A selection of UN TV programmes, webcasts and video clips on issues in the news

Monday, 18 March 2013

The 20th Anniversary of World Water Day

World Water Day

 High-Level Interactive Dialogue of the UN General Assembly on Water Cooperation ,

At the occasion of  World Water Day, Friday, 22 March 2013.

Background : At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 (Rio+20), Member States recognized that “water is at the core of sustainable development as it is closely linked to a number of key global challenges”. Water is essential for human health and well-being, food and energy production, social and economic stability, and for protecting and maintaining healthy ecosystems.But water is also a finite and vulnerable resource under mounting pressure.

 Around the world, freshwater resources are threatened by climate change, urbanization, population growth, pollution and other drivers of change. Analysis suggest that by 2030 demand for freshwater will outstrip supply by 40 percent. Between 2000 and 2050, the number of people living in river basins under severe water stress is expected to more than double, reaching almost 4 billion people. While too little water can have devastating effects on humanity, too much water can also be fatal. In recent decades, the frequency and intensity of water-related disasters such as floods and droughts have been rising substantially, claiming the lives of millions of people and damaging the economies of many countries.

The UN General Assembly declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation (A/RES/65/154). Enhancing cooperation and building partnerships at the local, national and transboundary levels will be critical to address freshwater-related challenges. A wide range of activities around the world will help raise awareness on the potential and challenges to water cooperation, facilitate dialogue among stakeholders and promote innovative solutions. This year’sWorld Water Day 2013 on 22 March will be also de dicated to the theme of water cooperation.

International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the commemoration of World Water Day Day and in this regard, the event will provide an opportunity to share experiences and highlight the lessons learnt over the past 20 years.
Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. On this page, we present a brief overview of the different themes that have been the focus of World Water Day celebrations.


    Draft Programme of High-Level Interactive Dialogue of the UN General Assembly on Water Cooperation 
10:00 – 11:00 - Opening Session
• H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic, President of UN General Assembly
• H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General (tbc)
• H.E. Mr. Okil Okilov, Prime Minister of Tajikistan
• H.E. Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water,United Arab Emirates
• H.E. Mr. Federico Ramos de Armas, State Secretary of Environment, Spain

11:00 – 11:20 - Videolink to the official World Water Day in the Hague (GA Hall)

11:30 – 13:00 - Panel 1: Setting the Stage - Issues, Challenges and Opportunities for WaterCooperation
Moderator: Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General

• HE Mr. M. Salem Ould Merzoug, High Commissioner of the Senegal RiverOrganization (OMVS) and President of the International Network of RiverBasin Organizations (INBO)
• Dr. Zafar Adeel, Director, UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health(UNU-INWEH)
• Dr. Uschi Eid, Vice-Chair of the UN SG’s Advisory Board on Water andSanitation and Co-Chair of the Bonn 2011 water, energy and food securityconference
• Other panelists have been contacted

Interactive dialogue
 13:00 – 15:00 - Lunch break (Side event: hosted by Spain “Achieving the MDGs through Governance of Water and Sanitation. The Experience of the MDG Fund”; Conference room 7, NLB,13.15-14.30 hrs)
15:00 – 16:40 - Panel 2: Exploring Proposals, Strategies and Cooperative Solutions for the Period after 2015, Moderator: tbc

• Ms. Kusum Athukorala, Researcher and Advocacy Specialist, Chair of NetWater and the Sri Lanka Water Partnership (tbc)
• Mr. Jeremy Bird, Director General of the International Water Management Institute
 • Prof. Benedito Braga, President of the World Water Council
 Ms. Julia Bucknall, Head of Water, World Bank
• Mr. Jason Morrison, Technical Director of the CEO Water Mandate
• Other panelists have been contacted

Interactive dialogue
 After the dialogue, Closing Session
• H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic, President of the General Assembly

World Water Day 2013 - Water Cooperation

In December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. In reflection of this declaration, the 2013 World Water Day, which will take place on 22 March 2013, also will be dedicated to water cooperation. Therefore, UN-Water has called upon UNESCO to lead the 2013 United Nations International Year on Water Cooperation, in particular because of the Organization’s unique multidisciplinary approach which blends the natural and social sciences, education, culture and communication. Given the intrinsic nature of water as a transversal and universal element, the United Nations International Year on Water Cooperation naturally would embrace and touch upon all these aspects.

