Theme and stories

World Water Day 2019: Leaving no one behind

This year’s theme for World Water Day, ‘Leaving no one behind’, adapts the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030. By definition, this means leaving no one behind.

But today, billions of people are still living without safe water – their households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories struggling to survive and thrive.

Marginalized groups – women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, disabled people and many others – are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the safe water they need.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, water is your human right.

Together with access to sanitation, safe water underpins public health and is therefore critical to sustainable development and a stable and prosperous world.

We cannot move forward as a global society while so many people are living without safe water.

This World Water Day, 22nd March, is about tackling the water crisis and addressing the reasons why so many people are being left behind.

Sustainable Development Goal 6

  • 6.1: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
  • 6.2: By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
  • 6.3: By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
  • 6.4: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
  • 6.5: By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
  • 6.6: By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
  • 6.A: By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
  • 6.B: Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.

Syrian refugees are building an irrigation channel

As part of an ILO project in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, Syrian refugees – women and men – and host communities work alongside each other building an 25 kilometer long irrigation channel. 
Browse our collection of stories about those being left behind without safe water and what is being done to reach them.

Human rights youth challenge on water & sanitation

Join the human rights youth challenge on water & sanitation. Show your knowledge, understanding and passion about the human rights to water and sanitation by creating an original content about the human rights to water and sanitation and upload it to a social media network.

The Drought Initiative

Drought and water scarcity – interconnected phenomena that often aggravate each other’s effects – can trigger major setbacks for the most disadvantaged populations: from famine to migration and displacement.

A day without migrants

Throughout human history, migration has been a courageous expression of the individual’s will to overcome adversity and to live a better life.

Left with a stark choice: adapt to a changing climate or leave

In the Dry Corridor, a region that spans the length of Central America, from southern Mexico all the way down to Panama, corn means life to the farmers. But as the other staple in this region, it depends heavily on rain, and in the past few years it just hasn’t rained enough.

Measuring inequality – beyond taps and toilets

he Stockholm Environment Institute are currently pilot-testing a new tool, the WASH Insecurity Scale. Improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services is often seen in terms of households getting access to a tap or toilet. But inequality in who benefits from WASH can vary from household to household and even between individuals in the same household.

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