The United Nations Water Conference 2023 took place from March 22-24 at the UN Headquarters in New York City, and was co-hosted by the Government of Tajikistan and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This was  the second ever UN Conference dedicated to water, with the previous one held in 1977. This space provided a unique opportunity to undertake commitments and accelerate action towards achieving SDG 6 for clean water and sanitation, and other internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those set out in the 2030 Development Agenda. Peace Boat US participated in the following four official side-events to the Water Conference, either as a speaker or co-organizer.

The primary event Peace Boat US co-organized was on March 22nd, titled “Addressing the Global Challenges for Sustainable Development through Climate Action and Nuclear Disarmament in the Pacific.” The event was held on the first day of the UN Water Conference by Peace Boat US, Reverse the Trend: Save our People, Save our Planet, EarthEcho International, Blue Planet Alliance, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and the Marshallese Education Initiative. Participants were able to hear remarks from Ambassador Teburoro Tito of Kiribati and Ambassador Amatlain Kabua of the Marshall Islands. Both made comments on the importance of working together within the Pacific Islands and around the world to come up with sustainable solutions to reverse the damage from climate change. Both ambassadors come from islands that are in immediate threat of climate change due to the sea level rising. Benetick Kabua Maddison, Executive Director of the Marshallese Education Initiative and Reverse the Trend Advisor spoke about the importance of education within the climate space and stressed the point that in order to make genuine impacts, we must act fast.

The event also featured a youth panel with representatives from partner organizations, sharing their initiatives for climate action.  Participants heard from Sara Van Eerde a Peace Boat US and Global Kids Youth for the SDGs Scholar, Amelia Fortgang from EarthEcho International, Nuria Stojkosvski from Peace Boat US, Muna Farqui, a Blue Planet Alliance Global Ambassador, Kneyone Murray from Trinidad and Tobago as a participant of the Our Ocean Conference 2023 in Panama, Alei Rizvi from Reverse the Trend: Save our People, Save Our Planet, and Elise Granzotto from World’s Youth for Climate Justice.

On March 23rd the event, “Water and Peace Innovation: Uniting Local and Global Efforts for Sustainable Development,” was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Monaco to the United Nations and the Peace Innovation Initiative (PII) in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations and the Permanent Observer Mission of the University for Peace (UPEACE).

The event was held at the permanent Mission of Monaco with opening remarks from the Ambassador Permanent Representative of Monaco, H.E. Isabelle Picco, and Ambassador Permanent Representative of Costa Rica, H.E. Maritza Chan. Following the Opening Remarks were Keynote Addresses from Permanent Representative of Bulgaria and President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, H.E. Lachezara Stoeva. The final speaker was Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, Nikhil Seth. 

A panel discussion followed the opening remarks, moderated by Whitney Bauck, a journalist at the Guardian, Financial Times, and Washington Post. The panelists included Emilie McGlone, Director of Peace Boat US, who talked about the education initiatives that take place on the Peace Boat and the opportunities for young people to get involved. Kristy Drutman, the Founder of Green Jobs Board, spoke next on the effectiveness of creating and promoting opportunities for young people to work in a sustainable industry. The next speaker was Aleks Gosiewski of Keel Labs, who explained how her organization works to utilize the potential of the ocean to help make our world function more sustainability. The final speaker was Erica Nava Asinas from Urban Ocean Lab, which works to create equitable ocean and climate policy for the future of coastal cities. All the panelists discussed how their local accomplishments are becoming a global effort towards sustainability.

Also on March 23rd, Peace Boat US presented at the Ford Foundation during an event titled “Youth Attaining Water Sustainability for Building Peace.” Youth for the SDGs Scholar, Juan Sebastian Huertas Olea, discussed his time aboard the Peace Boat with an overview of the programs he experienced. Peace Boat US intern, Nuria Stojkovski, also spoke about the upcoming Youth for the SDG Scholarship Programs.

The final event Peace Boat US participated in was  “Art, Education, and the SDGs,” held at the World Trade Center on March 24th. The talk event and evening reception was organized by I <3 NY Sea and brought together four women each working to apply creative thinking to positive social change. The event was held on two stages, including a series of meditations taking place on the BEtime bus outside the Oculus with a discussion on creativity as a force for social change and good with an emphasis on water and ocean conservation. The other part of the event, a speaking panel, was hosted in Yvette Vexta’s art studio located in the World Trade Center. The speakers included Peace Boat US Director Emilie McGlone, Carla Hammond of BEtime Practice, Yvette Vexta, Artist in Residence at the World Trade Center and Morgan Rae of L’eautelier. The event brought together many organizations from different backgrounds to support the  cause of climate change. Within the context of the Water Conference, this event showed the intersections between ocean conservation, climate justice, and nuclear disarmament, and how we can work together towards a common goal.