Accelerating progress towards achieving SDG 6: UN-Water Vice-Chair Dr Olcay Ünver reflects on pressing challenges and opportunities in water management


GRoW is happy to announce that the keynote at the GRoW final conference will be held by Dr Olcay Ünver, Vice-Chair of UN-Water and Senior Advisor at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). He will provide insights on the UN-Water 2030 Strategy and the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework launched at the High-Level Political Forum last July. While preparing for the conference, we had the opportunity to talk to him about linking local and global levels in water management.

GRoW: Where do you see the biggest challenges and opportunities in linking local and global levels in water management?

Ünver: The international community, led by the governments, but including the business sector and civil society, has demonstrated exemplary resolve and solidarity in having a dedicated water and sanitation goal, SDG 6, in the suite of sustainable development goals, as well as targets in other goals that support this dedicated goal. The achievement of most, if not all, of these, requires action at country level. The success in moving from the global to country and to the appropriate sub-national level is dependent on five fundamental and interconnected elements: 1) adequate, transparent and reliable data and information systems; 2) flexible financing schemes; 3) sound and adaptive governance structures; 4) human and institutional capacity; and 5) innovation. Although there is no broad definition that will fit all, a subset of these elements can become barriers for sound water management that supports sustainable development, materialization of relevant human rights, and integrity of ecosystems. A proper and timely identification of these can turn them into opportunities.

GRoW: Where can the UN have an impact on regional and country levels?

Ünver: The UN system, through UN-Water, is now entering an era of accelerated action through the collective expertise of its 32 agencies and 40 partners in order to support country efforts. The newly launched SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework and UN-Water’s offer to UN Country Teams and Resident Coordinators’ Offices to support their work aim to lead to faster action and more lasting impacts at the country level.

Dr Ünver will provide more insights on this topic in a keynote speech titled “Tackling the water crisis: Accelerating progress towards achieving SDG 6 and scaling impact to the local level” on 20 October at the GRoW final conference. Further information on the conference programme, format and registration process is available here.