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World Water Day

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  • Published
    31st Mar, 2020

World Water Day is an international observance day, marked on March 22 every year to celebrate water to raise awareness and inspire people around the world facing water crises and to take actions advocating the sustainable management of freshwater resources.


World Water Day is an international observance day, marked on March 22 every year to celebrate water to raise awareness and inspire people around the world facing water crises and to take actions advocating the sustainable management of freshwater resources.


  • The idea of this international day dates back to 1993 when the United Nations General Assembly designated March 22 as the first World Water Day.
  • UN-Water selects a theme for each year in consultation with UN organisations that share an interest in the core focus of that year.
  • The theme for this year, 2020, is “Water and Climate Change” and explores how the two issues are inextricably linked.
  • Further, with the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Universal Goals in 2015, World Water Day supports the achievement of the SDG 6, which calls for water and sanitation for all by targeting on universal access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene or WASH.
  • One of the key campaign messages for World Water Day 2020 is ‘Water can help fight climate change.
  • There are sustainable, affordable and scalable water and sanitation solutions’ (UN-Water, 2019). The campaign shows how the efficient use of water can help fight various impacts of climate change itself.

Water & the case of India:

  • Water management is an essential component of successful climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, as called for in the Paris Agreement, 2015.
  • Water is a precondition and a pervasive element to life, essential for a sustainable development of the environment.
  • However, with the growing global population, the demand for water is also increasing consequently. This is further depleting natural resources, damaging the environment in many places.
  • The increase in the global Water Footprint is therefore leading to a negative impact on the volume of water sourced from surface or groundwater resources.

With urbanisation, domestic water use is one of the causes that is accelerating the blue water footprint, which may soon result in an acute water scarcity across the city of Guwahati

The Assam example

  • Based on the composite Climate Vulnerability Index values (Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati and Indian Institute of Technology Mandi, 2018), Assam has been ranked highest (0.72) among other states — Mizoram, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, with a common set of indicators.

The role of climate change:

Today, climate is changing at an alarming rate, becoming the biggest emergency facing humanity across the globe.

  • Increase in CO2: The response to it has been poor, with a significant rise of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) by 11% over the past decade.
  • Drastic climate change is attributed to human activities that are altering the composition of the global atmosphere and natural climate variability observed over comparable periods of time.
  • Increase in temperature: According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), there is an average temperature increase by 0.6 degrees Celsius (°C) between 1901-10 and 2009-18 that points to a more alarming picture if climate change continues unhindered in India.
  • Increase in sea level: The most significant change in estimates of sea level rise was in Asia and especially in India, by the next 30 years if carbon emission is not cut down.
  • Increase in extreme weather conditions: In recent years, extreme weather events have become more frequent and intense across the country.
  • Disturbed seasonal cycle: The consistent seasonal cycle and reliability of the annual monsoons has been disturbed in recent years and the steady combination of rains and sun has altered to long periods of inadequate rainfall, followed by intense rain causing droughts and floods.
  • Increase in stress on natural resources: Forests and peatlands considerably provide for carbon sequestration by storing carbon dioxide for a long term. Currently, overuse of groundwater in various pockets of the city has resulted in stressed aquifers. 

Quick facts:

  • Today, 1 in 3 people live without safe drinking water.
  • By 2050, up to 5.7 billion people could be living in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year.
  • Climate-resilient water supply and sanitation could save the lives of more than 360,000 infants every year.
  • If we limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, we could cut climate-induced water stress by up to 50%.
  • Extreme weather has caused more than 90% of major disasters over the last decade.
  • By 2040, global energy demand is projected to increase by over 25% and water demand is expected to increase by more than 50%.

What need to be done?

  • Mitigating climate change: It is high time that we realise the importance of water in significantly adapting and mitigating climate change.
    • There are sustainable, affordable and scalable water and sanitation solutions to mitigate change in climate.
    • Through production of renewable energy and recovery, turbines along the water supply and wastewater systems for hydropower generation, biogas from the wastewater treatment process, climate change can be mitigated to a substantial level.
  • Increasing energy efficiency: At a local level, installing energy efficient pumps can save the energy demand in water supply and wastewater treatment; thus, increasing the energy efficiency.
    • Additionally, reduction of non-revenue water, metering of water consumption, utilisation of regulated treated wastewater for irrigation and also switching to water-saving technologies in agricultural and industrial sectors can contribute to a great extent in energy efficiency.
  • Climate-smart conservation agriculture: Practicing climate-smart conservation agriculture through to improve soil organic matter and transforming waste into a source of nutrients or biofuels / biogas can address both, food security and climate change.
  • Rainwater harvesting: Reliable, clean water resources help in absorbing and adapting to changes brought due to climate emergency. Rainwater harvesting is useful in regions with uneven rainfall distribution as a sustainable alternative source for clean water and helps implementing adaptation measures to reduce flooding
  • Conserving the wetlands: There is an urgent need to conserve the wetlands in the city by including them into development plans and projects.


Water is an enabling as well as a limiting factor in humanity’s ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change. There is a need of sensitising local communities and creating awareness at various urban local bodies about the fundamental concepts, likely impacts, possible mitigation and adaptation alternatives, and global experiences on climate change. Conserving, maintaining or rehabilitating coastal mangroves and wetland ecosystems is another way of reducing climate change vulnerability through capturing and storing carbon to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases and providing resilience to hazards such as flooding, storm surge and coastal inundation.


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