Inaugural Water Week seeks to educate and inspire children and young people

Inaugural UN Water Week UK brings together science, sustainability and storytelling with the water and entertainment industry to inspire the next generation of water conservationists
  •     Initiative seeks to educate and inspire children and young people
  •     Collective approach supports delivery of UN Sustainable Development Goals for UN Water Action Decade
  •     Aims to promote existing water education programmes, resources and opportunities for children and young people to visit treatment facilities
  •    Launch events taking place in UK Parliament and regional assemblies
  •   Campaign blueprint being developed for global delivery by 2028
  •    Calling the music and entertainment industry to collaborate for UN Water Action Decade goals
  •   UN officials to attend Royal Geographic Society June 5th UN World Environment Day for network reception
An initiative that aims to inform, inspire, and empower children and young people around global water challenges is bringing together representatives from the United Nations and NGOs, as well as industry leaders and policymakers, who are all doing vital work in this space. They are working together with organisations from the film, media and entertainment industry ahead of the inaugural UK Water Week – 3-9th June 2024.
Water Week will kickstart water action activations from September 2024, laddering up to the UK Parliamentary Youth Summit on March 22, UN World Water Day 2025.
Water Week is being developed in the UK to create a blueprint for global replication and aims to be delivered globally by 2028.  It is being delivered in alignment with goals of the UN-Water 2030 Strategy as part of the United Nations Water Action Decade.
Collective impact
Over 180 organisations have already taken part in the consultation to help inform the UK Water Week delivery strategy and major international children’s entertainment brands and broadcasters have already signed up to support the campaign. Katy Newnham, director of Wastebuster, a charity delivering environmental awareness campaigns in schools, is coordinating a roadmap for the initiative.
She said, “Coming together in this ground-breaking collective impact initiative demonstrates the values of UN Sustainable Development Goal 17 – Partnerships for the Goals. It presents an extraordinary opportunity for multiple stakeholders to come together to maximise the power of collective impact and help inspire the next generation of water conservationists.”
The campaign aims to curate a global, world class STEAM education programme by highlighting existing water education programmes and content created by the entertainment industry, broadcasters, NGOs and academics including films, documentaries, clips, shorts and music alongside engaging scientific presentations, papers, tools and studies that explain not challenges we face to conserve water, but the solutions that can be undertaken by all stakeholders to tackle them. Water Week will then, showcase all programmes and activities offered by NGOs, industry, and government to take positive action.
Schools, children and young people and their families, will then be encouraged to ‘pledge’ to get involved in activities that are recognised as Water Week as part of a large-scale citizen science programme, to reduce water pollution and measure impact. The Water Week Roadshow will invite all organisations and schools signed up to take part to be visited and featured as part of the roadshow to showcase the activity underway across the UK to conserve and protect water.
Businesses, NGOs, charities, academic institutions, youth organisations and schools that join the Water Action Partnership will be demonstrating a commitment to take positive action to save water and reduce water pollution for the UN Water Action Decade.
Giving children and young people agency to be changemakers is an important part of Water Week. Training of children and young people to be ‘Water Week reporters’ and providing Water Action Youth Summit events in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales will culminate in a UK-wide summit.
This will provide an opportunity for young people to express their concerns and propose ideas as solutions to water challenges to panels of cross-sector representatives, and they may see their ideas become a reality. In this way, Water Week will encourage young people to play an active role in being pro-active, responsible global citizens and the next generation of water conservationists.
“Working together, we aim to harness the power of entertainment for social change and inspire children and young people to appreciate the importance of water conservation, and to activate real and measurable change through mass civic engagement,” said Newnham.
The first Water Week takes place 3-9 June 2024, and is the kick-off for six months of action, which involves scientific storytelling and educational engagement of children and young people, and is expected to result in a measurable impact on water pollution. The initiative is expected to inspire shift in thinking to solve global water challenges and the more organisations that get on board, the bigger the impact is expected to be.
