World Water Day
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 commemorated 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.
Objectives and structure
Children presenting a puppet show for the “My School Toilet” contest in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, for World Water Day in 2010. World Water Day is an international observance day. The intention is to inspire people around the world to learn more about water-related issues and to take action to make a difference.
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. In 2016 the “Water and Jobs” theme led to a collaboration with the International Labour Organization. UN-Water mobilizes organizations of all kinds to action, whether globally or locally.
Examples of activities
Non-governmental organizations active in the WASH sector, such as UNICEF, Water Aid 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.
End Water Poverty, a global civil society coalition with 250 partner organizations, sponsors Water Action Month each year and offers an event-planning guidebook.
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.
Editor: South African water theme for 2019:Leave no one behind.
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