Earth DayNatural Resources

World Water Day: History, Themes and Celebrations

World water day is held on 22nd March every year. We celebrate the day to get attention to one of the leading environmental issues, “Scarcity of water.” Water is life, and we cannot even imagine our life without water.

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Water means a lot to us more than just to quench our thirst, but it plays the role of a vital component of human development. This day provides us an opportunity to think about this issue and how we can make a difference. 

World Water Day History

In 1992, 22nd March was declared as World Water Day when the UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/47/193 of 22nd December. Since 1993, we observe the day as a world day of water every year to raise awareness about water resources conservation.  

World Water Day 1994-1997

World water day 1994 was the beginning of the international event to unite the world together to conserve water. This year the day was celebrated with the theme ‘caring for our water resources is everyone’s business.’  

WWD 1995, this was the first time when Lesotho celebrated the day on 22nd March. The WWD theme for this year was ‘Women and Water.’ The Department of Water Affairs Organized two main activities to celebrate the day- on water pollution and environmental degradation. 

In 1996, the world celebrated the third WWD global event. The Philippines joined the event this year by organizing various activities by the PWP members (Philippine Water Partnership).

In 1997, the 1st World Water Forum, Marrakesh, was held with a vision for water, life, and the environment. There were four sessions- perspective on world water, on the road towards a long-term vision for world water, the challenges of the 21st Century-celebration of world water day, and challenges of the 21st century. 

World Water Day 1998-2001

WWD 1998 was the 6th annual celebration of the international event. As per the recommendations of the 17th meet of the ACC Sub-Committee on water resources, UNICEF & UNDESA took the lead in conducting the observance of WWD 1998.  

The excessive flood that occurred in significant rivers in the world in 1998 caused thousands of deaths & massive damage in India, China & Bangladesh. This year UNEP was coordinating UN agency to address the world on WWD 1999.

In 2000, the second world water forum and the ministerial conference was held in the Netherlands in the week before WWD on 22nd March 2000. From 17th to 22nd March, many water specialists, politicians, experts, and officials assemble in the conference in the Hague from different parts of the globe.  

In 2001, the WHO was coordinating the UN agency for the WWD event. The day’s actual message was to put necessary efforts to provide clean drinking water & improve the health of thousands of people suffering from contaminated drinking water.

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World Water Day 2002- 2005

The theme for WWD 2002 was “Water for Development.” The International Atomic Energy Agency was the lead UN agency for WWD 2002. The states with insufficient and deteriorating water resources in different parts of the planet need integrated planning & management for water resources.

UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) was in the lead role for the world water day 2003 event. The day aims to inspire political & community action and encourage greater global understanding to conserve water with more responsibility.

In 2004, the events for the day were conducted by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the World Meteorological Organization. The core message of WWD this year was- weather, climate & water resources can have harmful impacts on socio-economic development and humans health.

The UN General Assembly at its 58th session in December 2003 agreed to proclaim the years 2005 to 2015 as the International Decade for Action- “Water for Life.” The beginning of this action plan was the world water day of 2005.

World Water Day 2006-2009

The theme for WWD 2006 was “water and culture” under the leadership of UNESCO. The international event this year drew attention to the fact that there are many ways to use, view, and celebrate water as there are several cultural traditions across the globe. 

In 2007, water scarcity was the main topic for WWD worldwide event. The United Nations FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) conducted ceremonies to celebrate the day. The ceremonies included an opening address from FAO Secretary-General Jaques Diouf and a video address from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon & Green Cross International President Michail Gorbachev.

In 2008, the UN took a crucial topic for the WWD celebration “sanitation.” This was a very challenging topic and a big crisis. It was estimated that poor sanitation was affecting more than one in three people on Earth. To spread awareness on sanitation, the ceremonies for the day were held in Geneva, Switzerland. 

The main focus of WWD 2009 was placed on transboundary waters to build mutual respect, understanding & trust among the countries to promote peaceful and sustainable economic growth. This year, the UNESCO led the event’s activities with the support of UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) & FAO (Food Agricultural Organization) of the UN.

Word Water Day 2010-2013

In 2010, the highlight of the WWD event was water quality. On 22nd March 2010, UNESCO and WWF-France hold a round table debate at Organization Headquarters on “Water Quality, Quality of Life” as the theme for this year was “clean water for a healthy world.”  

World water day 2011 aims to focus on international attention on the effects of sharp population growth, industrial growth, environmental issues like climate change, global warming, etc. Echoing with the theme “water for cities,” the event’s main objective was to encourage govt., organizations, communities, individuals, etc. to participate actively in addressing the challenge of urban water management

WWD 2012 was celebrated around the world with a lot of enthusiasm. Different countries took part in the celebrations this year. For example- In Thailand, the day was celebrated at the UN Conference Centre (UNCC), Bangkok, in coordination with the United Nations ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) and FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization). United States Embassy in Thailand also joined the celebrations as a key partner. 

Global Water Partnership (GWP) took part in the celebrations by conducting various activities like photo contests, water debates, water walks, competition among school children, public meetings, etc.

World Water Day 2014-2017

The theme for this year’s WWD was water and energy. Water plays a vital role in energy generation. The World Water Council had been exploring the link between these two terms since 2011 through their partnership with EDF.

The official celebration for the event in 2014 took place at UNU Headquarter Building, Tokyo, Japan. UNU and UNIDO co-organized the main events on behalf of Un-Water. 

