On March 22nd every year, the member nations of the United Nations seek to bring awareness to worldwide water issues that affect our time. Although originally proposed at a United Nations conference in Brazil in 1992, “World Day for Water” was officially declared in 1993, and has seen an increase in popularity since then.
Also known as World Water Day, the public is encouraged to refrain from using their taps for the duration of March 22nd, and has even prompted the emergence of a Facebook trend. The UN utilizes this day to promote recommendations and apply country specific activities that relate to the water conditions of the region. World Water Day has a new theme each year, with one of the various UN water agencies in charge of coordinating projects relevant to the theme. Since 2003, the theme is selected by UN-Water, along with determining which UN agency will take the lead.
Aside from the members of the United Nations, a variety of environmental groups and other non-governmental organizations that focus on water conservation and related issues use World Water Day to draw attention to their causes and educate the public on water concerns. From the promotion of clean water to sustaining aquatic environments, World Water Day has been an outlet for a variety of groups to spread their messages.
Thousands of participants gather every three years for the World Water Forum, which is typically held during the week of March 22nd. This forum combines participating agencies with other organizations and strives to feature concerns that are most pressing at the time, such as the fact that a billion people are in need of safe, clean drinking water, and what access to safe water has to do with gender roles in a family. From this forum, the UN World Water Development Report originates, and is documented on World Water Day.
Past themes have included: “Clean Water for a Healthy World (2010)”, “Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge (2011)”, “Water and Food Security: The World is Thirsty Because We are Hungry (2012)” and last year’s “Water Cooperation (2013)”.
The 2014 World Water Day theme is Water and Energy. The UN is looking to World Water Day to provide public awareness to the correlation between water and energy, focusing on making a water and energy efficient industry that is environmentally friendly, a real possibility. UN-Water has chosen United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and United Nations University institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) to lead this year’s World Water Day activities.
Regardless of the theme, every World Water Day seeks to raise attention to the needs of those without access to freshwater, the need for water conservation, safe sanitation practices, and sustainable water usage in both industry and home environments. The freshwater concerns affecting the entire world are highlighted and addressed by government agencies and other organizations, and the public is made aware of all water related issues whether they are in their own backyard or miles away in another country.
Rumor Has It …
… that World Water Day was once called “Waterworld” Day but because of the association with Kevin Costner’s flop movie, the United Nations came up with several other alternatives before the final name including WaterUN Day, UnWater Day, Sugar-Free and Caffeine-Free Clear Beverage Day and Yo Yo H2O Day.