World Water Day is an annual event celebrated on 22 March. The day focuses attention on the importance of universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in developing countries. The day also focuses on advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
World Water Day is supported by stakeholders across the globe. Many organizations promote clean water for people and sustainable aquatic habitats. Events such as theatrical and musical celebrations, educational events, and campaigns to raise money for access to clean and affordable water are held worldwide on or close to 22 March.
UN-Water selects a theme for each year. Previous themes included: ‘Why waste water?’ (a play on words with ‘Why wastewater?’) in 2017, ‘Water and Jobs’ in 2016, and ‘Water and Sustainable Development’ in 2015.
The first International World Water Day, designated by the United Nations, was commemorated in 1993
World Water Day is an international observance day. It is meant to inspire people around the world to learn more about water-related issues, tell others about these issues and take action to make a difference, particularly in developing countries.
One of these issues is the global water crisis. The global water crisis includes challenges such as water scarcity, water pollution, inadequate water supply and the lack of sanitation for billions of people in developing countries. The day brings to light the inequality of access to WASH services and the need to assure the human right to water and sanitation.
UN-Water coordinates plans and programmes for the day in consultation with UN member organisations who share interest in that year’s theme. For example, in 2016 when the theme was “Water and Jobs,” UN-Water collaborated with the International Labour Organization.
Organizations active in the WASH sector, including non-governmental organizations such as UNICEF and WaterAid, use the day to raise public awareness, inspire action and get media attention for water issues. Activities have included the production and dissemination of publications or films, and the organization of round tables, seminars, expositions and other events.
End Water Poverty, a global civil society coalition with 250 partner organizations worldwide, coordinates a calendar of global events to commemorate World Water Day, on the 22nd and during the whole of March.
Each year on World Water Day, the UN World Water Development Report (WWDR), also relating to the chosen annual theme, is released.
World Water Day has seen an increase in the quantity and quality of education initiatives within schools and universities, to raise awareness of the importance of conserving and managing water resources.  For example Michigan State University held a contest for “best World Water Day poster” in 2017. Primary school children in the Phillipines participated in a “My School Toilet” contest in 2010.
In addition to school-based educational events, a variety of public events, such as seminars, rallies and parades aim to bring people together for World Water Day. This might include educational displays on water-saving devices such as greywater reuse systems or dry toilets, as well as information about the lack of access to drinking water and water for agriculture in developing countries.