UN Water: World Water Day 2013
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 2013, in reflection of the International Year of Water Cooperation, World Water Day is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation around water and is coordinated by UNESCO in collaboration with UNECE and UNDESA on behalf of UN-Water.
The International Year and the World Water Day 2013 aim to encourage and nurture water cooperation to:
- Raise awareness on the importance, benefits and challenges of water cooperation;
- Enhance knowledge and develop capacity for water cooperation;
- Spark concrete and innovative action towards water cooperation;
- Foster partnerships, dialogue and cooperation around water as a top priority, during and beyond 2013;
- Strengthen international cooperation among institutions, users, social and economic sectors and others in order to reach a consensus on Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2015 era which will effectively address our future water needs.
What is Water Cooperation?
Every action involving water management requires effective cooperation between multiple actors whether at the local or international scale. Building a village water pump in sub-Saharan Africa requires local actors to cooperate. Bringing water from a river to irrigate farmland requires regional cooperation.
Rivers cross political boundaries and international cooperation is necessary to share the water resources of a transboundary river basin between upstream and downstream users with different and sometimes conflicting needs, claims and cultures. Countries also need to cooperate on the sharing of transboundary groundwater, an important and increasing source of freshwater. In all, there are 276 international basins. These cover around 45% of the Earth’s land surface, host about 40% of the world’s population in 148 nations and account for approximately 60% of global river flow.
If any of the people involved in water management do not cooperate, the ‘cooperation chain’ is broken and water resources will not be managed in the most effective way, with adverse effects on human lives and the economy. When water resources are cooperatively shared and managed, peace, prosperity and sustainable development are more likely to be achieved.
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