Water, by its simplest definition, is life. Every living thing on Earth requires water to survive. Water means different things to different people. The conversation on World Water Day centers on solving the global water and sanitation crisis, which will require everyone to do their part. To help with this discussion we are sharing information about World Water Day, sustaining water, the water cycle, why water is so essential for human life and more!

Learn About World Water Day

World Water Day

Water means different things to different people. In households, schools and workplaces, water can mean health, hygiene, dignity and productivity. In cultural, religious and spiritual places, water can mean a connection with creation, community and oneself. In natural spaces, water can mean peace, harmony and preservation. Today, water is under extreme threat from a growing population, increasing demands of agriculture and industry, and the worsening impacts of climate change. UN World Water Day welcomes everyone to tell their stories, thoughts and feelings about water. Visit the World Water Day website for tools to help you learn share and act to protect and preserve water. 

World Water Day - Be The Change You Want to See in the World

The UN World Water Day 2023 global theme is "Accelerating Change." The star of this animated film for World Water Day 2023 is the hummingbird (video created by UN-Water). In the ancient tale, the hummingbird is faced with a great fire and, rather than stand and stare, decides to act - trying to put the fire out one drop at a time. The other animals laugh, but she replies, “I’m doing what I can.” The short film tells the story of the global water and sanitation crisis as if the world were a community of just 100 people.

In that scenario, 25 people would have to collect unsafe water from a stream or pond, often far away, or queue for hours and pay a high price to a vendor. 22 people would either have no choice but to go to the toilet in the streets, bushes or fields, or to use unhygienic and dysfunctional latrines. Half the local wetlands would have disappeared in recent decades and nearby agriculture and industry would use up 80 per cent of all the available water.

In the face of this global water and sanitation crisis, the hummingbird’s message is to do something, however small. And when more and more of us are like the hummingbird, our individual actions amount to something much bigger, helping to accelerate change. Learn more.

UN 2023 Water Conference

In 1977, world leaders, water experts and policymakers from around the world gathered in Mar del Plata, Argentina, for the UN Water Conference. Almost 50 years later, the global community will come together from March 22 to 24 in New York for the second ever UN 2023 Water Conference.

By nature, water connects different environments, peoples and sectors. But growing demands for water, coupled with poor water management, have increased water stress around the world. Meanwhile, the effects of worsening climate change are often felt through water, in the form of floods or droughts. Something has to change. Halfway into the Water Action Decade, our progress on water-related goals and targets remains alarmingly off-track, jeopardizing the entire sustainable development agenda.

The UN 2023 Water Conference will put water into the spotlight and onto global agendas. It seeks to mobilize States, the UN system and stakeholders alike to share and exchange knowledge, challenges and best practices, and forge new partnerships across sectors. Governance, innovation, data and financing all have a role to play in accelerating water action. Learn more.

Water For Health: Access to Wash, Including the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

Water For Health

Ahead of the UN 2023 Water Conference, and in the spirit of its inclusivity an artist was commissioned to portray the key themes of the Conference in a visually engaging format. Each of these five cartoons represents one of the themes of the Conference’s Interactive Dialogues and its building blocks which aim to galvanize water action. See more (scroll down).

The History of World Water Day

Two men carrying a pail of water

World Water Day focuses on the importance of freshwater. World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. The idea for this international day goes back to 1992, the year in which the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro took place. That same year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution by which March 22 of each year was declared World Day for Water, to be observed starting in 1993. Later on, other celebrations and events were added. For instance, the International Year of Cooperation in the Water Sphere 2013, and the current International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028. These observances serve to reaffirm that water and sanitation measures are key to poverty reduction, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. Photo by UN Photo.

UNESCO World Water Development Report

UN World Water Development Report

The United Nations World Water Development Report (UN WWDR) is an annual and thematic report that focuses on different strategic water issues each year and aims to provide decision-makers with the tools to implement sustainable use of our water resources. It also includes regional aspects, hotspots, examples and stories, making the report relevant to a broad range of readers, at different levels and in different geographical areas. The 2023 report, Partnerships and Cooperation for Water, will be launched on March 22 at the United Nations 2023 Water Conference in New York. View a preview of the report below. The 2022 report theme was, “Groundwater – Making the Invisible Visible;" the 2021 report highlighted "Valuing Water," 2020's theme was "Water and Climate Change," 2019 focused on "Leaving No One Behind," and 2018 placed a spotlight on "Nature-Based Solitions for Water."

