UN Water Conference an “opportunity for change” – Dr Musonda Mumba

UN Water Conference an “opportunity for change” – Dr Musonda Mumba

27 March 2023

The importance of wetlands to the world’s water systems was one of the messages Dr Musonda Mumba took to the UN’s Water Conference in New York from 22 to 24 March.

In her meetings and in two keynote statements, the Secretary General stressed that almost all drinking water is drawn directly or indirectly from wetlands. Dr Mumba also warned the Conference that wetlands were degrading at an alarming rate with “almost a third lost” since the previous UN water conference in 1977.

Wetlands essential to sustainable development goals

Speaking at the “Water for Climate” dialogue on Thursday 23 March, Dr Mumba told those present that “we cannot address our water and sustainable development needs without wetlands. The UN 2023 Water Conference, and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Conference just a few months ago, provide opportunity for change – and perhaps our last genuine opportunity to turn trends before critical thresholds are crossed.”

In terms of the action required Dr Mumba stated that “it needs to include radical scaling up of wetland protection and restoration, including wetlands in national target setting for 2030, integrating ambitious wetland actions in climate change mitigation and adaptation plans, and measuring progress towards our common goals through wetlands.”

Water: “often seen as a commodity – without consideration” for ecosystems

On Friday 24 March Dr Musonda Mumba spoke at the plenary in the general debate at the conference and began by telling delegates that “water sustains life. It is our most precious resource, but too often it is taken for granted. Too often it is seen as a commodity, without consideration of the ecosystems that provide it.”

Dr Mumba went on to stress the fundamental importance of the relationship between water and wetland.  However, she warned that “wetlands are degrading at alarming rates. By some estimates we may have lost as much as a third of wetlands in the few decades since the last UN water conference in 1977.”

Dr Mumba implored those present to use this opportunity: “The UN 2023 Water Conference is an opportunity for change, an opportunity to ensure that the crucial role of wetlands in the water cycle, and therefore for sustainable development, is recognized across society and sectors, and fully considered in our plans and actions.”


Read more about her activities at the Conference here.

Read and download the full statements:

Statement to Interactive dialogue 3: Water for climate, resilience and environment

Statement to the plenary