Transforming the future of water at ground-breaking conference

Cape Town

15 – 17 February 2023, 8:00

Water security is key to our collective future, yet many parts of the world are deeply water insecure. In addition, water security is deeply intertwined with climate security. In the face of a changing climate and without immediate and bold action, water security is set to worsen.

The Transformative Futures for Water Security (TFWS) initiative is raising the ambition for water and bridging the gaps between science, policy and action. It aims to ensure water research and innovation better serve the acceleration of Sustainable Development Goal 6 and progress toward water security for all that will be robust in the face of deepening water risks this century.

The culmination of the initiative was the TFWS conference in Cape Town between 15–17 February 2023, in which delegates from across the world came together in this ground-breaking two-day event. Here the outputs from eight regional dialogues were assimilated to finalize the design of high-ambition missions for water research and innovation for development aligned with the objectives and outputs of the UN 2023 Water Conference. The initiative will continue to transform futures well beyond the close of the conference ensuring urgent and coherent policies and action on water security that is better supported by scientific progress.

Director General of International Water Management Institute, Dr Mark Smith said: “Our goal with the Transformative Futures for Water Security initiative is to bring diverse voices together to press for urgent action on water security and agree on collective priorities to drive the changes needed for a water-secure future. The messages from the regional dialogues have been clear – that youth, policy innovators, the scientific community, businesses and marginal and vulnerable voices from the Global South should be shaping the global agenda for water in the years to come”.

Specifically, the TFWS initiative aims to:

  • Build joint commitments to science-based action on water security across policy, development, business and science constituencies;
  • Amplify the effectiveness of water research and innovation for building water security;
  • Strengthen the innovation system for water security; and
  • Map stakeholder priorities for water systems science from across constituencies and sectors to create co-ownership of the future agenda for water research and innovation.

TFWS Southern Africa Youth Representative, Ashton Mpofu said: “We must address the communication gap: unidirectional flow of information and asynchronous efforts by scientists, policymakers and strategists.”

TFWS West/Central Africa Youth Representative, Michèle Okala said: “These dialogues bring all the water stakeholders to the same table, allowing proposals that consider each other’s sensitivities. This dialogue makes it possible to move toward a consensus that will facilitate the implementation of the roadmap resulting from the UN Water Conference.”

The TFWS initiative aims to reflect water’s diverse constituencies – especially young people. It is therefore integral that young people working in water and science are ‘co-guardians’ of the initiative. We want to ensure that those with the greatest stake in future water security, and the water science needed to support it, are at the forefront of TFWS dialogues – this is crucial for bridging the gap between policy and science.

TFWS Global Youth Representative, Maitreyi Koduganti Venkata said: “Decisions and policies made today will directly impact the lives of young people because they inherit the future from the current generation. Engaging them in this conversation will ensure that their voices are respected, heard and included in the decisions that define their future.”