World Water Day draws attention to sustainable water use practices
There are currently 32 long-term drinking water advisories in Canada, 28 of which impact Indigenous communities
World Water Day is an annual United Nations event that brings awareness to global water rights taking place on March 22 since 1993. The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by its members in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
For billions of people across the globe, safe clean drinking water is inaccessible. According to a UN water statistics overview, 1.6 billion people don’t have access to safe drinking water, and at least 3 billion don’t know the quality of their water because it’s unmonitored.
“It is really good to have World Water Day because then, for at least one day of the year, people pause and reflect,” says Dr. Ross Michael Pink, a political science instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and co-founder of Global Water Rights, a Vancouver-based educational non-profit organization that brings awareness to water rights issues.
“Water is the most important human right in the world. There are currently about 800 million people in the world that have no clean water in their village, their home, or their community,” Pink says.
KPU is one of three post-secondary institutions from British Columbia to sign the UN’s Sustainability Goals Accord and create a plan to achieve major sustainability goals by 2050, including water conservation and education measures.
“Education is important because … people think that you need a massive movement or you need a government to make change, but the truth is that change can happen one person at a time,” Pink says.
Although efforts are being made at KPU, the UN estimates it would require a four-time increase in progress to meet the water sustainability targets.
“Our standards for laws on environmental protection are very weak, and that’s another reason why we’re not meeting our sustainability goals,” Pink says.
Although Canada has one of the highest natural water sources in the world, there are still 32 long-term drinking water advisories impacting 28 Indigenous communities.
Canada has taken steps backwards in the water conservation fight, such as when Denis Coderre, former mayor of Montreal, permitted untreated sewage to be dumped in the St. Lawrence river.
“Whether it is in a developed country or a developing country, you get corrupt unethical politicians and business people who are willing to sacrifice human rights, or … the purity of our environment to make a few bucks. That is what is happening all over the world,” Pink says.
World Water Day has doubled its efforts by announcing the UN 2023 Water Conference. The conference will provide an opportunity for the world to unite around solving the water and sanitation crisis while including people from all levels of society coming together to commit action. The conference will take place between March 22 to 24 in New York City.
“What these sustainability events … do is they refocus on the importance of sustainability and the precious gift of the environment,” Pink says.
“Sustainability is a multi-year, multi-person, multi-institution effort. Everybody needs to be involved — all hands on deck.”
Anyone can practice water sustainability by doing small things like using a towel more than once, taking shorter showers, and avoiding the use of chemical fertilizer on lawns.
To get involved or learn more about World Water Day visit https://www.worldwaterday.org/.