World Water Day 2013 complements the International Year of Water Cooperation, by focusing on the theme of cooperation around water
World Water Day is held annually on 22 March to draw attention to the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. In 2013, in reflection of the International Year of Water Cooperation, World Water Day is also dedicated to water cooperation and is coordinated by UNESCO in collaboration with UNECE and UNDESA on behalf of UN-Water.
In a statement on behalf of the EU, on the occasion of World Water Day, HR/VP Catherine Ashton outlined that the EU's substantial assistance to third countries to improve access to clean water and sanitation is a clear contribution to these efforts. The EU has spent more than €2.2 billion on water and sanitation programmes between 2007-2012.
The European Union underlines that safe drinking water and sanitation are crucial for a healthy and dignified life. Yet millions of people worldwide still lack access to clean drinking water and are therefore deprived of a basic human right. Over 780 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and over 4,000 children under five die every day from diseases associated to the lack of access to clean drinking water. This is not only a tragedy, it is simply unacceptable. Catherine Ashton stated that the EU affirms that the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is derived from the right to an adequate standard of living and inextricably related to the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as well as the right to life and human dignity. EU Commissioner for Environment Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs and EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier, explained that this is why the EU provides almost EUR 400 million per year to help 60 countries build infrastructure for drinking and waste water systems and provide basic sanitation and hygiene worldwide. EU aid has already helped to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. It has allowed more than 32 million people to gain access to improved water supply and 9 million to sanitation facilities.
Ashton pointed out that water security is also a strategic issue of growing concern. Increasing water shortages, poor water quality, droughts or floods accentuated by climate change, and the resulting economic and demographic changes can have a negative effect on peace and stability.
Providing access to water and sanitation is essential in our fight to reduce poverty, because water is not only vital for drinking and hygiene purposes, it is also key to agriculture. Worldwide, 70% of water is used as irrigation water to grow food, for example, and in some developing countries, this figure increases to over 85%. Since demand on the world's water resources will be even higher in the future, we need to do all we can to preserve our precious water supplies before it's too late.
Ashton concluded by stressing that the EU strongly encourages sustainable and collaborative transboundary approaches to water management across the world to promote economic and social development, political stability and peace and security.
How is World Water Day 2013 being recognized around the world?
Efforts around the world at local, national and international levels will help to raise awareness on the potential and challenges for water cooperation, facilitate dialogue among actors, and promote innovative solutions for nurturing water cooperation.
A high point of the Campaign will be the official World Water Day celebrations hosted by the Government of The Netherlands on 22 March 2013 in The Hague, an opportunity for the exchange of good examples of water cooperation from a global perspective. Discussions will highlight best practices of water cooperation from various perspectives and viewpoints.
Many other events will take place around the world to celebrate World Water Day. Find out more here
And how can YOU be involved?
Un Water emphasizes that the success of the International Year of Water Cooperation and the World Water Day depends on the involvement of everyone. They encourage YOU to:
UN Water also invites YOU to send your success stories, pictures, artwork, videos and other creations, to be shared with the world and to contribute to the formulation of Sustainable Development Goals where water is properly addressed. Read more about it here and have your voice heard!