Water Day is an annual event that looks at the global issues surrounding access to clean, safe drinking water and sanitation.
This year’s Water Day is focusing on the link between water and climate change, and how the two are linked. The UN has said: “Adapting to the water effects of climate change will protect health and save lives.”
Water is such a precious commodity that many take for granted. World Water Day is a chance to think about those people and places where water needs are still paramount, and seek to work together to find a solution.
History of Water Day
It is an extremely sad but true fact: across the world there are 783 million people who still do not have access to clean water. While over 2.5 million people from across the globe still lack access to adequate sanitation facilities. This concerning lack of accessible options for meeting these two basic human needs is a tragedy that people from across the globe are looking to reduce and manage, bringing clean water and better sanitation facilities to underprivileged communities across the world.
The first Water Day was proposed in Agenda 22 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development that was held in Rio de Janeiro. In December of that year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution that on the 22nd of March each year, Water Day would be held; a day dedicated to raising awareness around global water-related issues, with the key focus being on ensuring every community has access to a clean water supply. In March 1993, the first Water Day was held, and has been held every year since then.
It’s from this need for clean water and adequate sanitation facilities for all, that Water Day was born. The United Nations decided to set up Water Day to help combat the clean water and sanitation crisis ongoing across the globe. The aim of Water Day is to provide people with a day where they can focus on helping and supporting communities across the globe in gaining access to safe and clean water and safe sanitation facilities.
Water Day also focuses on how normal people can help others in affected communities to reclaim their dignity while also improving their long-term health and wellbeing through access to clean, safe water.
Each year, certain other issues are also highlighted, such as safeguarding aquatic eco-systems local to communities.
Water Day primarily focuses on access to clean water and adequate sanitation but it also looks at a number of water-related issues impacting the wider community.
Learn more about Water Day
Each year, the UN selects a theme for Water Day and focuses the entire celebration around this theme. The theme for Water Day 2020 is ‘Water and Climate Change’ and will explore how these two themes are closely linked.
The focus of Water Day, which looks to provide universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene meets targets of Sustainable Development Goals set out in the UN World Water Development Report.
This year’s Water Day focuses on the close link between water and climate change and looks at how, as a global community, we cannot afford to wait to take action. The UN states that: “Climate delay is almost as dangerous as climate denial. Every country in the world must work more quickly.”
The UN has also highlighted the fact that extreme weather events have begun to make water more scarce, more unpredictable, and more polluted. They have also looked at how we, as a society, need water to survive and as do the systems we rely on, including our healthcare, sanitation, education, business, and multiple industries.
The UN has said that action plans are vital for success when it comes to tackling climate change and that they need to be integrated across various sectors to prove effective.
How to celebrate Water Day
Every year, Water Day and its campaigns target millions of people via social media, traditional marketing, and PR. There are also a number of dedicated websites and channels utilized by the UN for promoting, and raising awareness of, Water Day.
In 2017, for instance, 700 individual events were held in 110 countries, while there were over 500,000 authors active on social media using the dedicated hashtag: ‘#WorldWaterDay’. In 2018, there was an increase of 25% in the number of visits the Water Day website received as well as the maximum potential reach on social media growing larger.
Celebrities are also a key part of Water Day and how it is celebrated; with a number of well-known celebrities becoming part of the annual Water Day celebrations.
Interestingly, in 2016 the UN’s annual water report noted that social media engagement via the dedicated hashtag had a huge reach, with the potential of the message reaching a whooping 1.6 billion people.
People from across the globe get involved in Water Day events, and are encouraged by the UN to ‘do their bit’ with the key message being that ‘we cannot afford to wait – everyone has a role to play’. The UN encourages people to ‘do their bit’ by taking the time to learn what taking action means, sharing campaign messages far and wide, and taking steps to act and help in one way or another.
Every year, communities from across the globe get involved in supporting Water Day. What’s fantastic about this global event is the fact that there are a wide number of ways that every community can get involved.
There are a variety of options available to choose from, such as holding charity concerts, film screenings, and competitions, or hosting debates about the year’s focal topic, planning fundraising events, like swim marathons, triathlons, races, sports days, and fun runs, or organizing marches to raise awareness.
As well as face-to-face events, there are also a number of virtual events held each year. These consist of different activities, from social media debates and community chats to live webinars and Facebook virtual events. If you’re unable to take part in Water Day by attending an event being held, that does not mean that you are unable to get involved.