World Water Day 2010 "Clean Water for a Healthy World"

22 Mar 2010
Bangkok, Thailand

On 22 March 2010, United Nations observed World Water Day, with the theme “Clean Water for a Healthy World.” The observance was hosted by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The event was opened by the Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP, the Regional Director of UNEP and the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Royal Thai Government. The observance began with a message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon read by the Deputy Executive Serecretary of ESCAP.

“Our growing population’s need for water for food, raw materials and energy is increasingly competing with nature’s own demands for water to sustain already imperiled ecosystems and the services on which we depend,” said Mr Ban. “Day after day, we pour millions of tons of untreated sewage and industrial and agricultural wastes into the world’s water systems.”

Human activity is responsible for unprecedented contamination of water resources, leading to high levels of disease and infant mortality, with the poor paying the highest cost. Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and other effluents drain into the world’s waters, aggravating water quality.
Nearly nine out of every 10 diarrhea incidents – which kill approximately 2.2 million people a year - are attributed to poor sanitation and dirty water. In South and South-East Asia, diarrhea is responsible for up to 8.5 per cent of all deaths, which is the highest in the world. In Asia-Pacific, 620 million people live without adequate water and at least 1.8 billion people do without adequate sanitation.

Dr. Saksit Tridech, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MoNRE) of the Royal Thai Government, gave a keynote speech about the challenges of raising awareness on water quality in Thailand. At the panel discussion on: Challenges and Trends on Clean Water for a Healthy World in Asia that followed, issues of agricultural, industrial and domestic water use and impacts on quality were addressed. The experiences and good practices at the Muang Klaeng Municipality of Thailand, FAO, UNICEF and ESCAP were presented and discussed to illustrate various initiatives undertaken at different levels - local, national, regional and global.

A team of students from the KIS International School also presented the results of a bacteria count study of the Ampawa River in Thailand, which showed a high correlation between bacterial contamination and human settlements. The students’ message called for the “generation who contributed to the destruction of the environment” to see the “warning signs” and dare to change.

The celebration also involved an exhibition on water quality initiatives in Thailand and the region, highlighting that appropriate responses to water quality problems offer opportunities for development and for Green Growth.