World Water Day

World Water Day

Water is one of the most valuable resources that we often take for granted. Many battles already exist surrounding the right to clean water, and scientists keep making dire predictions as to when the world may run out of water. While the latter fact may be debatable for the near future, the fact is that millions of people do not have regular access to clean drinking water worldwide. This has subsequently led to the spread of waterborne illnesses, malnutrition and even death. To recognize such issues, the United Nations established World Water Day in 1993 on March 22nd.


In June 1992, the United Nations held a conference in Rio de Janeiro to discuss environmental concerns in relation to human activities. Formally referred to as the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, the organization adopted a plan called Agenda 21 to deal with related environmental issues. A part of Agenda 21 was the formation of World Water Day. This holiday was established in 1993 as a way to increase awareness of water’s important role in health and daily living, as well as its effects on human rights.

Annual Themes

Every year, the United Nations has a different theme for World Water Day. To commemorate its 20th celebration, 2013’s theme is designated as the “International Year of Water Cooperation.”

Since 2003, UN-Water has been responsible for coming up with annual themes for World Water Day. The first theme was in 1994, entitled: Caring for Water Resources is Everybody’s Business.” Other past themes include: “The World’s Water: Is There Enough?” (1997), “Water for Health” (2001), “Water and Disasters” (2004), “Coping with Water Scarcity” (2007), and “Water and Food Security” (2012).

The purpose of these annual themes is to focus on an important aspect of water in communities worldwide to increase awareness. For example, increasing education about the health impacts of unclean water may promote action among societies so people can find ways to obtain better water. While such issues are important year-round, the United Nations hopes to reach as many people as possible during each World Water Day and to equip individuals with knowledge that can last a lifetime.

Water for Life Decade

On March 22, 2005, the United Nations launched the Water for Life Decade. This initiative focuses on the roles women have in terms of clean water for their communities. The program is especially important in nations where women do not often have a say in community and government affairs; in this essence, the U.N. has provided opportunities for women to grow and enrich their lives, as well as the lives of others. The decade-long celebration will run through 2015.


While World Water Day is not considered a public holiday, it is widely celebrated in numerous ways. Under the direction of the United Nations, many organizations seek to increase the awareness of local issues related to the year’s theme. Since water issues often differ by region, it is important that these entities play a role in interpreting the annual theme as seen fit.

Much of the celebrations conducted for World Water Day encourage the public to see available water resources. Whether this is a boat ride or a swim, many people hold events at rivers and lakes, as well as the seaside. Other regions hold more serious events that involve protests against poor drinking water conditions.