World Water Day (WWD) is held annually on 22 March as a means of focussing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year’s theme for WWD on Saturday is “water and energy”, to collectively bring attention to the water-energy relationship, highlighting the 768 million people that currently lack access to water and the 1.3 billion without access to electricity.  According to the UN, in order to meet the demands of a growing population, 40% more water and 50% more energy will be needed by 2030. WWD 2014 aims to facilitate the development of policies that link the public and private sector in order to move towards future energy security and sustainable water use.

The main objectives for this year’s WWD include:

-  Raising awareness of the inter-linkages between water and energy

-  Contribute to a policy dialogue that focuses on the broad range of issues related to the connections between water and energy.

-  Demonstrate, through case studies, to decision makers in the energy sector and the water domain that integrated approaches and solutions to water-energy issues can achieve greater economic and social impacts

-  Identify policy formation and capacity development issues in which the UN system, in particular UN-Water and UN-Energy, can offer significant contributions

-  Identify key stakeholders in the water-energy nexus and actively engaging them in further developing the water-energy linkages

-  Contribute as relevant to the post-2015 discussions in relation to the water-energy nexus.

In preparation for World Water Day, earlier this year, 9 UN agencies and programmes, industry experts as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations attended the Annual Water Conference in Spain to discuss issues and solutions that arise in ensuring access, efficiency and sustainability of water and energy provision.   The delegates concluded that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and recognised the importance of local knowledge and partnerships.

Coinciding with WWD, the World Water Assessment Programme will launch its flagship World Water Development Report at the main WWD celebrations taking place at the United Nations University headquarters in Tokyo, starting today.  In light of the post-2015 Sustainable Development goals, which will most likely include improved access to water and energy services, the report aims to inform stakeholders and policy makers as well as highlight the need to develop an appropriate response that considers priorities for energy and water.  Starting from this year, it has been agreed that each annual report will be harmonized with the theme of WWD.

Each year UN-Water promotes its “Water for Life” Best Practice Award to highlight efforts that help achieve long term sustainable management of water resources and contribute to internationally agreed targets contained in the Millennium Development Goals, Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.  The award is open to projects/programmes that achieve effective results in water management or in raising awareness in water issues. The prize is awarded in two categories, “best water management practices” and “best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practices”.  The winners of the 2013 Awards can be found here.  This year’s winners will be announced on the 21st March.

More information on WWD events taking place worldwide can be found here.

Useful links

UN World Water Day

UN Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development

UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication

World Water Development Report – Archive

Water and Energy Security – Integrated Water Resources Management Toolbox

World Economic Forum: Water Security: The Water-Food-Energy-Climate Nexus

World Bank: Thirsty Energy: Will Water Constrain Our Energy Future?

World Resources Institute: Water Risks on the Rise for Three Global Energy Production Hot Spots

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