It was a two days event (on 20th and 21st March). On 20th March, the event was “Asia Pacific Regional Symposium: The Water-Energy Nexus in Asia.” On 21st March, it was organized as a full-day event that included expert dialogues, a high-level policy panel, and launched the World Water Development Report 2014. 

In 2015, the world water day website went live. It took the visitor on a journey to learn more about water & sustainable development. The visitor went through short informative texts & visual before proposing the ideas on the celebrations of WWD. There was also an event section where the organizations, groups, or individuals could find an event happening in their region.

On the international event of world water day 2016, the day was celebrated at UNESCO-IHE by the students and the staff members posing with statements about what water means to them. In 2016, the official event was held in Geneva at the ILO Headquarters on behalf of UN-Water.

In 2017, ESCWA (Economic & Social Commission for Western Asia) organized a regional event to celebrate WWD in collaboration with UNESCO, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation of Jordan, The Govt. of Sweden, and the ACWUA (Arab Countries Water Utilities Association). The event was held at the Kempinski Hotel in Amman. The event covered many programs, including the regional launch of WWDR (World Water Development Report) 2017.

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World Water Day 2018-2019

In 2018, the campaign for WWD was called ‘the answer is in nature,’ and the attention was drawn to explore nature-based solutions (NBS) to the water challenges we face in the 21st century. This campaign’s actual focus was that NBS (such as planting trees, restoring wetlands, etc.) is a sustainable and cost-effective way. The NBS was expected to help rebalance the water cycle and minimize climate change impacts to improve environmental health.  

As the theme for WWD 2019 was “Leaving no one behind,” which adapts the central promise of the agenda 2030 for sustainable development, which will benefit everyone. 

This sustainable development goal was very transparent, where there will be water for all by 2030.  

World Water Day 2020

World water day of 2020 was focused on exploring the link between water and climate change. The growing population is the main reason for the depletion of natural resources, including water. We must use water much sensibly that everybody gets the supply of water.

Due to the pandemic situation of COVID-19, many events were canceled this year. The WWD campaign by the UN this year aims to spotlight that how sensible use of natural resources can help to minimize the risks of flood, drought, scarcity, pollution and also to fight against climate change

The UN campaign of WWD 2020 focused majorly on the importance of hand wash & hygiene as the world faces the COVID-19 outbreak. The campaign’s primary urge to everyone was regular hand wash with soap & water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 

On WWD 2020, IWA (International Water Association) has organized an Online Panel Discussion on the topic to raise awareness of water’s importance. 

World Water Day Themes

The theme of world water day of 2021 is “valuing water.” The focus will be on saving water worldwide and helping the needy ones.

WWD theme 2020  Water and Climate Change
WWD theme 2019  Leaving No One Behind
world water day theme 2018  Nature for Water
WWD theme 2017  Why Waste Water?
WWD theme 2016  Better Water, Better Jobs
world water day theme 2015  Water and Sustainable Development
WWD theme 2014  Water and Energy
WWD theme 2013  International Year of Cooperation
world water day theme 2012  Water and Food Security
WWD theme 2011  Water for Cities
WWD theme 2010  Clean Water for a Healthy World
world water day theme 2009  Trans Waters
WWD theme 2008  Sanitation
WWD theme 2007  Coping with Water Scarcity
world water day theme 2006  Water and Culture
WWD theme 2005  Water for Life Decade
WWD theme 2004  Water and Disaster
world water day theme 2003  Water for Future
WWD theme 2002  Water for Development
WWD theme 2001  Water for Health
world water day theme 2000  Water for the 21st century
WWD theme 1999  Everyone Lives Downstream
WWD theme 1998  Groundwater the Invisible Resource
world water day theme 1997  The World’s Water: Is there enough?
WWD theme 1996  Water for Thirsty Cities
WWD theme 1995  Women and Water
world water day theme 1994  Caring for Our Water Resources is Everybody’s Business

How Can We Celebrate World Water Day?

World water day is celebrated with a lot of passion worldwide, including various events and activities. You can also be a part of the celebration. Here are some ideas to celebrate WWD.

  1. You can visit the world water day’s website to know the theme, activities, and events of the WWD. Just check if there is any activity that you can join. Take the initiative and get involved in the celebrations. 
  2. Practice using water sensibly to avoid wastage of water. Do not forget to shut the faucet while brushing your teeth.
  3. Prefer to take a shower instead of a bucket filled with water or using a bathtub.
  4. You can watch documentaries based on the water crisis along with your family. It will probably inspire you to take the necessary actions to conserve water.
  5. It would be best to educate your kids from today itself to become a responsible person tomorrow and understand the importance of natural resources.
  6. You can involve your kids in a fun way through drawing making or story-telling to celebrate the WWD.
  7. Plant more and more trees to help the environment. It will improve soil quality, prevent soil erosion, prevent flooding, and minimize climate change impacts.
  8. Prefer to use recycled goods for grocery shopping. The reason is it takes less water and energy to recycle material than it takes to start with raw material. 
  9. You can make a group with your friends or family and organize your own event on WWD like cleaning of river banks, ponds or lakes, etc.
  10. You can also discuss with your friends, family & relatives to raise awareness on water conservation.

Water is the basic need of our life; it cannot be compromised at any cost. Unfortunately, the water resources are contaminated and misused to the extreme level that we have reached a severe water scarcity level today. We need to focus on the responsible use of water resources to conserve them for the upcoming generations.

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