Visit the Water Cooperation 2013 web site
World Water Day 2012 - Water and Food Security

World Water Day 2013 was coordinated by the The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and attempted to seek out solutions to the increasingly critical issues posed by water and food security. With population increase and economic growth, water demands for cities and for the industry are growing much faster than those of agriculture. In some regions, increasing competition for water is constraining both current availability of water for irrigation and further expansion of the irrigated area. In agriculture alone, staples, livestock, inland fisheries and aquaculture, and non-food crops - including liquid biofuels – already compete for water resources. The steady increase of inland aquaculture also contributes to the competition for water resources. Increased competition for water often translates into loss of access to water for the poor and other vulnerable groups. For millions of smallholder farmers, fishers and herders, water is one of the most important factors of production: without water, they cannot make a living.

Visit the World Water Day 2012 web site

 World Water Day 2011 - Water and Urbanisation

For the first time in human history most of the world's population live in cities: 3.3 billion people ...and the urban landscape continues to grow. 38% of the growth is represented by expanding slums, while the city populations are increasing faster than city infrastructure can adapt.
The objective of World Water Day 2011 was to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems.
Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge, aimed to spotlight and encourage governments, organizations, communities, and individuals to actively engage in addressing the challenges of urban water management.

Visit the World Water Day 2011 web site
Download the Final report: World Water Day 2011
World Water Day 2010 - Water Quality

UN-Water dedicated World Water Day 2010 to the theme of water quality, reflecting its importance alongside quantity of the resource in water management. The World Water Day 2010 campaign is envisaged to raise awareness about sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being through addressing the increasing water quality challenges in water management and to raise the profile of water quality by encouraging governments, organizations, communities, and individuals around the world to actively engage in proactively addressing water quality e.g. in pollution prevention, clean up and restoration.

Visit the World Water Day 2010 web site    

World Water Day 2009 - Transboundary Waters

In 2009, the theme for World Water Day is "Shared Water - Shared Opportunities". Special focus will be placed on transboundary waters. Nurturing the opportunities for cooperation in transboundary water management can help build mutual respect, understanding and trust among countries and promote peace, security and sustainable economic growth. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) leads the activities of the World Water Day 2009 with the support of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Visit the World Water Day 2009 web site

World Water Day 2008 - Sanitation

In 2008, World Water Day coincided with the International Year of Sanitation, and challenged us to spur action on a crisis affecting more th1an one out of three people on the planet. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of the abysmal sanitation conditions endured by some 2.6 billion people globally. That adds up to an unconscionable 1.5 million young lives cut short by a cause we know well how to prevent. Ceremonies for the day took place at Geneva, Switzerland. Speakers included Royal Highness Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange and Director-General of WHO Dr Margaret Chan.

Visit the World Water Day 2008 web site

World Water Day 2007 - Coping with Water Scarcity

The growing problem of Water Scarcity was the topic for World Water Day 2007. The theme highlighted the increasing significance of water scarcity worldwide and the need for increased integration and cooperation to ensure sustainable, efficient and equitable management of scarce water resources, both at international and local levels. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) hosted ceremonies for the daywhich included and opening address from FAO Secretary-General Jaques Diouf, and video addresses from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Green Cross International President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Visit the World Water Day 2007 web site
World Water Day 2006 - Water & Culture

The Theme of World Water Day 2006 was Water and Culture under the leadership of UNESCO.

The theme 'Water and Culture' of 2006 drew the attention to the fact that there are as many ways of viewing, using, and celebrating water as there are cultural traditions across the world. Sacred, water is at the heart of many religions and is used in different rites and ceremonies. Fascinating and ephemeral, water has been represented in art for centuries - in music, painting, writing, cinema - and it is an essential factor in many scientific endeavours as well.

World Water Day 2005 - Water for Life 2005-2015

The Theme of World Water Day 2005 was: Water for Life 2005 - 2015.

