Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Celebrating World Water Day

Today, March 22, 2011, is World Water Day (WWD), a day designated to celebrate a resource that everyone needs to survive. Recommended at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 and put into action the following year, World Water Day works to highlight an aspect of fresh water that is particularly important. This year, the theme is Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge.

World Water Day is holding conferences in Cape Town, South Africa, to address the issues of clean water in cities, and to discuss how changes in water recycling, city planning and water conservation can help guarantee clean water for everyone.

Every month, the urban population grows by 5 million residents, mostly in developing nations. The growth in urban areas has far outpaced the growth in the water supply system, and right now over 25% of people in cities don’t have water piped into their homes. This problem is only expected to get worse in the coming years.

Young people around the world are working diligently to help solve water issues. For example, the International Youth Water Movement is working to create new business models that allow for sustainable water use and increased water access. They are doing this by creating “Centers for Youth Enterprise Development”, which would allow young entrepreneurs to advance new ideas and form new networks. Through this movement, young people have reached agreements with local governments to guarantee sanitation and water access in 100,000 homes, influenced water access legislation in Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Nicaragua, and completed a number of other goals.

They can’t do it alone. In the spirit of World Water Day, here are some things you can do to help save and protect the world’s supply of freshwater.

Take part in a World Water Day event! Though WWD is in March, events occur throughout the year. From irrigation testing in India to an event promoting tap water in New York, find an event that appeals to you here.

At home, little changes can add up. Turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth can save up to 8 gallons of water per day, and each minute you shave off your shower can save 2.5 gallons of water. Installing newer, more efficient appliances, such as shower heads, toilets and faucets, can drastically reduce the amount of water used every day.

Locally, you can lobby your city manager or sanitation leader for better water practices. The WWD Advocacy Guide and Action Handbook has great ideas about how to organize a campaign for cleaner water in your community.

Globally, donate to one of many organizations that work to provide people throughout the world with access to clean, safe water.

Clean water is a global issue that everyone needs to consider. What are you doing to celebrate World Water Day? Let us know in the comments.

(Image Courtesy of World Water Day 2011)

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