27 March 2023, Geneva, Switzerland – UNITAR proudly announced the launch of UNITAR’s Global Water Academy (UGWA) platform under the auspices of World Water Day during its event entitled “Addressing Water for Peace: The Role of Capacity Building in Water Governance in Conflict and Humanitarian Settings" on the 22 of march, 2024.

The theme of this year’s World Water Day (March 22nd, 2024): Water for Peace launched a global campaign that underscored the pivotal role water plays in fostering global stability and prosperity. When access to water is limited, contaminated, or unevenly distributed, it can fuel tensions among communities and nations. Over 3 billion people worldwide rely on water that traverses national boundaries. However, only 24 out of 153 countries with shared water bodies have established cooperation agreements. As the impacts of climate change intensify and the world population grows, we must come together to safeguard and preserve our most vital resource. Through collective efforts to uphold everyone’s rights and address their needs, water can serve as a unifying force and drive sustainable development.

In that matter, UNITAR’s event hosted a wide variety of stakeholders consisting of H.E Amb. Walid Khalid Obeidat, Permanent Representative of Jordan; Dr Rhonda Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor of York University; Mr Alex Mejia, Director, Division of People and Social Inclusion, UNITAR; Mr Bruce Gordon, Vice Chair, UN-Water; Mr Alan AtKisson, Executive Secretary, Global Water Partnership; Dr Sangam Shrestha, Dean of School of Engineering and Technology, Asian Institute of Technology; Dr Rumina Dhalla, Director, Institute for Sustainable Commerce; Dr Katalin Czippan, Strategic Advisor, Institute for Environmental Sustainability, Ludovika University of Public Service; Prof. Ebru Cana-Sokullu, Director, CIFAL Istanbul; and Dr Amir Asif, Vice President, Research and Innovation, York University.

Opening Remarks


In the opening remarks by the President of York University, Dr. Rhonda Lenton, she stated:

When populations around the world do not have equitable access to clean water and water management, it threatens human health, contributes to the resurgence of life-threatening diseases, deepens political divides, and slows our progress in advancing equality. [...] We must identify and agree to collaborate on the most promising opportunities for how to address water scarcity and advancing water management to drive positive change, overcoming social, economic, and political divides.

In addressing these remarks to find areas of collaboration, Mr Nikhil Seth, UN Assistant Secretary-General, and Executive Director of UNITAR highlighted the release of the UGWA platform to serve those ends: https://youtu.be/4e-mmtOQ2ag

Today's celebration of the inauguration of UNITAR’s Global Water Academy platform underscores the significance of capacity building in addressing water-related challenges. As we mark the first anniversary of the Global Water Academy, we aim to engage wider stakeholders and promote dialogue on leveraging water for peace to pave the way for a more equitable and sustainable future. Through initiatives like UNITAR’s Global Water Academy, our goal is to empower individuals and institutions with the knowledge and skills to effect positive change in the blue economy.


Further to these comments, H.E Amb. Obeidat emphasized the critical importance of water as an essential need, particularly in the context of Jordan's challenges with water scarcity, exacerbated by population growth. Despite Jordan's recognition of water-related issues and their impact on peace, effective water management remains a significant challenge at both national and regional levels. The country has actively promoted comprehensive water management efforts, yet continues to face severe water scarcity, leading to instability in neighbouring countries and the influx of refugees, especially Syrians, as well as challenges from climate change. Jordan is exploring alternative options, such as a national water project to desalinate Red Sea water, with support from the international community. Achieving regional cooperation is seen as essential for water security and maintaining peace, highlighting the need for all parties to engage in dialogue and cooperation despite existing challenges in national water structures.

In addition to these remarks, Mr. Gordon, Vice-chair of UN-Water, underscored the urgent need to focus interventions on "Water for Peace" and stressed the importance of successful international cooperation on water-related issues. Water scarcity, pollution, and lack of access to sanitation have significant implications for public health and peace worldwide. The UN Water for Peace initiative was launched to address these challenges, recognizing water as both a potential tool for stability and progress and a source of conflict if not managed effectively. Gordon highlighted the importance of trust and cooperation in transboundary water management, citing historical examples of successful agreements and urging countries to unite around water issues to prevent conflict and instability.

Furthermore, Executive Secretary, Mr. AtKisson of Global Water Partnership highlighted the importance of water for peace and capacity building, citing the "A Matter of Survival" report to highlight the critical role of water collaboration, even during times of crisis. The Global Water Partnership collaborates with various organizations, including the WMO and NGOs, to promote transboundary cooperation and provide technical interventions, such as Match Maker programmes in Jordan. The partnership fosters a spirit of collaboration through open-source platforms, communities of practice, and moderated discussions to address water challenges effectively. These partnerships highlight just a few of the many examples that are required to find transboundary solutions that make water a catalyst for change and cooperation.

Such a change stands at the ethos of the UGWA, and its platform, which invites members of international organizations, national governments, academia, private sector organizations, and civil society alike to find the bridge to collectively take action on fostering global stability and prosperity in water management.

Closing Remarks


In his closing remarks, Vice-President of York University Research Innovation, Mr. Asif stated:

Despite the many divisions we see in the world today - I believe that leveraging water for peace is indeed possible. Water is a single entity with the potential to unify countries and work towards a common goal. [...] The UNITAR Global Water Academy offers us the opportunity to make real strides toward such a future – where water is well-governed, free from conflict, and accessible to everyone. I invite all of you [...] to join York University and the UNITAR Global Water Academy on our mission to fight the global water crisis, and visit the UGWA platform today!

Message from Nikhil Seth, UNITAR Executive Director

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