World Water Day | A Day to Celebrate, Change, Prepare

Every year, World Water Day is held on March 22nd to celebrate, none other than the amazing gift of WATER. This special day was created in 1993 by the General Assembly of the United Nations with the goal of making a difference for those that suffer from water-related issues and considers the best ways to manage water in the future. Every year a different theme is chosen that focuses on a specific issue, but with the overarching goal of inspiring action for cleaner water, sanitation and hygiene facilities for those without access to such amenities.

Water Related Facts

  • 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services.
  • An estimated 1.8 billion people use an unimproved source of drinking water with no protection against contamination from human feces.
  • Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the environment without being treated or reused.
  • The number of people at risk from floods is projected to rise from 1.2 billion today to around 1.6 billion in 2050 – nearly 20% of the world’s population.
  • An estimated 64-71% of natural wetlands have been lost since 1900 as a result of human activity.


The theme for this year’s World Water Day is “Nature for Water” and focuses on exploring nature-based solutions (NBS) to help solve the water challenges we face in the 21st century. NBS includes using the natural landscape and hydrology to reduce floods, droughts and water pollution. Some of the NBS methods include things such as planting trees, improving floodplains, restoring wetlands, with the goal of finding “sustainable and cost-effective solutions to help rebalance the water cycle, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve human health and livelihoods.”


As the climate changes, we are seeing more frequent and intense storms that produce heavy rainfall, often leading to flooding. By using NPS we can help mitigate some of the implications of these intense storms.

One cool example of this is “Sponge Cities” where the Chinese government has launched an initiative to improve water availability in urban areas. The goal is to reduce urban flooding, improve ecosystems and retain urban runoff for future reuse by using a combination of NBS and grey infrastructure.

As part of this initiative, 16 pilot cities will be installing a range of NBSs such as green roofs, pervious pavement, bioswales/rain gardens to capture water and allow for natural infiltration of water into the ground. This will provide a natural means of water storage during periods of drought. The goal is to have 70% of rain water absorbed and reused through improved water permeation. They expect to have 20% of urban areas reach this goal by 2020 and 80% by 2030.

What Can Be Done?

Since World Water Day encourages us to take action, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Support organizations that protect wetlands
  2. Support organizations that are actively working to restore floodplains
  3. Plant trees
  4. Install a rain barrel
  5. Build a rain garden to capture the water coming off your roof
  6. Encourage and support sustainable development within your local community

What local organizations or communities can do:

  1. Reconnect rivers to floodplains
  2. Restore wetlands to rebalance the water cycle
  3. Plant forests
  4. Create buffers of vegetation along waterways
  5. Encourage conservation agriculture (i.e., no-till, installing buffers)
  6. Update codes and ordinances to allow for sustainable development

We’d love to see what you are doing to celebrate World Water Day. Please share your story and photos with us on YSI’s twitter account: @ysiinc. Let’s Solve Water!

For in-depth detail on nature-based solutions for water, please see the World Water Development Report 2018 that is released on 22 March 2018.


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