Finland has important role in UN Water Conference – world countries meet after 46 years

News - Published 22.3.2023

The first UN Water Conference in 46 years takes place in New York on 22–24 March 2023. The Finnish delegation is composed of a broad spectrum of stakeholders representing the water sector. Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, stresses the importance of good governance of water resources, cooperation between the public and private sectors, and the high level of expertise Finland has in water issues.

Water has a prominent role in the UN Sustainable Development Goals: water is a prerequisite for life, and clean water contributes to the achievement of other SDGs as well. The aim of the Conference is to commit different stakeholders to concrete measures that will accelerate the achievement of SDG 6 – “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.

Finland and Finnish companies have strong expertise in water issues, especially in transboundary water cooperation and water diplomacy and in the governance of water resources. Finland has been actively involved in the preparations for the Conference, and the country’s important role will continue at different kinds of events during the Conference. The dialogues and various events aim to find solutions to challenges associated with water.

Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, will attend the high-level events and promote Finland’s positions and Finnish water expertise. A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed with South Africa on cooperation in water resources management. The Memorandum of Understanding will enable cooperation on a broad range of water-related issues, including the governance of water resources, water supply and sanitation services and preparedness for extreme events.

– We have explored the opportunities for cooperation for a long time, and it is great that we can now take the next step in this process. The Memorandum of Understanding will create opportunities for concrete cooperation for both parties and make it easier to launch and deepen cooperation between different stakeholders in the water sector. Finland has a lot to offer to Africa in water issues, and we want to be part of the effort to find solutions, Husu-Kallio says.

One of the main themes of the Finnish delegation at the Conference is promoting cooperation on transboundary waters. Finland has participated in the Transboundary Water Cooperation Coalition and has shared experiences on Finland’s own cooperation in these matters. The events organised by the Coalition will promote the implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes adopted in Helsinki in 1992.

Finland has an important role in the other events of the Conference as well, including an event organised together with the African Union under the theme water, security and peace in Africa. The event is part of the broader cross-sectoral work on water diplomacy that Finland has carried out for a long time in various international contexts.

The Conference will also include a high-level meeting between the EU Member States, the Commission and China as part of a long-term exchange of experiences on water policy, water research and water-related business. The declaration to be signed in connection with this event will set out the guidelines for future cooperation.

The key outcome of the UN Water Conference will be the Water Action Agenda that will be signed by a broad spectrum of stakeholders from national governments to businesses and civil society organisation. The Agenda contains concrete actions to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and find solutions to the global water and sanitation crisis.

– There is also work to be done in Finland in maintaining water supply and sanitation services and ensuring a good status of waters. There is a growing backlog in the repair and maintenance of water supply and sanitation services, and a reform to be implemented through a structural change and better property management will be needed to address this. In both quantitative and qualitative terms, the status of our groundwater and surface waters is as a rule good. However, the floods and drought that are becoming increasingly frequent as climate change progresses and nonpoint source pollution require continuous efforts to ensure good management of our water resources. Our cooperation in international contexts will contribute to access to clean water and to safety, security and wellbeing, says Director of Water Resources Management Olli-Matti Verta.


Olli-Matti Verta, Director of Water Resources Management
Annukka Lipponen, Chief Specialist on Water Resources Management

Press release from Finland’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 22.3.2023