United Nations World Water Day Is March 22: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

World Water Day 2018 will be celebrated on March 22. This year’s theme, Nature for Water, explores how we can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st Century. Environmental damage, together with climate change, is driving the water-related crises we see around the world. Floods, drought and water pollution are all made worse by degraded vegetation, soil, rivers and lakes.

When we neglect our ecosystems, we make it harder to provide everyone with the water we need to survive and thrive.

World Water Day is coordinated by UN-Water—the United Nation’s inter-agency collaboration mechanism for all freshwater related issues—in collaboration with governments and partners. Here are some critical facts about the world’s water provided by the UN:

  • Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. (Sato et al, 2013)
  • 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with feces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year. (WHO/UNICEF 2014/WHO 2014)
  • The opportunities from exploiting wastewater as a resource are enormous. Safely managed wastewater is an affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials.