Past World Water Days
World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.
Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. In 2014, World Water Day is on "Water and Energy". A brief overview of the different themes that have been the focus of World Water Day celebrations is available below.
2013 Water Cooperation
In December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. In reflection of this declaration, the 2013 World Water Day, which will take place on 22 March 2013, also will be dedicated to water cooperation. Therefore, UN-Water has called upon UNESCO to lead the 2013 United Nations International Year on Water Cooperation, in particular because of the Organization’s unique multidisciplinary approach which blends the natural and social sciences, education, culture and communication. Given the intrinsic nature of water as a transversal and universal element, the United Nations International Year on Water Cooperation naturally would embrace and touch upon all these aspects.
Visit the Water Cooperation 2013 web site >>
2012 Water and Food Security
International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. Coming soon in this section of the website, we will present a brief overview of the different themes that have been the focus of World Water Day celebrations.
2011 Water for Cities
The objective of World Water Day 2011 was to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems.
The theme, Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge, aimed to spotlight and encourage governments, organizations, communities, and individuals to actively engage in addressing the challenges of urban water management.
The offical website attracted a new high of over half a million visits in the month of March, and saw over 800 events added to the 'Worldwide Events' map. The offical logo was also produced in over 40 languages.
2010 Water Quality
UN-Water dedicated World Water Day 2010 to the theme of water quality, reflecting its importance alongside quantity of the resource in water management.
The World Water Day 2010 campaign was envisaged to raise awareness about sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being through addressing the increasing water quality challenges in water management and to raise the profile of water quality by encouraging governments, organizations, communities, and individuals around the world to actively engage in proactively addressing water quality e.g. in pollution prevention, clean up and restoration.
2009 Transboundary Waters
In 2009, the theme for World Water Day was "Shared Water - Shared Opportunities". Special focus was placed on transboundary waters. Nurturing the opportunities for cooperation in transboundary water management can help build mutual respect, understanding and trust among countries and promote peace, security and sustainable economic growth. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) lead the activities of the day with the support of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
2008 International Year of Sanitation
In 2008, World Water Day coincided with the International Year of Sanitation, and challenged us to spur action on a crisis affecting more than one out of three people on the planet.
Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of the abysmal sanitation conditions endured by some 2.6 billion people globally. That adds up to an unconscionable 1.5 million young lives cut short by a cause we know well how to prevent. Ceremonies for the day took place at Geneva, Switzerland. Speakers included Royal Highness Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange and Director-General of WHO Dr Margaret Chan.
2007 Water Scarcity
The growing problem of Water Scarcity was the topic for World Water Day 2007. The theme highlighted the increasing significance of water scarcity worldwide and the need for increased integration and cooperation to ensure sustainable, efficient and equitable management of scarce water resources, both at international and local levels. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) hosted ceremonies for the daywhich included and opening address from FAO Secretary-General Jaques Diouf, and video addresses from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Green Cross International President Michail Gorbachëv.
2006 Water and Culture
The Theme of World Water Day 2006 was Water and Culture under the leadership of UNESCO. The theme 'Water and Culture' of 2006 drew the attention to the fact that there are as many ways of viewing, using, and celebrating water as there are cultural traditions across the world. Sacred, water is at the heart of many religions and is used in different rites and ceremonies. Fascinating and ephemeral, water has been represented in art for centuries - in music, painting, writing, cinema - and it is an essential factor in many scientific endeavours as well.
2005 Water for Life 2005-2015
The Theme of World Water Day 2005 was: Water for Life 2005 - 2015. The United Nations General Assembly at its 58th session in December 2003 agreed to proclaim the years 2005 to 2015 as the International Decade for Action, "Water for Life", and beginning with World Water Day, March 22, 2005. The Water for Life decade set the world's goals on "a greater focus on water-related issues, while striving to ensure the participation of women in water-related development efforts, and further cooperation at all levels to achieve water-related goals of the Millennium Declaration, Johannesburg Plan of Implementation of the World Summit for Sustainable Development and Agenda 21."
2004 Water and Disaster
The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the World Meteorological Organization were charged with co-ordinating events for World Water Day 2004. The message of the Day was: Weather, climate and water resources can have a devastating impact on socio-economic development and on the well-being of humankind. According to the World Meteorological Organization weather and climate-related extreme events, such as tornadoes, thunderstorms, storms, cyclones, floods and drought, account for nearly 75 per cent of all disasters. They lead to an enormous toll of human suffering, loss of life and economic damage. Monitoring these events, predicting their movements and issuing timely warnings are essential to mitigate the disastrous impact of such events on population and economy.
2003 Water for the Future
Water for the Future was the theme for World Water Day 2003. It called on each one of us to maintain and improve the quality and quantity of fresh water available to future generations. This is essential if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goal to halve, by 2015, the number of people living without safe drinking water and basic sanitation. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was the the lead UN agency for World Water Day 2003. The goal was to inspire political and community action and encourage greater global understanding of the need for more responsible water use and conservation.
2002 Water for Development
Water for Development was the theme for 2002. The Internation Atomic Energy Agency was the coordinating UN agency. The currectly poor and deteriorating state of water resources in many parts of the world demand integrated water resources planning and management.
2001 Water for Health - Taking Charge
Water for Health - Taking Charge was the theme for 2001. The WHO was the coordinating UN agency.The message for the day was: "Concrete efforts are necessary to provide clean drinking water and improve health as well as to increase awareness world-wide of the problems and of the solutions. 22 March is a unique occasion to remind everybody that solutions are possible. Use the resources on this site to help turn words into political commitment and action."
2000 Water for the 21st Century
"The availability and quality of water is increasingly under strain. Even if conditions were to remain constant for the foreseeable future, much of the world would find itself in a state of water-related crisis. To make matters worse, populations are growing most rapidly in those areas where water is already in scarce supply".
This is how Wim Kok, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, starts his welcome words in the second announcement for the Second World Water Forum and Ministerial Conference that began in the Netherlands in the week prior to 22 March 2000. From 17–22 March 2000, hundreds of water specialists, politicians, leading experts and top officials from all across the globe convened in The Hague. The event marked the conclusion to a long series of sessions during which thousands of concerned citizens addressed the water crisis that threatens us all.
1999 Everyone lives Downstream
Excessive flooding of major rivers in the world in 1998 have resulted in thousands of deaths and caused enormous damage in China, Bangladesh, and India, where nearly half of the world population lives. They were not only the result of excessive rains, but also of interference by mankind in the river basins. These tragedies make us realize that virtually everybody in this world lives downstream. UNEP was the coordinating UN agency.
1998 Groundwater - The Invisible Resource
The sixth annual World Water Day (WWD) was celebrated on 22 March 1998. As per the recommendations of the 17th meeting of the ACC Sub-Committee on Water Resources, UNICEF and the United Nations Division of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), took the lead in organizing the observance of World Water Day in 1998.
1997 The World's Water - Is There Enough?
The message of the day was: Water is a basic requirement for all life, yet water resources are facing more and more demands from, and competition among, users.
1996 Water for Thirsty Cities
The 3rd annual World Water Day was celebrated on March 22, 1996, with the theme, Water for Thirsty Cities. It emphasized the growing water crisis faced by cities across the world which threatens the sustainability of their social and economic development.
1995 Women and Water
For the first time Lesotho celebrated the "World Day for Water", on March 22, 1995. The international theme for the day was 'Women and Water'. The Department of Water Affairs organized two main activities for the celebration of the Day: on water pollution and on environmental degradation.
1994 Caring for Our Water Resources is Everyone's Business
The Theme of World Water Day 1994 was 'Caring for Our Water Resources is Everyone's Business'.