World Water Day, 22 March

World Water Day 2024 highlights the central role that water plays in shaping global peace, stability, and prosperity.

Water can create peace or spark conflict.

When water is scarce or polluted, or when people have unequal, or no access to water, tensions can rise between communities and countries.

As the impacts of climate change increase and populations grow, there is an urgent need, within and between countries, to unite around protecting and conserving our most precious resource.

Public health and prosperity, food and energy systems, economic productivity and environmental integrity all rely on a well-functioning and equitably managed water cycle.

This means that non-discrimination and equality in ensuring access to water and sanitation can have a positive ripple effect across society.

Peaceful cooperation around water can lead to peaceful cooperation in all sectors.

Water and agriculture: catalysts for lasting peace and stability

Agriculture, which accounts for 72% of global freshwater withdrawals, is one of the keys to fostering lasting peace and security. Indeed, agriculture is a cornerstone for peace and stability, ensuring food security and sustaining livelihoods, particularly among the most vulnerable populations.

Yet, the very foundation of food security is under constant threat from conflict and disruption.

As we are to feed a projected global population of 10 billion by 2050, agricultural production will need to increase by nearly 50% compared to 2012.

Achieving this goal depends largely on innovations in water management, including irrigation and water harvesting, and in sustainable agricultural practices.

With more than 3 billion people living in water-stressed areas, optimizing the efficiency of agricultural water use is paramount.

Responsible governance of water tenure is also essential to ensure equitable access to water for all, leaving no one behind. It helps to mitigate conflicts and promote community cohesion. Recognizing informal and customary rights to water use is key in this endeavour, as it promotes fairness and helps mitigate tensions between sectors or communities.

This World Water Day is about working together to balance everyone’s needs, to ensure that no one is left behind, and to make water a catalyst for a more peaceful and prosperous world for all.