‘Water for Life’ UN-Water Best Practices Award



The purpose of the Award is to promote efforts to fulfill international commitments made on water and water-related issues by 2015 through recognition of outstanding best practices that can ensure the long-term sustainable management of water resources and contribute to the achievement of internationally agreed goals and targets as contained in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Agenda 21 an the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.


Best practices shall be aligned with the Water for Life Decade's objectives. Best practices can focus on a variety of subjects such as Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), adaptation to climate change in the water sector, improvements in water quality, promotion of water efficiency, improvements in water governance, establishment and management of protected areas, and creation of public awareness.

Every year, special emphasis is being put on the theme selected for the next World Water Day. The 2014 edition's focus is on Water and Energy.

Periodicity and categories

The prize is awarded yearly in two categories, one in best water management practices and another one in best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practices.


The award consists of:

  1. An invitation to participate in the UN event celebrated on the occasion of World Water Day, including travel and accommodation for one representative for each of the above mentioned categories representing the winning practice;
  2. Production of a video on each of the winning best practice categories. These videos will be included in a UN database of good practices;
  3. A certificate especially designed for the award.

The prize is awarded at a special ceremony on World Water Day, 22 March.


The Award is open to projects, programmes or initiatives achieving particularly effective results in the field of water management or in raising awareness in water issues.

Submission of candidatures

The candidatures must be submitted through an independent nominating organisation in a letter of well reasoned justification, signed and dated by the presenter and accompanied by an application form duly filled. The letter should indicate the reasons why the candidature should be selected, describe background that corresponds to the objectives and criteria of the Award, and provide an assessment of the results achieved. Letters may be submitted in any of the official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish). Please note that self-nominations and direct approaches to members of the Selection Committee will disqualify any nominee from further consideration.

The nominating organisation can be any organisation with sufficient knowledge of the candidate. You need to state your professional and/or business connection in relation to the best practice to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

Submitters are encouraged to include the following supporting materials:

  • Documents and publications;
  • Digital standard format videos less than 10 minutes in length;
  • Photographs and/or other graphic material; and
  • Brochures or other promotional material.

The application period for the 2014 edition of the Award is now closed.

All submissions received will be acknowledged and assigned a catalogue number by UNW-DPAC for documentation purposes and for eventual inclusion in the Best Practices Database. UNW-DPAC shall inform all submitters the status of their submission.

Selection process

UNW-DPAC may contact the submitters who shall provide effective assistance by reviewing the documents submitted with the objective of ensuring their compliance with the criteria as well as the rules and regulations of the award and advise them of any further actions required.

All submissions complying with the reporting format shall be forwarded to an independent international Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for review. This advisory committee will evaluate the submitted best practices based on a set of selection criteria.

The TAC shall review all submissions and prepare a comprehensive report including a description of the selection process. This evaluation report will be forwarded to an international Jury for their assessment and final selection of the Award recipients.

The Best Practices Jury shall review evaluation by the TAC to select those initiatives deserving of the “Water for Life” Best Practices Award.

The decisions of the Jury should normally be taken unanimously; if the Jury does not reach unanimity in favour of any of the candidatures submitted, it should take its decision by a simple majority of the members present. In the event of a tie, the President's vote will decide.

Selection criteria

The TAC will first apply the following general criteria in reviewing applications:

  • The best practice responds to one or more of the following requirements:
    • Respect for social and cultural diversity;
    • Transferability, adaptability and ability to be up-scaled;
    • Appropriateness to local conditions and levels of development.
  • The best practice contributes to, but is not limited to:
    • The promotion of social equality and equity;
    • The eradication of poverty;
    • The preservation of traditional knowledge.
  • Clarity: The clarity with which the best practice is presented and the approach described.

A set of specific selection criteria will then be applied for evaluating candidatures in each Category. For a detailed description of criteria applied for each category, please visit the Categories section of this website.