Two boys struggle to carry a container of water as they walk into the sunset in the desert.
Children carrying a water container in Jowhar, Somalia.
Photo:UN Photo/Tobin Jones

The importance of water

World Water Day, held on 22 March every year since 1993, focuses on the importance of freshwater.

World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. It is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis. A core focus of World Water Day is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Valuing water

World Water Day 2021 poster - What does water mean to you?

Today, water is under extreme threat from a growing population, increasing demands of agriculture and industry, and the worsening impacts of climate change.

As societies balance the demands on water resources, many people’s interests are not being taken into account.

This year´s theme World Water Day is about what water means to people, it's true value and how we can better protect this vital resource. The value of water is about much more than its price – water has enormous and complex value for our households, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment. If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource.

Support catalysing conversations about water, by using these social media assets and engaging in digital discussions through #Water2me and #WorldWaterDay.

Water and Soap Against the Coronavirus

Hand hygiene is essential to containing the spread of COVID-19, as well as other infectious diseases. If you have access to soap and water, follow the steps and join the #SafeHands campaign. For your community and for you.

On this World Water Day, and any other day, remember to wash your hands regularly with water and soap or with an alcohol-based hand gel. See UNICEF's guidelines on handwashing and UN Water's fast facts on handwashing/ handhygiene.

This #WorldWaterDay, let’s show our best hand hygiene moments to fight #COVID19.

#SafeHands on #WorldWaterDay

children consult a globe

How is the water in your country?

Discover the percentage of drinking water, water quality, population with access to sanitation services, or the proportion of wastewater that is treated safely.

History of the Day

The idea for this international day goes back to 1992, the year in which the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro took place. That same year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution by which 22 March of each year was declared World Day for Water, to be observed starting in 1993.

Later on, other celebrations and events were added. For instance, the International Year of Cooperation in the Water Sphere 2013, and the current International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028. These observances serve to reaffirm that water and sanitation measures are key to poverty reduction, economic growth, and environmental sustainability.

Did you know?

  • Today, 1 in 3 people live without safe drinking water.
  • By 2050, up to 5.7 billion people could be living in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year.
  • Climate-resilient water supply and sanitation could save the lives of more than 360,000 infants every year.
  • If we limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, we could cut climate-induced water stress by up to 50%.
  • Extreme weather has caused more than 90% of major disasters over the last decade.
  • By 2040, global energy demand is projected to increase by over 25% and water demand is expected to increase by more than 50%.

Links

Related Observances

Virtual Event

On 22 March, World Water Day will be celebrated in an online event from 13:00 to 14:30 (CET). The United Nations World Water Development Report will also be launched, including policy direction recommendations to decision-makers.

Simultaneous interpretation will be available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

World Water Day 2021 logo

Visit the official UN Water website to learn more about the goals we aim to fulfill in accordance with the 2030 Agenda. Your role is very important! We encourage you to spread the message with our promotional materials available in several languages and compatible with several platforms for your events, websites, social networks and merchandising needs.

 

Marakera, an Ethiopian 5-year-old boy, drinks clean piped water. Photo UNICEF Ethiopia/Ayene.

In order to accelerate initiatives aimed at addressing the challenges related to water resources, the General Assembly proclaimed the 2018-2028 as the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”. Discover the objectives of the Decade, including those set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

A crowd of women sitting and laughing

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources 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. We also mark other UN observances.