World Water Day was held on 22 March, with organisations, communities and individuals all over the world celebrating all things water.
This year, the day coincided with the World Water Forum (Brasilia, 18-23 March) which brought some of the world’s most established water experts together.
The theme of ‘Nature for Water’ highlighted nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.
This year’s campaign, titled ‘The answer is in nature’, conveyed the message that activities such as tree-planting, wetland restoration and reconnecting rivers are effective and sustainable solutions to help reduce water pollution, nurture ecosystems and communities, and reduce the impacts and severity of floods and drought.
To mark the occasion, the Australian Water Partnership (AWP) with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) supported a Global Citizen event for the Australian premiere screening of ‘Louder Together’ at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. The documentary follows the 2016 Global Citizen Festivals in New York and India and highlights the work being done to alleviate extreme poverty.
In the lead-up to these festivals, announcements from global leaders supported campaigns to promote gender equality, education, and sanitation. The themes of access to water and adequate sanitation featured strongly in the documentary, and 170 special guests attended the exclusive event which included Nick Schofield (AWP), Kaye Schofield AO (AWP), Rachel Jolly (DFAT) and Michael Wilson (DFAT).
Mr Wilson, Acting First Assistant Secretary Development Policy Division, spoke about Australia’s own efforts to alleviate poverty and achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 through its participation on the High Level Panel on Water, including progress towards gender equality through a new Water for Women Fund:
“It’s a pleasure to be part of this event. For the last two years, the Prime Minister has been part of a global leadership panel on water. Convened by the United Nations Secretary General and World Bank President, the High Level Panel on Water provided political leadership to a pressing and perplexing issue – how the world can better manage freshwater.
The numbers are stark. Today, 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 4.5 billion people lack safely managed hygiene services. On top of this, 1.9 billion people live in water scarce areas. By 2050, this could increase to 3 billion people.
Through the Panel, Australia shared its experience and expertise by leading the Panel’s work on water data, water use efficiency and innovation. We also highlighted the disproportionate impact women and girls face when water, sanitation and hygiene facilities are lacking. Australia is hoping to ease some of that burden through our new $110 million Water for Women Fund.
One of the Panel’s main findings is that the need for global action to secure our water resources is urgent and that this can’t be managed alone by governments, it needs full participation from researchers, civil society, the private sector – and new young voices with drive and fresh approaches to old problems. That’s why it’s a pleasure to be here today at this Global Citizen event that brings together such a diverse audience concerned about global challenges.”
A digital campaign was launched calling on citizens worldwide to take the #ValueWater pledge which is asking world leaders to take action and priortise investment for accessing clean water and basic sanitation. You can make a pledge through the Global Citizen page.
AWP also invited all Partners to utilise social media to share how they value water around this year’s theme. Many partners contributed by tagging AWP and using the hashtags #WorldWaterDay2018 #iValueWater #EveryDrop and #SDG6. A collection of these posts can be viewed on the AWP’s World Water Day event page.
Also on the 22nd March, the UN General Assembly launched a ten-year Action Plan on water for sustainable development. The Action Plan has three objectives: transforming the current silo-based approach to water supply, sanitation, water management and DRR into an integrated one; aligning existing water and sanitation programmes and projects with the 2030 Agenda; and generating the political will for strengthened cooperation and partnerships. Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan and Initiator of the Decade for Action, presented the report titled, ‘Making Every Drop Count: An agenda on Water Action’ on behalf of the members of the High-Level Panel on Water (HLPW).