In March 2023, thousands of people from various disciplines came together in New York for the United Nations 2023 Water Conference. The attendees included policymakers, activists, professionals and academics, all with an interest in the water sector. The conference provided a platform to share knowledge and exchange ideas about water-related challenges. Through a combination of in-house and side events, participants were provided with the opportunity to voice their concerns, engage in crucial discussions and exchange novel insights, despite the predominantly scripted nature of the event as a forum tailored for politicians and policymakers. The Water Conference identified risks ensuing from the number of short-term commitments, unclear funding and the lack of quantifiable measurements (President of the General Assembly 2023). The Water Conference also saw the adoption of the Water Action Agenda (United Nations 2023), consisting of voluntary commitments in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and focusing on water. Crafting these commitments posed a challenge, highlighting the complex nature of the United Nations’ efforts in fostering collaboration among people representing diverse backgrounds, interests, cultures and histories.