Pena: World Water Day 2021

THIS March 22, 2021, World Water Day (WWD) will be celebrated online for the first time. The WWD celebrates water and raises awareness of the global water crisis, and a core focus of the observance is to support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6, that is to have water and sanitation for all by 2030.

The idea for this international day goes back to 1992, the year in which the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro took place. That same year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 22 March of each year as World Day for Water, to be observed starting in 1993.

The theme of World Water Day for this year is "valuing water." The value of water is not just about how much it cost money-wise, water has enormous and complex value for our households, food, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment.

Our body contains 70 percent water. Other than being a basic need of our body for survival, water also means different things to different people. To the ordinary folks, it is crucial for health and hygiene. For bathing, washing and toilet needs. The modern man cannot live without a reliable supply of running water. The importance of water has been more highlighted in this pandemic where frequent hand washing is one of the health protocols for preventing the spread of the virus.

To farmers, water is everything. Irrigation is life. Agriculture accounts for roughly 70 percent of global water use. Without water, there is no harvest and there is no food on our table. Here in the Philippines, rice farmers who only rely on rain for irrigation can only plant once, while those connected to an irrigation system can plant all year round.

To the manufacturing and power industry, water is an important raw material and a resource for washing and cooling. Some of the water intensive industries include brewery and carbonated beverage, dairy, sugar mills and refineries, textile manufacturing, pulp and paper mills, oil and gas. Power plants, especially nuclear, use a lot of water for cooling. Hydroelectric plants of course, use water directly to produce electricity.

But water is a dwindling resource. According to Unesco, water scarcity and water quality degradation present major challenges in securing enough water of good quality to meet our needs. The widespread water quality degradation across the world is the most serious water problem, threatening human health and ecosystems' integrity, but also representing a major concern for the water resources sustainability. However, the planet's freshwater resources, if managed sustainably and effectively, can meet water demands of the world's growing population with good quality water.

All of us have a role in ensuring there is enough clean water for future generations. Don't pollute and don't waste water.

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