World Water Day 2023: Accelerating change to secure progress on water and sanitation

In 2015, the world committed to Sustainable Development Goal 6 – the promise that everyone would have safely managed water and sanitation by 2030. This year’s World Water Day acts as a reminder for everyone to take action to secure progress on water and sanitation. This year’s theme of Accelerating Change emphasises the need to speed up efforts towards achieving sustainable water management practices. 

Water is a vital resource for life on earth, and its importance cannot be overemphasised. However, despite its critical role in sustaining life, access to safe and clean water remains a significant challenge for many communities worldwide with 1 in 4 people – 2.2 billion people without access to safely managed drinking water, while 4.2 billion go without safe sanitation services and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities. Rapid urbanisation, climate change, and unsustainable water management practices have all contributed to the global water and sanitation crisis. 

To accelerate change and secure progress on water and sanitation, governments, organisations, and individuals must work together to promote sustainable water management practices. This includes investing in infrastructure and technologies that improve access to clean water, reducing water waste and pollution, and promoting water conservation and efficiency. To achieve this, the needs of women and girls, of the vulnerable, marginalised and rural communities must be taken into account in order to deliver access to clean water and safe sanitation. This can be addressed through innovative solutions such as community-led water projects and investment in sustainable water technologies. 

Another critical area that requires attention is the need to reduce water waste and pollution. Agriculture, industry, and households are major contributors to water pollution and waste. Efforts to reduce waste and pollution can be achieved through better water management practices, including wastewater treatment, sustainable agricultural practices, and the use of water-efficient technologies. 

Climate change is also a significant challenge that affects water resources. Extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and hurricanes have become more frequent and intense, resulting in water scarcity and reduced water quality. To accelerate change and address the impacts of climate change, governments and organisations must invest in climate-resilient water infrastructure and promote the use of renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Here’s how we can act and make a difference individually: 

  1. Reduce water usage: You can reduce water consumption by taking shorter showers, fixing leaks, and using drought-resistant plants in your garden. 
  2. Support water-saving initiatives: You can support water-saving initiatives in your community by volunteering, donating, or advocating for change. 
  3. Educate others: Spread awareness about the importance of water and the water crisis by educating your family, friends, and community about the issue. 
  4. Make sustainable choices: Make sustainable choices in your daily life by choosing products and services that have been produced with minimal water usage. 
  5. Advocate for change: Advocate for change at the local, national, and international level by supporting policies and initiatives that promote sustainable water management practices.

By taking these simple steps, you can play your part in accelerating change and secure progress on water and sanitation But water and sanitation are complex sectors and thus also require good governance and cooperation. Here’s how governments can act and make a difference:  

  1. Allocate adequate funding 
  2. Involve and engage the public  in the planning, implementation, and management of water services 
  3. Develop innovative policies and governance mechanisms based on climate resilient and inclusive WASH services 
  4. Engage, support and incentivise private sector operators and other stakeholders to take bold and sustainable water action. 

IWA Resources

In addition to these steps, we urge water professionals, institutions, policymakers and wider stakeholders to consult our resources to secure a water wise future. The International Water Association actively promotes a comprehensive and integrated approach to managing water – one that envisages resilient and Water-Wise Cities. We invite you to learn more about our initiatives, particularly the IWA Principles for Water-Wise Cities, the Climate Smart Utilities initiative, and our Inclusive Urban Sanitation initiative – all providing practical inspiring case studies and high-impact stories on urban water and sanitation, and sustainable water management from all over the world. 

World Water Day 2023 and the UN Water Conference  

This World Water Day, IWA will co-host and participate in a wide range of events during the UN Water Conference in New York on 22-24 March 2023.  >> Here you can find the list of activities and events where the International Water Association will participate while at the UN Water Conference in New York on 22-24 March. We look forward to seeing you at one of our events! Together, we can accelerate change to secure progress on water and sanitation. 

Florence Laker, Patrick Ronoh, Suresh Kumar Rohilla

IWA Inclusive Sanitation Team
Patrick is passionate about improving peoples’ lives and protecting the environment through research and implementation of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) projects in developing countries. Read more. Suresh has over 25 years experience gained... Read full biography