World Water day, held on 22 March every year since 1993, celebrates the importance of freshwater while simultaneously raising awareness for the 2.2 billion people living without it. It also supports the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6; water and sanitation for all by 2030. It was first proposed at the United Nations (UN) conference on environment and development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and has been celebrated annually on 22 March since then.
The right to clean water and sanitation was recognised as a human right by the UN General Assembly in 2010. However, it is estimated that still more than 700 children under the age of seven die every day from illnesses linked to impure water and poor sanitation. The fundamental problem of increasing demand for a limited resource such as water can only be addressed by its more efficient use, especially in industry and agriculture. Waste-water recycling, capturing rainwater, more efficient irrigation techniques and reforestation are all examples of how water can be used more efficiently.
At the UN-Water meeting in Rome, it was decided that “Groundwater: making the invisible visible” will be the theme for the World Water Day 2022. Groundwater is a vital resource that provides almost half of all drinking water worldwide yet it is out of sight and out of mind for most people. A World Water Day on groundwater would highlight this invisible resource, and thereby increase the awareness of the importance of taking care of our groundwater.The campaign will explain how exploring, protecting and sustainably using groundwater is vital to surviving and adapting to climate change and meeting the needs of a growing population.
International days like this are opportunities to educate the public on issues of concern, to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool.