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March 22 is World Water Day but that may have escaped notice, particularly in flooded areas of the central United States. So what is this day about? According to the official site, it is about “exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.” As some readers may have noted, World Water Day is a proclamation of the United Nations, so it might be about a bureaucratic solution to water challenges. True to form, another UN Water Day site explains, “water is an essential building block of life. It is more than just essential to quench thirst or protect health; water is vital for creating jobs and supporting economic, social, and human development.” I mean, there had been a lot of confusion about all that until the UN cleared it up.
World Water Day is coordinated by UN-Water “the UN’s inter-agency collaboration mechanism for all freshwater related issues – in collaboration with governments and partners.” But wait, “there is no single UN entity dedicated exclusively to water issues. Over 30 UN organizations carry out water and sanitation programmes, reflecting the fact that water issues run through all of the UN’s main focus areas.” And water issues are at the heart of “recent milestone agreements” such as the UN Convention Framework on Climate Change.
Despite the 30 UN organizations, water is not evenly distributed between continents, countries, states, counties or even municipalities. Australia, a particularly arid nation, has achieved great success with a system of tradable water rights. Such water markets holds more promise for arid regions such as California than the vapors of a wasteful and unaccountable bureaucracy with an annual budget of $5.4 billion.