World Water Day 2024: Water for Peace

World Water Day 2024, Water for peace

Photo: UN Water


March 21, 2024



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March 21, 2024



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Access to drinking water is a fundamental human need, while access to clean drinking water is a basic human right. However, as drinking water becomes scarcer due to climate change and pollution, coupled with a growing population, it is increasingly a limited resource. Consequently, it can turn into a catalyst for conflict, but also for peace – if there is cooperation. That is why the theme of this year’s World Water Day is Water for Peace.

World Water Day has been observed every March 22 since 1993. The United Nations aims to remind people of the significance of water and its protection, as well as the lack of drinking water in many parts of the world.

The slogan of this year’s Water Day is Water for Peace. When there is not enough water or when it is contaminated, when people do not have equal access or any access at all, tensions can rise, the UN warns.

More than 2.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water

“Action for water is an action for peace. And today it is needed more than ever,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said.

Today, more than 2.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, while safe sanitation services are out of reach for 3.6 billion and 2.3 billion aren’t able wash their hands with soap and water at home, according to the World Health Organization.

Freshwater pollution

From large pieces of debris to invisible chemicals, there is a wide range of pollutants ending up in lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater. Water pollution, droughts, inefficient water management, and the ever-increasing global population growth have caused one of the greatest environmental crises we face today – the lack of freshwater.

Water pollution can be caused in multiple ways. Urban sewage and industrial waste are among the most intensive sources. Indirect ones include pollutants entering water supplies from the ground or groundwater systems and from the atmosphere, through rainfall.

Water pollution results in health problems in humans, poisoning of animals, and long-term damage to ecosystems.

Climate change is altering hydrological cycles

According to the United Nations, over three billion people worldwide depend on water that crosses national borders. Out of 153 countries sharing rivers, lakes, and other sources of drinking water with their neighbors, only 24 have cooperation agreements.

Water is a primary resource in food production. Public health, energy systems, and economic productivity rely on a well-functioning water cycle.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), approximately half of the world’s population experiences serious water shortages at least once a year.

Half of the world’s population experiences serious water shortages at least once a year

According to the World Bank’s estimates, by 2030, the world will face a gap between projected demand and available water stocks of up to 40%.

Climate change is altering hydrological cycles, making rainfall more unpredictable and increasing the frequency and intensity of floods and droughts. Approximately one billion people living in monsoon basins and 500 million in river deltas are particularly vulnerable.

Droughts, becoming more frequent due to climate change, limit the livelihoods of poor rural inhabitants whose survival depends largely on rainfall.

Changes in water circulation and weather extremes will negatively affect freshwater ecosystems, while direct flood damage will increase as global temperatures rise.

Collaboration in water protection can sustain peace

World Water Day 2024 emphasizes the collective efforts and dedication of all stakeholders, from individuals to the international community, to conserve water, a critical yet limited resource.

“Cooperating to safeguard water can power and sustain peace. Water stewardship can strengthen multilateralism and ties between communities, and build resilience to climate disasters. It can also drive progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals – which are the foundation of peaceful societies – including improving health, reducing poverty and inequality, and boosting food and water security. Let’s commit to work together, to make water a force for cooperation, harmony, and stability, and so help to create a world of peace and prosperity for all”, said Guterres.

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