World Water Day

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International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March to focus global attention on the importance of freshwater and to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. [1] The annual campaign is an opportunity for educators, activists, and community leaders to emphasize the need for clean water, and often focuses on the linkages between water access and global poverty. World Water Day organizers also work to raise the profile of water quality at the international and domestic political levels so that water quality considerations are made alongside those of water quantity.

Many global corporations, such as Starbucks and Coca-Cola, have "sponsored" World Water Day in low-impact attempts to greenwash their image.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which coordinates World Water Day 2010 on behalf of UN-Water, has selected the theme "Communicating Water Quality Challenges and Opportunities" for the 2010 campaign.

Organizers and Sponsors

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) coordinates the organization of the World Water Day 2010 campaign on behalf of UN-Water and in collaboration with FAO, UNDP, UNECE, UNICEF, UNESCO, UN-Habitat, WHO, and the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication as well as with "partner organizations." [2]

World Water Day is also "supported" by organizations such as Coca-Cola and Starbucks.

Starbucks actually owns and manages the website [], which many may mistake for the official UN-Water website. [3] The site purports to be copyrighted by Ethos Water, the Starbucks-owned bottled water brand. Many have criticized the brand, arguing that the bottle's label misleads consumers into thinking that Ethos is primarily a charitable organization, when it is actually a for-profit Starbucks brand and the vast majority of the sale price (over 94%) does not support clean-water projects [4] Starbucks' World Water website suggests a similarly deceptive effort.

UPDATE: As of March 14, 2010, routes viewers to, where the Starbucks connection is not apparent. A cached version of the original page's privacy agreement can still be viewed here.

Coca-Cola has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to sponsor World Water Day, a move which many consider greenwashing. Last year, in a March 22 editorial published in The Independent newspaper, President of Coca-Cola Great Britain Sanjay Guha defended the genuineness of his corporation's sponsorship. [5]


Groups around the world are organizing events around World Water Day. A list of some of these events can be found here.

The World's Longest Toilet Queue is a worldwide mass mobilization effort to set a Guinness World Record and demand action from global leaders convening at the April 22 High-Level Meeting on Sanitation and Water in Washington DC. More information can be found on the World Toilet Queue website.

The Organization Global Fast has launched an initiative called Offset The Water Crisis to raise money and awareness about the world's clean drinking water crisis. Global Fast is calling for World Water Day (March 22) to be a National Day of Sacrifice where students and community activists will sacrifice a meal, movie, or something else, and donate the money saved! For more information, visit the Give H20 website.

History and Importance

The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.[6]

UN-Secretary General Ban-Ki moon emphasizes the importance of World Water Day 2010: "Water is the source of life and the link that binds all living beings on this planet. It is connected directly to all our United Nations goals: improved maternal and child health and life expectancy; women’s empowerment; food security; sustainable development; and climate change adaptation and mitigation. . .Our indispensable water resources have proven themselves to be greatly resilient, but they are increasingly vulnerable and threatened. . . Clean water has become scarce and will become even scarcer with the onset of climate change. And the poor continue to suffer first and most from pollution, water shortages and the lack of adequate sanitation. . . More people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war."[7]


  1. "about" page, Official World Water Day website
  2. homepage, Official World Water Day website
  3. Terms and Conditions page from World Water (Starbucks-owned)
  4. Starbucks Ethos Water Controversy, Search.Com Reference, accessed February 2010
  5. Why Coca-Cola’s commitment to water sustainability is the ‘real thing’, March 22, 2009 The Independent Newspaper, accessed February 2010
  6. World Water Day website
  7. UN-Secretary General World Water Day message, United Nations website, accessed March 2010

External Links

Official UN-Water World Water Day website

Events listed on World Water Day website

Campaign Materials from World Water Day website

Give H20 website

World Toilet Queue website