|World Water Day|
A World Water Day celebration in Kenya in 2010
|Observed by||People and organizations worldwide, including all UN member states|
|First time||22 March 1993|
|Related to||Water, Sustainable development, Sustainability|
World Water Day is an annual UN observance day (always on 22 March) that highlights the importance of freshwater. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. World Water Day is celebrated around the world with a variety of events. These can be educational, theatrical, musical or lobbying in nature. The day can also include campaigns to raise money for water projects. The first World Water Day, designated by the United Nations, was in 1993. Each year many countries celebrate World Water Day.
UN-Water is the convener for World Water Day and selects a theme for each year in consultation with UN organizations that share an interest in that year's focus. The theme for 2019 is "Leaving no one behind" and encourages people to consider marginalized groups as these are often overlooked and discriminated against when they try to access safe water. Previous themes for the years 2014 to 2018 were "Water and energy", "Water and Sustainable Development", "Water and Jobs'", "Why waste water?" and "Nature for Water".
The focus on universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is in line with the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6. The UN World Water Development Report (WWDR) is released each year around World Water Day.
Relevant issues include water scarcity, water pollution, inadequate water supply, lack of sanitation, and the impacts of climate change (which is set to be the theme of World Water Day 2020). The day brings to light the inequality of access to WASH services and the need to assure the human right to water and sanitation.
The World Water Day website announces events, activities and volunteer opportunities. In 2018, stories are about "Nature and water from around the world" in keeping with the theme of "Nature for water".
UN-Water coordinates activities with UN member organisations who share an interest in that year's theme. UN-Water mobilizes organizations of all kinds to action, whether globally or locally.
Non-governmental organizations active in the WASH sector, such as UNICEF, WaterAid and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), use the day to raise public awareness, get media attention for water issues and inspire action. Activities have included releasing publications and films, as well as organizing round tables, seminars and expositions.
The UN World Water Development Report (WWDR) is released each year on World Water Day. Information related to the annual theme gives decision-makers tools to implement sustainable use of water resources.
More and more initiatives in schools and universities are educating people about the importance of conserving and managing water resources. For example, Michigan State University held a contest for "best World Water Day poster" in 2017. Primary school children in the Philippines participated in a "My School Toilet" contest in 2010.
This day was first formally proposed in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. In December 1992, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/47/193 by which 22 March of each year was declared World Day for Water.
In 1993, the first World Water Day was observed.
The theme of 2019 is about tackling the water crisis by addressing the reasons why so many people are being left behind. Marginalized groups – women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people – are often overlooked, and may face discrimination, as they try to access safe water. UN Water asserts that "water services must meet the needs of marginalized groups and their voices must be heard in decision-making processes".
The theme in 2018 explored how nature can be used to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century. This could be in the form of nature-based solutions to water-related challenges. For example, reducing floods, droughts, water pollution and protecting ecosystems could be solved using natural means, which nature uses, rather than man-made approaches. Restoring wetlands, implementing constructed wetlands, green roofs, green infrastructure, planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, are some examples. Each of these use natural processes to rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.
In 2017, the theme was "Why Waste Water?" which was about reducing and reusing wastewater. The theme was a play on words as it related to both the aspect of wasting water and issues around wastewater, namely treatment and reuse. Wastewater is a valuable resource to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goal Number 6. One aspect of Target 6.3 is to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and also to increase the recycling and safe reuse of water across the globe. After appropriate treatment, wastewater can be used for a variety of purposes. Industry, for example, can reuse water in cooling towers and agriculture can reuse water for irrigation.
An example activity for 2017 was the Wikipedia edit-a-thon organized by members of the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance on 19–21 March 2017. The purpose of the activity was to improve water and sanitation related content on Wikipedia just ahead of World Water Day. The goal was to improve the quantity and quality of sanitation information available on Wikipedia for the use of teachers, journalists and the general public.
The 2016 theme of "Better water, better jobs" highlighted the correlation between water and job creation, both directly and indirectly, by water sources around the globe. The theme led to a collaboration with the International Labour Organization. As water scarcity becomes more of a reality, industries heavily dependent on water like textiles and agriculture are at risk of increased costs, which threatens salaries and jobs. Increased costs may then be passed on to consumers.
The theme also highlights how an abundance of quality water can change people's jobs and lives for the better. The 2016 celebration created recognition for those working to improve water quality and availability, and the need for many to transition to other and better jobs. Three out of four of jobs worldwide are water-dependent. Water shortages and lack of access may limit economic growth in the years to come, according to the 2016 United Nations World Water Development Report.
With the theme ‘Water and Sustainable Development’, the year 2015 provided an important opportunity to consolidate and build upon the previous World Water Days to highlight water's role in the sustainable development agenda. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were to have been achieved by 2015, so the year lent itself to discussions of the post-MDG period and aspirations for water and sustainable development. With the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), World Water Day gave specific emphasis to SDG 6, which calls for water and sanitation for all, by encouraging discussion of how SDG 6 could be achieved by 2030.
The 2014 theme of Water and Energy emphasized the close linkages and interdependence of water and energy and brought attention to the water-energy nexus. About 8% of the energy generated globally is used for pumping, treating and transporting water to various consumers. Furthermore, generating and transmitting energy requires the use of water resources, particularly for hydroelectric, nuclear, and thermal energy sources.
The aim of that year's theme was to facilitate the development of policies and crosscutting frameworks that would bridge ministries and sectors. It was meant to lead the way to energy security and sustainable water use in a green economy.
Journalists from 11 countries in Asia met in Tokyo from 20–21 March 2014 to discuss the importance of water. The event included discussion panels on topics such as privatization of services, integration between water and energy and modernization of water services. The journalists also developed four joint stories and 20 individual story ideas for a network of Asian journalists writing on water (and energy) in social media.
In the years prior to 2014, the annual themes were as follows:
In 2016, the World Water Day campaign and related publications reached millions of people through social media, dedicated websites and other channels: The UN-Water annual report states that social media engagement (hashtag #WorldWaterDay) had a maximum potential reach of 1.6 billion people worldwide in 2016.:21 Over 500 events in 1000 countries were registered on the World Water Day website that year.:21