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World Water Day

World Water Day is an international observance that brings attention to the importance of freshwater and advocates for sustainable management of freshwater resources. It is a day for people to learn more about water issues and to take action to address them.

At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, it was recommended that there should be an international day dedicated to freshwater. On December 22, 1992, the United Nations General Assembly adopted A/RES/47/193, which designated the following March 22 to be the first World Day for Water, a day that would be observed annually. (It is now known as World Water Day.) Countries were invited "to devote the Day, as appropriate in the national context, to concrete activities such as the promotion of public awareness through the production and dissemination of documentaries and the organization of conferences, round tables, seminars and expositions related to the conservation and development of water resources and the implementation of the recommendations of Agenda 21."

UN-Water, the group that coordinates the United Nations' work on sanitation and water, sets a new theme for the day each year. Some themes have been "Leave no one behind," which focused on marginalized groups, and "Nature for Water," which explores how nature can be used to overcome water issues. UN-Water mobilizes organizations for the day on a local and global scale. Each year the UN World Water Development Report is issued on or around the occurrence of the day as well.

Water is one of the world's most essential resources: it is needed for survival, and also is critical for economic, social, and human development. Yet, many issues dealing with scarcity and pollution surround water. Many people deal with health issues related to contaminated water or have to travel long distances for quality water. Over 2 billion people don't have safe water at home, and over 660 million people don't have safe water nearby. Almost two-thirds of the world's population experiences severe water scarcity for at least one month each year. One in four primary schools does not have safe water. That lack of water resources disproportionately affects those who live in rural areas, as well as those who have had to flee their homes because of factors beyond their control.

How to Observe World Water Day

The day can be celebrated by taking part in events in your country or by celebrating on a personal level. Many events that are held around the world are listed on the day's official website. You can add your own event there, too. You could celebrate the day by finding ways to conserve water, or by finding a place to donate to in order to help people get access to clean water. The day's website has some resources to explore, as well as info about this year's theme and stories about world water issues. More could be read about water at the United Nations' website, or you could read a book or watch a documentary that deals with water issues.

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