Eco Comment – World Water Day 2024 – Water for Peace

22 March 2024

We’ve all got used to these ‘days’ for specific things, ranging from National Trivia Day in January to International Day of Neutrality in December. Some appear more important than others. I suppose it all depends on our perspective and place in the world order. Some might make us laugh as they appear to be so inconsequential, but others certainly give us food for thought. Today is one such. Serendipity struck again as when I was preparing to write this Eco Comment I saw an article in the Guardian entitled ‘Tap water is boring, so they invent new products’: how did humble H20 become such big business? (Richard Godwin 9.3.24) A very concerning article, especially in the light of today’s focus. Well worth a read if only to gasp in almost disbelief.

World Water Day has been held on the 22nd March every year since 1993. It is an annual United Nations Observance focusing on the importance of fresh water. World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. It is taking action to tackle the global water crisis and a core focus is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030. Each year has a theme or focus. The theme this year is ‘Leveraging Water for Peace’. The website explains: “Water can be a tool for peace when communities and countries cooperate over this precious shared resource. But water can also spark and intensify conflict when access is denied and usage unfairly shared. World Water Day 2024 is about working together to balance everyone’s needs, with a dedication to ensure no one is left behind, to make water a catalyst for a more peaceful world … As climate change impacts increase, there is an urgent need, within and between countries, to unite around protecting and conserving our most precious resource.”

One of the first facts we learn in science at school is that most living things need air, water, light, temperatures within certain limits and food to live. We see and read about the results in the media when some or all of these things are withdrawn whether by natural or human interventions. The Guardian article is just one demonstration of how absurd the commercialism of an innate need has influenced the thinking of a sector of our society. Sadly there have been so many stories in recent years of how areas of land throughout the world and the people who live and work on that land have been affected when their water rights have been removed. It is a rare thing for us in the UK and Europe to be affected by lack of water. Some of you might remember times when we had to fill containers from standpipes in the road. We might notice or be told how low the reservoirs are when there’s been a dry summer or not as much rain as expected in the winter. Our whole culture is based on the weather as it’s an invariable opening to any conversation. For so many of us it’s a given. We turn on the tap and clean water comes out. We might have become more careful as to how much we use in the light of water metering and probably teach our children not to keep the tap running when they clean their teeth but generally we are so fortunate. Clean water and subsequent sanitation is inevitably there for us.

In our own small way we might well have paid our £60 and twinned our tap or toilet through Tearfund’s You might even have noticed that the cathedral has recently twinned one of our loos with a latrine in Uganda, the certificate is in the Treacy Hall corridor. A small gesture, but as ever if everyone did the same we’d be well on the way to rectifying the differences in water and sanitation throughout the world.

World Water Day Factsheet

  • More than 3 million people worldwide depend on water that crosses national borders. Yet, out of 153 countries that share rivers, lakes and aquifers with their neighbours, only 24 countries report having cooperation agreements for all their shared water.
  • As climate change impacts increase, there is an urgent need, within and between countries, to unite around protecting and conserving our most precious resource.
  • As populations grow, water will become increasingly important in the fight against poverty and the deterioration of the environment.
  • Cooperation on water can build vital resilience to extreme weather events and help populations to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate.
  • Public health and prosperity, food and energy systems, economic productivity and environmental integrity all rely on a well-functioning and equitably managed water cycle.
  • Peaceful cooperation around water can flow into peaceful cooperation in all sectors.
  • By working together to balance everyone’s human rights and needs, water can be a stabilising force and a catalyst for sustainable development. (World Water Day factsheet)

Pray for the success of this special day.

For more information and to explore the connection between water and peace, read inspirational stories from around the world:

Susan Morgan
Eco Group

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