Civil society & youth on the way to UN2023WaterConference

Through the empowerment and amplification of voices of hundreds of civil society groups (CS0) and thousands of individuals from around the world, ISW has positioned itself as a catalyst for CSO and youth priorities at the first global summit on water in almost 50 years. Over 300 members of ISW’s networks will be attending the conference and actively participating and influencing discussions and outcomes. Recognizing the influence and role of ISW in the water space, the UN has invited us to play a major role at all levels.

ISW is mobilizing and promoting the voices of changemakers, in particular those most affected by water issues, including women, youth, and indigenous communities, as they must be at the forefront of all discussions. For this event to be a success, we truly believe that we must  truly value the experience and skills on the ground  of thousands of CSO and young people that are working on practical solutions and policy in their regions and countries across the globe.


The UN 2023 Water Conference is an unprecedented opportunity to highlight the scale of the world’s water crisis and build momentum for urgent action. A strong international political commitment to the issue of water and the preservation of this vital resource is essential. For ISW, this conference must be an opportunity to strengthen international water governance. This is the only way to ensure that we will finally be able to walk the talk.


Water, the major issue for the 21st century 

Water is essential for all aspects of development, being a major driver for an equal and peaceful world and being the key to ensure our survival. And yet:

  • 2,2 billion of people worldwide do not have access to water
  • Lack of access to sanitation affects 3.6 billion people globally
  • Over 80% of wastewater is released in our oceans and rivers without treatment or reuse
  • Widespread droughts could become the next pandemic as climate change intensifies while by business as usual 50% of the world’s population will be living under water stress conditions by 2050.

Collective influence to accelerate change

The ISW has facilitated the development of key advocacy messages and positioning of civil society organisations and the youth movement. These common priorities will be taken to the highest levels at the UN 2023 Water Conference and will serve as common ground for the advocacy post-conference. ISW and its partner organisations are calling for strong political leadership for water at all levels. We are calling on the need to better equip CSO groups, especially youth and women, to enable them to empower them in their roles as agents of change.

Specifically, we call on member states and the water sector to:

  • Obtain a UN General Assembly Resolution calling on the establishment of regular intergovernmental meetings on water within the UN, to address all targets of SDG 6 including the acceleration of implementation of the human rights to water & sanitation, especially for young women and girls.
  • Ensure that the UN Special Envoy for Water appointed by the UN Secretary General has a political mandate to strengthen international water governance & and that a representative of all major groups – including youth – be among its advisors.
  • Ensure that CSO and young people gain access to dedicated funding to implement innovative community-based water solutions.
  • Ensure that youth and women receive adequate education to acquire knowledge and skills necessary to become agents of change.
  • Ensure that civil society representatives, including youth,  be included in water governance. By 2030, youth below 30 years old must represent at least 30% of stakeholders engaged in water management (#303030).

To know more:


  • Youth Position Paper supported by +370 organisations – Global Youth Movement for Water   Catalyzed by ISW, the Global Youth Movement for Water aims to empower and elevate the voices of youth, creating a movement for water the world will no longer be able to ignore.  The Movement is demanding for this conference to present strong political will and commitments for water action. These common messages are shared trough the ‘’Fill Up the Glass’’ campaign.

ISW at the UN2023 Water Conference in a nutshell

  • Over 160 youth mobilised and CSO members
  • 20 preparatory events supported. To ensure that all voices are fully represented at the UN event, ISW organised consultation with its network in Africa, Central Asia, Europe, North & South America.
  • 30 events organized an/or supported by ISW and its partners – youth & civil society – during the UN Conference
  • Recognition of our role by the UN as the main organization supporting & empowering youth for this conference
  • Coordinating a match-making process amongst the over 500 youth delegates and side-event holders to increase significant engagement of youth during the conference
  • Daily briefings for youth delegates on the 22, 23 and 24 March 2023
  • 1 global communication campaign ‘’Fill Up the Glass’’ to share main priorities of youth, a communication campaign for, by and with youth.

The ISW is involved at different levels and has several significant entry points to ensure that the voices of CSO and youth are truly heard and considered during this conference. Hereby a list of key events and processes in which ISW is involved :

  • March 21st: 6-7 :30 pm at the German House – organized by GWOPA and the German government. Event about the role of young water professionals in water utilities. We will be present with a delegation of 15 young people.
  • March 21st: 8:30 – 9:00 am – Opening Ceremony of the Conference – youth will make interventions through a video presentation supported by ISW
  • March 21st: 6:00 – 9:00 pm at the All Souls NYC Center – meeting of civil society organizations present in NY – networking event
  • March 22, 23 and 24 : 8:30 am at the Water House: Youth Briefing organized directly by ISW and youth partners of the Global Youth Movement for Water;
  • March 22: 9:30 am (Official Side-Event inside the UN Headquarters): Rewriting the Rules for Partnering: New Models for Water Action. ISW is one of the co-organizers and speaker.
  • March 22: 11:00 am – 12:15 (Official Side-Event inside the UN Headquarters): Cross-sectoral partnerships to accelerate progress towards inclusive sanitation. ISW is one of the main co-organizers and speaker.
  • March 23, 10:30 am : ’Roundtable on Supplementary Urban Water Service Providers – A game changer for meetings at the SGD’s. Intervention of ISW.
  • March 24, 9:30 – 10:45 am: (Official Side-Event inside the UN Headquarters): Towards a sustainable and inclusive water future for Sudan: Introducing the SYPW as a bridge between Sudanese youth and decision-makers (HQ159) Event Room C. This event is organized by key members of the youth networks supported by ISW:     Sudan Youth Parliament For Water; World Youth Parliament for Water (Blue Peace Group)
  • March 24, 10:00 am -1:00 pm: Special event 4 (Water Leadership Uniting for a Sustainable World). ISW is one of the main co-organizers and speaker.
  • March 24, 3:30 – 4:45 pm: (Official Side-Event Inside the UN). From Mar del Plata to the UN 2023 Water Conference ; where do we go? ISW is one of the main co-organizers and speaker as well as the Butterfly Effect NGO coalition
  • March 24, 3:30 – 4:45 pm: (Official Side-Event inside the UN Headquarters): Revitalization of the 54 African Youth Policies (HQ191) Interactive Dialogue Room (CR4) ; African Youth Parliament for Water; World Youth Parliament for Water; International Secretariat for Water; AMCOW; African Union
  • March 24, 3:30-4:45pm: (Outside the UN)- Side-event Youth & European Commission with OACPS and the German government at the European Union delegation in NY – interactive dialogue. ISW co-organizer and speaker and has coordinated a participation of over 15 youth from our networks.

The ISW has also joined forces with several other advocacy initiatives :

For press & speaking enquiries, please contact: WorldReach Coms

Considering the magnitude of the water crisis, we can’t afford to wait another 50 years for water action. The States and the international community have a huge responsibility to facilitate the implementation of individual and collective decisions.

This unprecedented mobilization of civil society and youth for water is made possible through the support of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and  the Netherlands Government.