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018–2028, commonly referred to as the Water Action Decade. The Decade aims to advance sustainable development and integrated water resources management to achieve internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The resolution states that this should be pursued through cooperation and partnerships at all levels, with a focus on social, economic and environmental objectives.
The Water Action Decade has been well-received by Arab countries given the centrality that freshwater scarcity and water security play in advancing sustainable development in the region.
At its twelfth session, the ESCWA Committee on Water Resources adopted a recommendation requesting ESCWA to support the Water Action Decade. At its thirteenth session, the Committee requested that ESCWA support member States in their work under the International Decade for Action, participate in Cairo Water Week and in other regional events related to climate change and water, and encourage youth participation therein.
Moreover, the Regional Preparatory Meeting on Water Issues, which was convened a week after the launch of the Water Action Decade and informed the 2018 Arab Forum on Sustainable Development and the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, resulted in an outcome document that consolidated regional views and priorities on water-related issues facing the Arab region.
ESCWA is actively engaging in various activities to support the Water Action Decade, and is heavily involved in regional forums, initiatives, networks and other mechanisms that are contributing to the objectives of the Decade.
ESCWA is also coordinating consultations for Arab regional preparations leading to the United Nations Conference for the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Water Action Decade in March 2023, with a wide range of regional organizations and institutions. This involves engaging regional stakeholders, implementing activities that support the Decade in the region, and preparing the regional contribution to the midterm comprehensive review report based on progress achieved, lessons learned, and challenges affecting the achievement of water-related SDGs in the region.