Organisations and individuals around the world are celebrating World Water Day today, 22 March. This year the spotlight is on the economic and livelihood implications of water with the theme ‘Water and Jobs’.
World Water Day is an opportunity to learn more about water-related issues and to be inspired to help create a future where clean, thriving and safe waterways is the norm.
The water and jobs theme delves into how water underpins economies and livelihoods, looking at how the quantity and quality of water can change workers' lives and livelihoods – and even transform societies and economies.
To put this into context, just think about this: 1.5 billion people worldwide work in water-related sectors, and in developing countries millions of women and children spend hours daily collecting water for their families and communities – time that could be spent on other work if they had local access to clean water.
The connection is not hard to make for New Zealand either, where many businesses employ people working directly in water: Morphum Environmental Ltd, Opus International Consultants, Auckland Council, Watercare, Thomas Civil and Environmental Consultants and Explore Group to name just a few in our Network.
New Zealand’s two key export earners are underpinned by water – agriculture, which relies on abundant supplies of clean water for all aspects of production, and tourism, which relies on the appeal of pristine waterways.
Both of these sectors, which employ huge numbers of people, are increasingly at risk of losing market access internationally as we fail to adequately address the deterioration of water quality in many of our rivers and lakes.
World Water Day is being recognised by many events globally. One example, Water Now 2016 is a social media campaign to fundraise for clean water for children around the world through UN World Water. The campaign has garnered support from many global celebrities and has achieved huge reach.
At the Sustainable Business Network we have hosted an online photo competition – #mywaterwaynz – for the five weeks leading up to World Water Day. The winners have been announced this morning in recognition of World Water Day.
The competition has engaged individuals from all over the country in a celebration of the many outstanding waterways we know and love. It’s also an important opportunity to highlight the many waterways that are polluted and in need of restoration.
Other initiatives in New Zealand include: the Living Water partnership between the Department of Conservation (Million Metres funder), QEII National Trust (Million Metres Field Partner) and Fonterra to enable more farmland bush to be protected and to promote healthy waterways; and a campaign by Auckland University’s Energy Centre to raise awareness about water-related issues.