"Valuing Water"

World Water Day on 22 March 2021

World Water Day

Since the United Nations first held World Water Day in 1993, the 22 of March raises awareness every year of our most vital resource for all life and its special characteristics. The theme of the 2021 World Water Day is “Valuing Water”. With this annual theme, the UN wants to motivate people to reflect on the value of water and the essential role it plays in our lives. Its worth extends far beyond financial value, encompassing environmental, social and cultural dimensions.

Water is the basis of all life and an indispensable resource. Against the backdrop of challenges such as climate change, changes in our consumption patterns and population growth, the aim is to raise awareness about the role of water and the services provided by it in all areas of human life and for biodiversity. Water is a limited resource whose value we first need to recognise in order to be able to cherish and protect it.

The UN Water Action Decade and the International Dialogue on Water

The UN Water Action Decade was proclaimed at the 66th United Nations General Assembly in December 2016 for the period from 22 March 2018 to March 2028. The UN Water Action Decade pursues two main goals:

  • improving the dissemination of knowledge on the topic of water and water pollution control, including information on the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
  • improving communication to achieve water-related goals.

The German government is also doing its part to support this initiative. Not only has it launched a national dialogue on water held over a two-year period, it also takes part in an international water dialogue on the sustainable management of water resources and water bodies. On behalf of the German government, the BMU launched the international Water Dialogues for Results, which will be held from February to July 2021 with UN member states from the global North and South and international Major Groups. The Water Dialogues for Results will be concluded with a high-level ministerial meeting on 1 July 2021. The momentum generated by the UN Water Action Decade will thus be made use of to trigger change in the way water is perceived globally.

Logo of the Water Action Decade in Germany

Why do we need World Water Day?

World Water Day and the UN Water Action Decade should be regarded in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its water-related goals, adopted by the UN member states in 2015, particularly SDG 6 “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.

World Water Day is aimed at raising widespread public awareness of these global goals, their local impacts and the challenges related to their implementation. The goal is to motivate people to support implementing action. All countries are invited to use World Water Day to implement the UN recommendation and carry out appropriate initiatives at national level. Further information on World Water Day is available on the UN website.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 "Clean Water and Sanitation. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all."

Past themes of World Water Day

Each year, the United Nations selects a different theme for World Water Day.

Year Theme
2021"Valuing Water"
2020"Water and Climate Change"
2019"Leaving no one behind – water and sanitation for all"
2018Nature for Water
2017Waste Water
2016Water and Jobs
2015Water and Sustainable Development
2014Water and Energy
2013Water Cooperation
2012Water and Food Security
2011Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge
2010Clean Water for a Healthy World
2009Shared Water – Shared Opportunities
2008Sanitation
2007Coping with Water Scarcity
2006Water and Culture
2005Water for Life 2005 – 2015
2004Water and Disasters
2003Water for the Future
2002Water for Development
2001Water and Health
2000Water for the 21st Century
1999Everyone Lives Downstream
1998Groundwater: the Invisible Resource
1997The World’s Water: Is There Enough?
1996Water for Thirsty Cities
1995Women and Water
1994Caring for Our Water Resources is Everyone’s Business

Water body type of the year 2021

Every year on World Water Day on 22 March, the Federal Environment Agency selects a water body type of the year. The water body of the year 2021 is the "geschichtete Alpensee" (stratified Alpine lake). This is a lake type found in the Alps and Alpine forelands in Germany.