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York University named academic lead in the UN’s new global Water Academy

York University named academic lead in the UN’s new global Water Academy

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York University named academic lead in the UN’s new global Water Academy

UNITAR and York University proudly announce the launch of the “Water Academy” in the framework of the UN 2023 Water Conference [1].

Between 22-24 March 2023, The UN 2023 Water Conference reconvenes after nearly 50 years since the 1977 UN Water Conference. The Conference serves as an opportunity for Member States, UN entities, and stakeholders to share commitments that aim to contribute to the implementation of water-related SDGs and associated targets. These voluntary commitments will be collected in the Water Action Agenda to accelerate progress in the second half of the Water Action Decade 2018-2028 and the second half of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Water Academy - a concrete outcome of UNITAR’s participation in the UN 2023 Water Conference - will bring together leading academic institutions and business Executives from the five largest beverage companies worldwide. While York University will serve as the Academic Lead of the Water Academy as one of the world’s academic leading institutions on water-related issues, other renowned academic institutions will also take part in this initiative, including Georgia Institute of Technology and Nova-School of Business and Economics (Nova SBE). From the private sector, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Diageo, Danone, Heineken, and Pernod Ricard remain committed to contributing to address complex and pressing water management challenges, shared the goals of the Academy and stand ready to support its work.

The Water Academy is focused on delivering innovative training and building human capacities on pressing water-related issues at a large scale, this multi-stakeholder collaboration seeks to innovate with industry partners to:

  1. Promote knowledge transfer and capacity sharing
  2. Offer a hybrid way of learning
  3. Develop scientifically based water solutions that inform water policies and programmes
  4. Measure and monitor impact and promote replicability of water management practice
  5. Facilitate conversations and partnerships to enhance our understanding of water issues
  6. Advance SDG 6 - Support capacity building of sustainable management of water especially for Indigenous communities and marginalized/equity-deserving groups.

As an education platform for online, offline, and immersive learning it has two-fold objectives:

  • Forging skills and knowledge such that water management practices can be replicated and scalable
  • Forging awareness and a water culture based on ethics and responsibility come from a different attitude to how water is perceived and used.

"The water crisis is a global equity issue that disproportionately impacts racialized, low-income, and other marginalized communities,” says Rhonda Lenton, president and vice-chancellor of York University. “By working together with UNITAR and as the academic lead on a new Water Academy, York University is demonstrating the important role of higher education in addressing these issues and advancing Sustainable Development Goals through scholarship and activism. York’s long-standing commitment to driving positive change through our commitment to the SDGs and its strengths in interdisciplinary research in water sustainability, make York well-equipped to lead the Water Academy with our partners to build capacity in sustainable water management practices to benefit communities across the globe".

In line with UNITAR’s mandate of providing innovative learning solutions and strengthening capacities of individuals, organizations and institutions to tackle global challenges, the newly created “Water Academy will draw expertise from researchers, hydrologists, faculty experts and students alike from York University (Canada) as Academic Lead, Nova School of Business and Economics (Portugal) and Georgia Institute of Technology (USA), all collaborating on different projects related to various water disciplines while mobilizing actions and support from the largest beverage companies across the globe, highlighted Mr Nikhil Seth, UN Assistant Secretary General and Executive Director of UNITAR. “The collaboration with York University to create the Water Academy recognizes its vision and leadership to become Canada's leader in research into water technologies spanning different sub-disciplines including wastewater, drinking water, groundwater, and surface water research” expressed Mr Seth.

[1] Refer to the General Assembly Resolution 75/212 of 21 December 2020 on the United Nations Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018–2028.


York University is a modern, multi-campus, urban university located in Toronto, Ontario. Backed by a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners, we bring a uniquely global perspective to help solve societal challenges, drive positive change and prepare our students for success. York's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education. York’s campuses in Costa Rica and India offer students exceptional transnational learning opportunities and innovative programs. Together, we can make things right for our communities, our planet, and our future.

Media Contact: Barbara Joy, Executive Director, Media Relations and External Communications, York University, 416-333-3374,