World Water Day is an annual event held on 22 March by the United Nations and is used to raise awareness and accelerate action on access to clean water for everyone. At the same time, the UN releases its annual World Water Development Report, this year at the UN 2023 Water Conference.

Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash

The UN World Water Development report is published by the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) The report noted that two billion people do not have safe drinking water and 3.6 billion lack access to safely managed sanitation.

The report also said that the global urban population facing water scarcity is due to double between 2016 and 2050, hitting 2.4 billion people in the middle of the century.

IEMA’s membership of more than 20,000 individual members and over 300 corporate partners includes many professionals working to address the issue of access to clean water, which is the sixth Sustainable Development Goal.

A spokesperson for drinks company Diageo, an IEMA corporate member, said: “At Diageo, we take a holistic view on water, from our communities, to our operations and our farmers. It’s also our most important ingredient.

“We’re investing in water to empower women as women are disproportionately impacted when they don’t have water close to home. They miss out on education, earning money and their independence, whilst putting their personal safety at risk from walking dangerous paths alone, collecting from unsafe water deposits, and can sustain lifelong injuries from carrying full containers. By investing in women, we can promote gender equality and build resilience to climate change.

“By working together with CARE International, we’re creating a sustainable WASH model that can be replicated in other regions, providing lasting benefits to communities around the world, while promoting gender equality to ensure equal opportunities for all in the future. And WaterAid are providing us with the expertise on the most impactful locations for our WASH projects, and providing invaluable knowledge and support on water.

“We aim to improve our water use efficiency by 30% globally, and by 40% in water stressed areas; by 2026, replenish more water than we will use for production in our sites that are subject to water stress.”

Other IEMA corporate partners took to Twitter to share the work they are doing to improve access to clean, safe water.

Nestlé UK and Ireland, said: “Nestlé Waters are proud to partner with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Wild Trout Trust and Chatsworth Estate to launch a project to restore the natural habitat of the River Ecclesbourne and support the return of Atlantic salmon.”

Engineering giant Jacobs, an IEMA corporate partner, said: “Mark World Water Day with us and a new episode of our podcast on all things flood risk, data science & climate response.”

French multinational Schneider Electric, said: “On this World Water Day we urge everyone to accelerate the change. See how Veolia Water protects the environment and reduces energy use with an advanced wastewater treatment control system based on EcoStruxure.”

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said: “There is an urgent need to establish strong international mechanisms to prevent the global water crisis from spiralling out of control.”

Azoulay went on to stress the importance of equitable access to water for all, and of sustainable management.


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