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Water is an essential building block of life. It is more than just essential to quench thirst or protect health; water is vital for creating jobs and supporting economic, social, and human development. Today, there are over 663 million people living without an improved drinking water supply close to their homes, spending countless hours on queues or walking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water.

World Water Day is celebrated on the 22nd of March every year, as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year.

The theme for this year is ‘Nature for Water’ which explores how we can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century. Environmental damage, together with climate change, is driving the water-related crises we see around the world. Floods, drought and water pollution are all made worse by degraded vegetation, soil, rivers and lakes. When we neglect our ecosystems, we make it harder to provide everyone with the water we need to survive and thrive.

Nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. We need to do so much more with ‘green’ infrastructure and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure wherever possible. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.

The World Assembly of Youth (WAY), will continue to urge young people and our extensive network of youth councils to support innovative programmes, activities and events within their immediate communities, which help the  conservation of energy and the delivery of safe drinking water wherever it is inadequate. Sustainable Development Goal 6 states that ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030 - includes a target to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase water recycling and safe reuse.

Let us focus our attention on the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.