The world has changed greatly since the first World Water Day was celebrated on March 22nd, 1993. It grew out of a budding realization about how indiscriminate development had damaged our resources, and the need for proactive steps to remedy the situation. From those early days, this global event has morphed into a holistic view of the effects of human activity on the environment, and especially on water. These evolving efforts have encompassed climate change mitigation, sanitation progress and equitable distribution of resources. And it’s little wonder that proper management of water resources is key to achieving each of those aims.
In 2021, the theme of World Water Day is ‘Valuing Water’. It’s a timely reminder of the importance of water, at the start of a decade which will define the success of our sustainable development goals, slated to be completed by 2030. The lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic have especially reinforced the shared responsibilities and risks involved, and how lack of access to water can breed lack of hygiene and damage the long-term prospects of a country as a whole. The urgency to sanitize our hands and our surroundings also engendered a new appreciation for mindful water use, and how unequal access risks our collective well-being.
The new normal therefore calls for new hygiene and health protocols that tie-in with sustainable water goals. The aim is not just to disseminate proper health and hygiene practices, but also to facilitate them through proper management of clean water. And this grassroots change is being brought about by a collection of localized efforts, that showcase the ingenuity present even in the most backward parts of the world. The combination of the pandemic and a long-term vision is affecting a shift in mindset as well, helping vast sections of those denied access to clean water and hygiene, to demand and fight for these rights.
Just like in the previous years, this year’s World Water Day will also mark an important point of inflection in our struggle for clean water, and highlight once again its intrinsic importance to the health of a community. For thought leaders and changemakers, it will be a useful platform to showcase their commitment to change and to invite more participants to this movement for a healthy and water-secure world.
World Water Day on March 22nd will also mark an important milestone for Mission Paani too, a landmark initiative by Network18 and Harpic India. It’s a chance for every Indian to join the movement for water and hygiene and make a difference. Visit Mission Paani for more.