The United Nations 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", and beginning with World Water Day, March 22, 2005. The Water for Life decade set the world’s goals on “a greater focus on water-related issues, while striving to ensure the participation of women in water-related development efforts, and further cooperation at all levels to achieve water-related goals of the Millennium Declaration, Johannesburg Plan of Implementation of the World Summit for Sustainable Development and Agenda 21.”

World Water Day 2004 - Water & Disasters

The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the World Meteorological Organization were charged with co-ordinating events for World Water Day 2004.

The message of the Day was: Weather, climate and water resources can have a devastating impact on socio-economic development and on the well-being of humankind. According to the World Meteorological Organization weather and climate-related extreme events, such as tornadoes, thunderstorms, storms, cyclones, floods and drought, account for nearly 75 per cent of all disasters. They lead to an enormous toll of human suffering, loss of life and economic damage. Monitoring these events, predicting their movements and issuing timely warnings are essential to mitigate the disastrous impact of such events on population and economy.

World Water Day 2003 - Water for the Future

Water for the Future was the theme for World Water Day 2003. It called on each one of us to maintain and improve the quality and quantity of fresh water available to future generations. This is essential if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goal to halve, by 2015, the number of people living without safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was the the lead UN agency for World Water Day 2003. The goal was to inspire political and community action and encourage greater global understanding of the need for more responsible water use and conservation.
World Water Day 2002 - Water for Development

Water for Development was the theme for 2002. The Internation Atomic Energy Agency was the coordinating UN agency. The currectly poor and deteriorating state of water resources in many parts of the world demand integrated water resources planning and management.

Visit the World Water Day 2002 web site

World Water Day 2001 - Water & Health

Water for Health - Taking Charge was the theme for 2001. The WHO was the coordinating UN agency.

The message for the day was: "Concrete efforts are necessary to provide clean drinking water and improve health as well as to increase awareness world-wide of the problems and of the solutions. 22 March is a unique occasion to remind everybody that solutions are possible. Use the resources on this site to help turn words into political commitment and action.”

World Water Day 2000 - Water for the 21st Century

"The availability and quality of water is increasingly under strain. Even if conditions were to remain constant for the foreseeable future, much of the world would find itself in a state of water-related crisis. To make matters worse, populations are growing most rapidly in those areas where water is already in scarce supply”.

This is how Wim Kok, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, starts his welcome words in the second announcement for the Second World Water Forum and Ministerial Conference that began in the Netherlands in the week prior to 22 March 2000.

From 17–22 March 2000, hundreds of water specialists, politicians, leading experts and top officials from all across the globe convened in The Hague. The event marked the conclusion to a long series of sessions during which thousands of concerned citizens addressed the water crisis that threatens us all.

World Water Day 1999 - Everyone Lives Downstream

Excessive flooding of major rivers in the world in 1998 have resulted in thousands of deaths and caused enormous damage in China, Bangladesh, and India, where nearly half of the world population lives. They were not only the result of excessive rains, but also of interference by mankind in the river basins. These tragedies make us realize that virtually everybody in this world lives downstream. UNEP was the coordinating UN agency.


World Water Day 1998 - Groundwater - The Invisible Resource

The sixth annual World Water Day (WWD) was celebrated on 22 March 1998. As per the recommendations of the 17th meeting of the ACC Sub-Committee on Water Resources, UNICEF and the United Nations Division of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), took the lead in organizing the observance of World Water Day in 1998.

World Water Day 1997 - The World's Water, Is There Enough?

The message of the day was: Water is a basic requirement for all life, yet water resources are facing more and more demands from, and competition among, users.

World Water Day 1996 - Water for Thirsty Cities

The 3rd annual World Water Day was celebrated on March 22, 1996, with the theme, Water for Thirsty Cities. It emphasized the growing water crisis faced by cities across the world which threatens the sustainability of their social and economic development.

World Water Day 1995 - Women & Water

For the first time Lesotho celebrated the "World Day for Water", on March 22, 1995. The international theme for the day was 'Women and Water'. The Department of Water Affairs organized two main activities for the celebration of the Day: on water pollution and on environmental degradation.

World Water Day 1994 - Caring for Our Water Resources is Everyone's Business

The Theme of World Water Day 1994 was 'Caring for Our Water Resources is Everyone's Business'

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