| AWWA members join roundtable associated with United Nations water conference
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AWWA members join roundtable associated with United Nations water conference

In conjunction with this spring’s United Nations (UN) 2023 Water Conference, held in New York March 22-25, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) co-hosted an event with several of its international partners, including World Bank.

Loren Labovitch, standing second from right, during roundtable discussionThe water partners event was a roundtable discussion, “Empowering Women, Youth and Indigenous Persons to Accelerate Global Water Security in the Water Action Decade.” It brought together member states’ representatives, young water professionals, Indigenous leaders and development partners to discuss concrete actions to accelerate progress in women, youth and Indigenous persons representation in water sector decision-making. 

The roundtable discussion touched on the key objective of the broader UN 2023 Water Conference, which was to support achievement of the internationally agreed water-related goals and targets, including those contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

One of the roundtable participants was Loren Labovitch, a member of AWWA’s International Council and vice president of international development for Stantec. (Pictured above, Labovitch, standing second from right, during roundtable discussion.)

Loren-Labovitch.png"It’s important to pursue global water security in an equitable and inclusive manner, recognizing that water is valued, used, and managed differently by different people," said Labovitch. “Solutions for improving water security and achieving universal access to safe and reliable water and sanitation must take these differences into account.”

The broader UN water conference, co-hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of Tajikistan, was structured to help define a roadmap and advance the water agenda supporting the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework. In addition to plenary sessions and interactive dialogues, high-level special events and more than 500 side events took place during the conference.

Discussions within the roundtable contributed to the UN water accelerators of data and information, capacity building, and innovation to achieve measurable outcomes. Some of the sub-themes were:

  • Scaling up and creating building blocks for gender benchmarking and diversity in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) institutions
  • Introducing benchmarking on gender diversity and representation at decision-making levels
  • Successful experiences of youth & Indigenous engagement in decision-making processes
  • Enhancing women’s effective voice and influence in water associations

Speaker Dra. Myrna Cunningham, Indigenous Leader of the Miskito Community of Waspam"I really think this starts at the top,” Labovitch said. “Business leaders, utility managers, and policy makers need to lead the way in making social diversity and inclusion a priority. 

"A commitment to diversity must be part of the culture and fabric of an organization in order for material changes to occur,” he added. “Executives must lead by example and incentivize staff to follow to promote inclusion in both the workplace and customer relations. This was highlighted by several of the speakers at the World Bank event." (Pictured right, speaker Dr. Myrna Cunningham, Indigenous Leader of the Miskito Community of Waspam.)