Scientists and storytellers
Through, an open-source footage library of our changing planet, created by Studio Silverback, the award-winning filmmakers behind Our Planet and Blue Planet, Water Week will make use of some of the most stunning, hard-hitting, and empowering footage from across the natural world – with all content freely available to storytellers for educational and impact use.
Emily Renshaw-Smith, executive director of operations for Open Planet said, “It’s fantastic to see the launch of Water Week at a time when creative, compelling and scientifically accurate storytelling on the SDGs is so urgently needed. With Open Planet’s support, we hope the initiative can inspire a new wave of storytelling from diverse voices, especially young people as our future leaders and innovators in water conservation.”
Newnham explained, “We aim to deliver world class STEAM education – that’s science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths – for children and young people; not only in schools, but through mainstream children’s media, by engaging with some of the greatest scientists and storytellers of our time.
“We will identify solutions for the maintenance and restoration of the health and well-being of water ecosystems in the countries in which Water Week takes place. We will then encourage mass participation in large-scale citizen science activities to activate positive change.”
Caroline Petit, deputy director of the United Nations Regional Information Center (UNRIC) said, “We know what we have to do. We have the roadmap with the Sustainable Development Goals.
“So let us take action and protect, sustainably manage and ensure equitable access to water for all. Progress depends on our actions, not on our words.”
National and international broadcasters, popular children’s brands social media and news platforms will amplify messaging around the initiative, giving children and young people a voice.
The Wombles have been picking up litter, recycling and repurposing since 1968. We caught up with veteran Womble Great Uncle Bulgaria over a cup of tea.
He said, “As one of the founding partners of the Water Week campaign, we believe the art of storytelling is a powerful tool to empower, educate and bring together local communities for the power of good. It is obvious that water is important to us all, so let’s ensure we protect it.
“Facing environmental issues alone can be scary, but when we come together as a community we are powerful. So, join your local Wombles community group, make friends, and change the world for the better.”
Helena Mansell-Stopher, chief executive of Products of Change, a founding partner of Water Week, said, “Education is the passport to the future, as tomorrow only belongs to the people who prepare for it today, and that’s why it’s so important to give the next generation the tools to inform their future decisions, and the opportunity to voice their concerns. Products of Change is proud to forge alliances with Wastebusters and the UN, facilitating collaborations within industry to champion initiatives aimed at fostering positive change.”
Natasha Wiseman, chief executive of positive news platform Make Water Famous said, “We were delighted to be contacted at a very early stage about the UK Water Week initiative, and it couldn’t be a better fit with Make Water Famous.
“As a positive news platform with a mission to share the word on water to as many people as possible – especially young people – we are excited to give voice to the amazing activities taking place in May and throughout the year. An extraordinary range of companies and individuals is already getting involved in this uniquely creative opportunity and I urge anyone who shares this ambition to get on board.”
The themes for the inaugural UK Water Week 2024 are youth engagement and water pollution, and the Water Action Partnership invites all companies and organisations committed to improving outcomes for water and the environment to join the global multi-stakeholder collaboration to inform the delivery strategy and to maximise impact.
Newnham said, “We want to increase reach by working with these partners and ideally create a tipping point so we can try to social norm the attitudes and behaviours that will reduce water pollution, but not just water pollution. It is also about conserving water and tackling a wide range of water issues.”
Newnham said that the first Water Week is providing the UK with an opportunity to demonstrate leadership for the UN Water Action Decade. As the inaugural campaign is being developed there, the UK can demonstrate capacity for localisation, to ensure suitability for global replication.
“In the longer term, this will generate a model that can activate positive change in all the countries and communities in which it operates.”
Preparations are underway for launch events and youth summits in the UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and Northern Irish Assembly, to encourage schools and young people to take water action pledges. These commitments will be taken throughout the year.
The overall impact in terms of reducing water pollution will be measured and celebrated during Water Week 2025.
To find out more about joining the Water Action Partnership, and for updates about the organisations already committed, email Claire Poulson
To see the Water Week website go to: or
To share news about Water Week activities undertaken by your organisation, email

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