By Bonnie Barclay, Global Communications Manager for International Rivers

International Rivers joins coalition and local partners at the 2023 UN Water Conference this week in New York City. This year’s conference is the “Midterm Comprehensive Review of the implementation of the UN Decade for Action Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018 – 2028”, marking the midpoint of the latest 10-year Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on water. 

A key outcome of the Conference will hopefully be an ambitious Water Action Agenda, which captures new water-related commitments from UN Member States and other stakeholders. In the words of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “This Conference must result in a bold water action agenda that gives our world’s lifeblood the commitment it deserves”.

Monti Aguirre, International Rivers’ Latin America Program Director will be speaking at multiple events on the importance of centering permanent protections for rivers and defending human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights and territories. For over 25 years, Monti has worked with International Rivers’ partners in Latin America and around the world. She works with legal experts and civil society partners to assess the impacts of proposed dams and identify strategies to permanently protect rivers from harmful development and for the benefit of riverine and Indigenous peoples. Monti also co-produced the award-winning 1991 documentary, “Amazonia: Voices From the Rainforest.” 

Partners Speaking at the UN Water Conference:

Mariluz Canaquiri Murayari, president of the Federation of Kukama Indigenous Women, Huaynakana Kamatahuara

Mariluz Canaquiri Murayari, president of the Federation of Kukama Indigenous Women, “Huaynakana Kamatahuara”(working women). She has more than 30 years of experience dedicated to the territorial defense of the Kukama Kukamiria nation, to which she belongs in Peru. She has worked tirelessly in the defense of the Marañón River, which is her home and that of her ancestors, and of her integral territory as a Kukama nation. The objective of Huaynakana is to promote the leadership of Kukama women in defense of their territory, their bodies and their collective rights, promoting self-recognition of their ancestral roots and recovering their mother tongue. 

President of the Pueblo Shuar Arutam of Ecuador, Josefina Tunki, during a protest along with other Shuar women.
Photo: Comunicación PSHA

Josefina Tunki is president of the Shuar Arutam People (PSHA) of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Called among her people a ‘brave woman’, Josefina is the first Shuar female leader, and she firmly stands in defense of the Amazon against extractive activities that consistently violate the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the environment. She is also leading the defense of the Santiago River where a megadam is proposed, which would impact her people and the Wampis Indigenous peoples downstream in Peru. Learn more her leadership and communities’  from the recent Mongabay article

Brook Thompson

Brook Thompson is a Yurok and Karuk Native American from Northern California. Brook fights for water and Native American rights through public speaking, academic research, and frontline activism. She currently works as a Restoration Engineer for the Yurok Tribe’s fisheries Design and Construction Program. Brook was awarded the American Indian Graduate Center’s Undergraduate student of the year and won Unity’s 25 Under 25 award. Thompson’s goal is to bring together water rights and Native American knowledge through engineering, public policy, and social action. Watch Brook speak (starting at about 55 minutes, 45 seconds in) at last year’s UN Climate meeting COP27 in Egypt.

International Rivers’ schedule of events at the UN Water Conference

Join in person or watch online. 

Tuesday, March 21st

Red Por Los Ríos Libres en Chile: Una Experiencia 

Time: 11:00 am CLST/10:00am EDT 

Online link: Watch live on Facebook stream by Codesa Aysen

Wednesday, March 22nd

Turning the tide on the freshwater biodiversity crisis

This panel will discuss effective measures to accelerate the achievement of SDG6.6, highlight innovative approaches to upscale restoration efforts and safeguard water-related ecosystems.

Time: 11:00am – 12:15pm EDT

In-person location: The Nature Hub, Apella, 450 East 29th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY, 10016

Online link:

Special Event: Radical Collaboration for Water Resilience: Action with our greatest Allies in the Climate Crisis

Time: 3:00 – 6:00pm EDT

In-person location: Conference Room 2, United National Headquarters (UNHQ) in New York City

Online live-streaming at the UN web TV: 

Thursday, March 23rd

Side event: Cooperation and Social Participation for the Water Management

Time: 8:30 – 10:00 am EDT

Online link: Register today!

Towards just water governance in Colombia: A dialogue on the Transformative Water Pact

Time: 8:00am Bogota/9:00am EDT

Online: Free registration: (Spanish, English and French)

Official event: Reducing inequalities – implementing Human Rights

Time: 10:00 am-1:00pm EDT

In-person location: Conference Room 2, UNHQ in New York City

Online live-streaming at the UN web TV: 

Side event: Water for Nature, Nature for Water: Policies, Solutions and Commitments for Sustainable Development 

Time: 11:00am – 12:15pm EDT

In-person location: UNHQ, Side Event Room C

Online link: Coming soon. More information can be found here

Friday, March 24th

Facilitating Access to knowledge about Water (Facilitando o acesso do conhecimento sobre a água)

Time: 11:00am – 1:00pm BRT/10:00 am – Noon EDT

Online link: Watch live on AESabesp’s YouTube Channel

Rights of Nature UN Water Conference event on March 24th

Side event: Rights of Nature: The missing connection to enhance and implement the SDGs on Water

Time: 3:30 – 4:45pm EDT

In-person location: UNHQ, Conference Room A

Register to watch live on zoom: