“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water”

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eatlesswater- Chiara Alfiero - Italy

Few have better expressed the crucial importance of water than British poet W. H. Auden.  In the lines quoted in the headline from the poem “First things first”, Auden  points out that  water is the basis of all life and even more important than love.

Water is also a priority in different forms on the agenda of the UN in 2013.

Water preservation is the theme of the Drop by Drop 2012-2013 travelling exhibition of the winning entries in the UNRIC ad competition. They have so far been displayed in  a dozen European countries, including all 5 Nordic countries, Russia and the 3 Baltic countries organized by  the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The first exposition was in the North Atlantic House in Copenhagen on World Environment Day 5 June 2012 when his Royal Highness Frederik the Crown Prince of Denmark handed over the Nordic Council of Ministers Prize to Danielle Gaspari, the winner of the competition.

The ad competition was held on the occasion of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development which also hosted a display of the competition´s  top 30 ads. Since Rio the drops have poured on Oslo, Arendal (Norway), Reykjavik (Iceland), Stockholm (Sweden), Marienham in Aaland, Helsinki (Finland), Tallinn (Estonia), Riga (Latvia), Vilnius (Lithuania), Moscow, St. Petersburg (Russia),  Lille, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse (France)  and  Monaco, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and the Hague (the Netherlands), Brussels Belgium. Prague (Czech Republic) and Gythei (Greece).

“We are quite proud of how widely our Ads have travelled and how often they have been used in publications,” says Árni Snævarr, UNRIC Nordic Desk Officer and one of the organizers. “Still I am proudest of the fact that they have been on display in Greenland, which may hold 10% of the world supply of fresh water. It is a bit like exporting sand to Sahara.”

DbD winner

2013 is the United Nations´ International year of Water Cooperation and the theme of 22 March, the World Water day. Several events are planned in most of the Nordic countries and worldwide, which can be seen on this map from UN Water  (http://www.unwater.org/water-cooperation-2013/events/worldwide-events/world-map-view/en/).

They main UN celebrations will be in the Hague, capital of the Netherlands, attended by both Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, which is the main organizer of the international year, and Michel Jarraud, head of UN Water.

Water has often been branded the oil of the 21st century and international competition on its use becomes ever more urgent as competition for water rescourses increases due to climate change, poverty, economic progress and population growth. If not properly managed this increased demand for scarce water resources t can become a source of local, regional and international conflicts.

But Water is also integral to another central UN theme in 2013: Food waste, which will be the theme of the World Environment Day, 5 June 2013 and the subject of UNEP´s campaign Think.Eat.Save.

But what has food waste to do with water? The statistics speak for themselves: Producing 1 kilo of beef consumes 15,000 litres of water and 1 kilo of wheat  "drinks up", 1,500 litres. 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten and the water used to produce it is definitively lost!

No wonder that one of the participants in the Drop by Drop competitions submitted an ad which said: “Eat less water”!

Written, UNRIC Nordic Desk