women extract water from a well
Caption: Women draw water from a well in Nepal.

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.

Groundwater, making the invisible visible

This 2022, the focus is groundwater, an invisible resource with an impact visible everywhere.

Groundwater is water found underground in aquifers, which are geological formations of rocks, sands and gravels that hold substantial quantities of water. Groundwater feeds springs, rivers, lakes and wetlands, and seeps into oceans. Groundwater is recharged mainly from rain and snowfall infiltrating the ground. Groundwater can be extracted to the surface by pumps and wells.

Life would not be possible without groundwater. Most arid areas of the world depend entirely on groundwater. Groundwater supplies a large proportion of the water we use for drinking, sanitation, food production and industrial processes.

It is also critically important to the healthy functioning of ecosystems, such as wetlands and rivers.

We must protect them from overexploitation – abstracting more water than is recharged by rain and snow - and the pollution that currently haunts them, since it can lead to the depletion of this resource, extra-costs of processing it, and sometimes even preventing its use.

Exploring, protecting and sustainably using groundwater will be central to surviving and adapting to climate change and meeting the needs of a growing population.

Would you help us?

UN Water, the leading agency for the International Day, provides information in multiples languages so that all the world could understand perfectly the relationship of groundwater with our survival. The agency eases as well cool assets to help us create a greater impact. Would you help us?

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?

  • Almost all of the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater.
  • About 40 per cent of all the water used for irrigation comes from aquifers.
  • Asia and the Pacific region has the lowest per capita water availability in the world, with groundwater use in the region predicted to increase 30 per cent by 2050.
  • In North America and Europe, nitrates and pesticides represent a big threat to groundwater quality: 20 per cent of European Union (EU) groundwater bodies exceeds EU standards on good water quality due to agricultural pollution.


UN Water and UNESCO launched this year's UN World Water Development Report. This flagship report, focused on groundwater in this edition, gives insight on main trends concerning the state, use and management of freshwater and sanitation.


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.


Hand holding a cellphone that displays a video

Shoot a 60 second video and tell us… How does groundwater affect your life? Is there enough? Is it safe? What needs to be done to protect groundwater? Share your groundwater story! Make your one-minute film and don’t forget to include the hashtags #MyGroundwaterStory & #WorldWaterDay, upload to YouTube or Vimeo, and send the link at mygroundwaterstory@un-igrac.org. Deadline: 20 November 2022. 


illustration of people with clock, calendar, to-do list and decorations

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.