The 2023 UN World Water Development Report

At current rates, progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal for water and sanitation (SDG 6) is off-track.

The United Nations World Water Development Report 2023 on “Partnerships and cooperation for water” describes how building partnerships and enhancing cooperation across all dimensions of sustainable development are essential to accelerating progress towards SDG 6 and realizing the human rights to water and sanitation.

The United Nations World Water Development Report 2023 will be launched at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York, on 22 March 2023. For more information please visit https://en.unesco.org/wwap.

The Earth's Fresh and Salt Water

Did you know only about three percent of the water on Earth is fresh water? That's why we need to take care of it! In this video from FunScienceDemos, Jared shows us how much salt water there is compared to the freshwater we have on our planet. Temple University's College of Science and Technology offers a wonderful series of FunScienceDemos in cooperation with TuTeach. This video is used with permission from the College of Science and TechnologyTuTeach and the incredible FunScienceDemos team.

Moving Water Shapes the Land

Water is an incredibly powerful natural force, so powerful it can shape the land around us. Standing in a running stream, Jared explains that land is shaped by moving water, in this video from FunScienceDemos. This video is used with permission from the College of Science and TechnologyTuTeach and the FunScienceDemos team.

Water for a Sustainable World: A Vision for 2050

This video from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Oranization (UNESCO) presents the vision for 2050 of the world's water future. It is the UN’s flagship report on water and gives an overall picture of the state of the world's freshwater resources, aiming to provide decision-makers with the tools to implement sustainable use of water.

What Would Happen if You Didn't Drink Water?

Water is essentially everywhere in our world, and the average human is composed of between 55 and 60 percent water. So what role does water play in our bodies, and how much do we actually need to drink to stay healthy? Mia Nacamulli details the health benefits of hydration in this video from TedEd

Why is Water Important?

Did you know that humans can only live a few days without water? In this video from Whizbusters, learn why water is the most important factor to human life after air!

Fifteen Benefits of Drinking Water

water being poured from a pitcher into a glass

Around 60 percent of the body is made up of water, and around 71 percent of the planet’s surface is covered by water. Perhaps it is the ubiquitous nature of water that means drinking enough each day is not at the top of many people’s lists of priorities, but it should be according to Medical News Today.

How Much Water is There on Earth?

a chart showing how much fresh water is available on earth when compared to a globe.

The Earth is a watery place. But just how much water exists on, in, and above our planet? About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth's water. Water also exists in the air as water vapor, in rivers and lakes, in icecaps and glaciers, in the ground as soil moisture and in aquifers, and even in you and your dog. The globe illustration  created by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows blue spheres representing relative amounts of Earth's water in comparison to the size of the Earth. Are you surprised that these water spheres look so small? Discover more!

Where is Earth's Water? 

Earth's water Bar chart out of all the water 2.5% is fresh water, and only 1.2% of that is surface freshwater

Earth's water is (almost) everywhere: above the Earth in the air and clouds, on the surface of the Earth in riversoceansiceplants, in living organisms, and inside the Earth in the top few miles of the ground. For an estimated explanation of where Earth's water exists, look at this bar chart shared by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). You may know that the water cycle describes the movement of Earth's water, so realize that the chart and table below represent the presence of Earth's water at a single point in time. If you check back in a million years, no doubt these numbers will be different!

The Water Cycle for Schools

A graph of the water cycle. Water in the clouds falls to the ground as precipitation which travels in lakes and streams to the ocean where it evaporates back into the atmophere

Earth's water is always in movement, and the natural water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle, describes the continuous movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the Earth. Water is always changing states between liquid, vapor, and ice, with these processes happening in the blink of an eye and over millions of years. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have teamed up to create a water-cycle diagram for schools and kids. It is available in over 30 languages and also in an interactive version made for online viewing and investigating.

More About The Water Cycle

Water is almost constantly changing, but like almost everything it does follow a pattern. From evaporation to condensation to precipitation, learn more about the water cycle in this video from Happy Learning

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