World Water Day 2021 – three decades of focus on the value of water
On World Water Day we celebrate the value of water

World Water Day 2021 – three decades of focus on the value of water

The idea of World Water Day was introduced as a concept in 1992 by the United Nations. Here is a timeline of the main events surrounding this event over the past 30 years:

1993: The first recorded celebration of World Water Day

2005 – 2015: The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed this period as the “ International Decade for Action- Water for Life”

2020: the theme for World Water Day focused on the interdependence of water and climate change

2021: World Water Day 2021 explores the value of water

World Water Day takes place annually on the 22nd of March and it explores the importance of water and all the problems regarding water use. On this day, the United Nations launches one of the most well-known reports regarding water development, with a focus on water and sanitation. The report puts in perspective the importance and use of freshwater and sanitation, based on research made by UN-Water members and partners. This report launches at the same time as World Water Day and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater.


The current state of freshwater resources focuses on the necessity of improving water management. In order to achieve sustainable and equitable water resources, it is fundamental to recognise, measure, express the value of water and incorporate it into decision making, as stated by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The 2030 Agenda contains the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, known also as the Global Goals. Current procedures and approaches to water evaluation in interrelated perspectives are discussed in the United Nations World Water Development Report 2021 (UN WWDR 2021) called “ Valuing Water”.

The 5 perspectives are:

1. Valuing water sources, in ecosystems and in situ water resources;

2. Valuing water infrastructure for water storage, use, reuse, or supply argumentation;

3. Valuing water services, mainly drinking water, sanitation, and related human health aspects;

4. Valuing water as an input to production and socio-economic activity, such as food and agriculture, energy and industry, business and employment;

5. Other socio-cultural values of water, including recreational, cultural, and spiritual attributes.

Determining the “real” value of water has been proven difficult, especially in comparison to the value of other natural resources. In many parts of the world, financial investment and political attention have not reflected appropriately the importance of this vital resource, which affects the fulfillment of almost all the SDGs, as well as basic human rights.

Agenda 2021


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