Current Affairs 22 March 2019 Digest 1: World Water Day, International Day of Forests observed
The World Water Day was observed across the globe on March 22 with the theme ‘Leaving no one behind’. The sustainable development goal 6 aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030, which by definition means leaving no one behind.
Story 1- World Water Day observed with theme ‘Leaving no one behind’
The World Water Day was observed across the globe on March 22, 2019 with the theme ‘Leaving no one behind’. The theme is the central promise of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, which states that as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit.
The sustainable development goal 6 aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030, which by definition means leaving no one behind.
The day is observed every year on March 22 to emphasise on the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
• The day is an international observance and an opportunity to learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others and take action to make a difference.
• The day is coordinated by UN-Water, the UN’s inter-agency collaboration mechanism for all freshwater related issues, in collaboration with governments and partners.
• Every year, UN-Water sets a theme for World Water Day corresponding to a current or future challenge.
• The engagement campaign is coordinated by one or several of the UN-Water Members with a related mandate.
• Under this year’s theme, water services must meet the needs of all people including the marginalised groups and their voices must be heard in decision-making processes.
Water is a vital resource that not only helps sustain life but also helps create jobs and support economic, social and human development.
Currently, billions of people acrosss the world are living without safe water and as a result their households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories are struggling to survive and thrive.
Inequality in accessing water
In 2010, the UN recognised “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”
The human right to water entitles everyone, without discrimination, to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use; which includes water for drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation and personal and household hygiene.
People are left behind without having access to safe and clean water for many different reasons such as their gender, race, religion, caste, ethnicity, nationality, disability, age, health status, property, economic and social status.
Other factors including environmental degradation, climate change, population growth, conflict, forced displacement and migration flows also disproportionately affect marginalised groups through impacts on water.
An International Day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating March 22, 1993 as the first World Water Day.
On the occasion, the states were invited to devote the day to concrete activities such as the promotion of public awareness through the production and dissemination of documentaries and the organisation of conferences, round tables, seminars and expositions related to the conservation and development of water resources and the implementation of the recommendations of Agenda 21.
Story 2- International Day of Forests observed with theme ‘Forests and Education’
The International Day of Forests (IDF) was observed on March 21, 2019 with the theme ‘ Forests and Education: Learn to Love Forests’. The day is observed every year on the same date to raise awareness on how sustainably managed forests provide a wide array of contributions in this area.
This year’s theme aims to promote education to learn to love forests. It underscores the importance of education at all levels in achieving sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation, as healthy forests mean healthy, resilient communities and prosperous economies.
• The International Day of Forests celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests.
• The day is held annually to raise awareness of the importance of forests to people and their vital role in poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and food security.
• Every year on this day, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organise activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.
• The day’s theme for each year is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), whose members agreed in 2017 that the day’s theme would provide an opportunity to highlight specific forest contributions to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by considering topics of the annual sessions of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
Forests, their sustainable management and use of resources, including in fragile ecosystems, are key to combating climate change and to contributing to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations.
Forests also play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Hence, sustainable management of all types of forests are at the heart of unlocking challenges of conflict-affected, developing and developed countries, for the benefit of current and future generations.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2012, which declared that March 21 of each year is to be observed as the International Day of Forests.
The resolution encourages all member states to organise activities relating to all types of forests including tree-planting and other community-level events, and national celebrations including art, photo and film as well as social media outreach.
Forests cover one third of the Earth's land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures depend on forests for their livelihoods, medicines, fuel, food and shelter.
Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80 per cent of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.
Despite all these ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate with 13 million hectares of forest destroyed annually.
Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.