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The IAPMO Group has announced that in celebration of World Water Day, it will co-host a webinar on Tuesday, March 23 at 11 a.m. EST titled "Water Security, Sanitation, and Hygiene in a World Combatting COVID."
IAPMO will co-host the online event with Global Water 2020, InterAction, the Millennium Water Alliance, UNICEF USA, WaterAid America and the World Wildlife Fund, in conjunction with the Congressional International Water and Sanitation Caucus.
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Administrator Gloria Steele will deliver remarks, along with U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Grace Meng (D-NY) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN). There will also be a special message from Sesame Street's Raya.
"World Water Day draws important attention to the hundreds of millions of people who have been left behind," said Dain Hansen, executive vice president of IAPMO Government Relations. "We are pleased to be working with Congress and governments around the world in recognizing the important role that industry plays in providing solutions that are sustainable. This is important to our economy, as well, as 1 in 5 American jobs are tied to international trade. That 80% of purchasing power lies outside the United States cannot be overlooked."
Improving global WASH access adds more than $60 billion to the world economy annually, returning $4.30 for every $1 invested. Conversely, poor sanitation and water supply result in estimated economic losses of $260 billion annually in developing countries (1.5 percent of GDP).
In advance of Tuesday's online event, the co-chairs of the Congressional International Water and Sanitation Caucus issued the following statements:
Rep. Blumenauer, founder and co-chair of the Congressional International Water and Sanitation Caucus: "Access to clean, safe drinking water and sanitation is not only essential in the prevention of disease and death, it is a basic human right. While most of us take clean water for granted in the fight against COVID-19, billions around the globe are unable to effectively wash their hands at home. Even more, basic water services and sanitation are lacking in more than 45 percent of health care facilities in low-resource areas, putting healthcare workers at greater risk. Water scarcity will continue to increase as our climate emergency worsens and billions more will face water shortages. We must take action now to ensure and expand access to safe and sustainable drinking water and sanitation."
Rep. LaHood: "As we celebrate World Water Day, it's important to remember that inadequate water and sanitation around the world is a risk to America's national security and our global health. Improving global WASH access and standards is more important now than ever as we confront the challenges of COVID-19 on the global stage. As co-chair of the International Water and Sanitation Caucus in Congress, I will continue to work with my colleagues to promote sanitation solutions and standards that improve access to clean water around the world."
Rep. Meng: "On World Water Day, I thank all the public servants, advocates, and other leaders who work tirelessly to ensure all have access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Since 1993, the United Nations has celebrated this day with activities to highlight the importance water plays in our lives; this year's theme is how we 'value water.' I value access to clean water as a human right and believe everyone — regardless of ethnicity, country, language, and socio-economic status — should enjoy this fundamental right. As vice chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, I will continue to ensure robust funding for critical programs that aid this effort."
Rep. Walorski: "On World Water Day, we reaffirm our commitment to improving access to clean water for drinking, sanitation, and hygiene in communities across the globe. As the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear, access to adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene — or WASH — helps communities treat illness and prevent the spread of disease. Safe water infrastructure and sanitation can also foster economic empowerment and growth, because ready access to clean water allows people to focus more time on work, education, and involvement in civic life."
The United Nations General Assembly designated March 22, 1993, as the first World Water Day. The day celebrates water and raises awareness of the global water crisis, and a core focus of the observance is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030. Each year, U.N. Water — the entity that coordinates the U.N.'s work on water and sanitation — sets a theme for World Water Day that corresponds with a current or future challenge. This year's theme is "valuing water."