The UN Water Action Decade will officially kick off next week. On 22 March, World Water Day, the UN initiative will launch with a call to everyone – governments, businesses and individuals – to act now to safeguard this most precious resource.

In an open letter from the high level panel on water, convened by the UN in 2016, global leaders are told “governments, communities, the private sector and researchers will need to collaborate” as “the world is facing a water crisis”.

It continues: “Water is a precious resource and one of the greatest global risks to economic progress, poverty eradication, peace and security, and sustainable development. The many changes required will not be easy, but we have no choice. We call on our fellow leaders to take action now, inspiring collaboration and driving an integrated approach across government.”

The panel says “an inclusive approach will be necessary, drawing in sectors such as agriculture and leaders such as city mayors and CEOs” and that “new partnerships and ways of working will be crucial”.

“We have to be responsible as individuals too,” the letter adds. “We should all value water as a precious resource, use it wisely, not waste or pollute it, and inspire others to do the same”.

Find out more about World Water Day on the event’s website.