The year 2003 has been designated as the United Nations International Year of Fresh Water…

…and Canada is making a significant contribution to this international initiative. Water is essential to all life on this planet, and this initiative brings together people from every corner of the globe – all united by a common need for water.

Pure Spring Canadian WaterCanada is extending the Year of Fresh Water into a two year stewardship initiative called The Wonder of Water (WOW).

Canada’s Wonder of Water initiative was designed from the ground-up to make a difference. Over the next two years, we will create and implement stewardship and educational opportunities running from coast to coast to coast.

When the initiative ends in 2004, Canadians will be more aware of the fragile nature of our freshwater ecosystems.

This initiative, which follows the highly successful International Year of Mountains, shows how easy it can be to “think globally, but act locally”.

Join us as we celebrate water and our way of life!

The International Year of Fresh Water

The United Nations has proclaimed 2003 the International Year of Fresh Water. Their purpose in doing so is to promote efforts to protect the world’s fresh water resource and give more people access to reliable and safe sources of drinking water. About 40% of the world’s population ― more than two billion people ― presently face water shortages. Given present human population growth rates, the UN predicts that by 2025 two-thirds of the world’s population ― some 5.5 billion people ― will live without adequate water. In fact, people predict that soon we’ll be investing in water. Small business in Vancouver and across Canada have to be smart before they invest into any technology and do their appropriate due diligence (Even if it’s water).  While Canada appears to have abundant fresh water resources, they are not evenly distributed throughout the country. Changes in precipitation patterns, dramatic glacial recession, and increases in demand are forcing Canadians to re-evaluate the importance of water to our economy and our cultural and ecological heritage.

Canadians across the country will be using the United Nations International Year of Fresh Water as a foundation upon which to launch a two-year celebration of the importance of water to our way of life. In 2003 and 2004, Canadians will be celebrating how water shapes the land upon which we live and how it defines us as a nation. Sponsored by Environment Canada, Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Columbia Basin Trust, the two-year Wonder of Water initiative will support the development of a network of partner organizations that will share understanding and appreciation of how our country has been shaped by what water is and by what water does.

The two-year Wonder of Water initiative will provide new perspectives on the nature and importance of water to our partners and to the public. It will showcase education-based partner events and celebrations that underscore our society’s physical and cultural relationship to fresh water. The initiative will also profile leading edge Canadian initiatives in water conservation and stewardship. The legacy of theWonder of Water celebration will be the creation of durable partnerships that will continue to broaden Canadian understanding and appreciation of the precious nature of our water resources long into the future.

The Wonder of Water is a learning and stewardship initiative with well-defined objectives and carefully applied guidelines that will give partners the tools they need to learn and share the best and latest existing knowledge about the importance of water to Canadians.


The objective of the United Nations International Year of Fresh Water and Wonder of Water celebrations is to mount a Canadian celebration that will encourage our partners to:

  1. Translate UN global objectives into messages that will engage Canadians and their guests in the understanding and appreciation of how community social well-being and economic vitality are sustained worldwide by water and the part it plays in creating and sustaining a healthy environment.
  2. Utilize already existing public outreach programming, community events and selected media and water resource management and outreach organizations to reach 25% of the residents in the watersheds in which we have partners with significant new knowledge about how water shapes our cultural and ecological heritage and how water resources are being managed locally.
  3. Profile and encourage leading-edge Canadian initiatives aimed at efficient water management and use, water quality improvement and aquatic ecosystem restoration.
  4. Encourage the initiation of at least 25 positive, direct action stewardship programs initiated by our partners that measurably improve water quality or aquatic ecosystem health in Canadian watersheds.
  5. Encourage the creation of durable partnerships that will continue to broaden Canadian understanding and appreciation of the precious nature of our water resources long into the future.

A Two-Pronged Approach to Celebrating Water and Our Way of Life

The United Nations International Year of Fresh Water and Wonder of Water Celebration will take a two-pronged approach to achieving its goal of upgrading public awareness of the importance of water to our way of life.

The first prong will provide a link between science and public education about the nature of water, its role in our ecosystems, its importance in human affairs and the need for water conservation and stewardship now and in the future.

The second prong of this initiative will celebrate how water has influenced our identity as a people and our image as a nation. This prong will celebrate how the nature and abundance of water have shaped our history, language, art and culture.

What’s Different About This Initiative

The goal of reaching a large percentage of those living in the major watersheds of Canada can only be achieved through an expanded partnership that includes groups that have not yet worked closely together. The potential mutual benefits of such an expanded partnership could, however, be substantial and endure long after the celebration. The United Nations International Year of Fresh Water and Wonder of Water celebrations will link seven complementary partnership streams to achieve its goals. These streams include:

  1. Scientific research institutes and the academic community.
  2. Volunteer and non-profit water stewardship groups and local, regional and national educational outreach organizations.
  3. Watershed basin councils composed of representatives from towns, cities, agriculture, industry, academia, non-profit organizations, First Nations, government and the public in each of the designated watersheds.
  4. Municipalities, municipal districts and counties.
  5. Agriculture and Industry.
  6. National and provincial parks, protected places and historic sites at the headwaters and throughout the watersheds of our river systems.
  7. The Canadian tourism industry and our cultural community.

Though objectives will vary slightly in each of these domains, the ultimate goal is to create partnership synergies and public profile that will draw increasing attention to the importance of water to our way of life.

If every partner commits to undertaking one or two well-planned events, then the combined effort will create a effective and memorable celebration.

Nature's Gift To Canadians