Getting ready for the first World Drowning Prevention Day

How will the RNLI be marking the first World Drowning Prevention Day?

RNLI lifeguards patrolling the shoreline

Photo: RNLI

The first world awareness day for drowning prevention is taking place less than 3 months after the United Nations General Assembly adopted the first ever Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention. The Resolution acknowledged the issue of drowning for the first time in the UN’s 75-year history and established 25 July as World Drowning Prevention Day. 

This hasn’t left much time for preparation, but we won’t let a tight deadline stop us from marking such a significant day. 

On the adoption of the Resolution in April, our Chief Executive Mark Dowie said:

‘As an organisation dedicated to saving lives on and around the water, we are thrilled to have supported Member States in efforts to secure a UN Global Drowning Prevention Resolution. 

‘A new UN international day for drowning prevention offers an annual, global opportunity for governments, water safety organisations, and the public to come together to recognise the preventability of drowning, and the positive, practical actions that all of us can take to keep individuals, families and communities safe.’

So, how will the RNLI and other lifesaving organisations around the world be marking such a momentous day a month from now?

Marking the first World Drowning Prevention Day 

We are developing a media plan for the day, including a new video and social media resources that will be available for volunteers and staff to share. More information will be available through your usual RNLI communications when the new resources are ready in July.

We’re also working closely with partners in the UK, Ireland and beyond to shape and coordinate action: 

In the UK and Ireland … 

The UK National Water Safety Forum is hoping to use Maritime Safety Week (taking place between the 5 and 9 July) to raise the profile of the UN Resolution with the UK Government. 

Our partners at Water Safety Ireland are providing information and ideas for World Drowning Prevention Day activity for organisations in Ireland, including through their website.    

Internationally …

The RNLI is working closely with the World Health Organization to prepare a toolkit for water safety organisations worldwide who want to mark World Drowning Prevention Day. This toolkit, including key messages, social media resources and a new video, will be available in early July on the World Health Organisation website

In Bangladesh, RNLI partner the Centre for Injury and Prevention Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB) is working with other organisations to hold a webinar, organise a TV talk show and produce media articles in English and Bangla to raise awareness of drowning and encourage the government to finalise and launch the draft national drowning prevention policy. 

Our partners in Tanzania are hoping to use the day to raise awareness of drowning there, including the risks faced by many thousands of small-scale fishers who make their living on the unpredictable waters of Lake Victoria. There will be a webinar focusing on the UN Resolution and how it is relevant to Tanzania, as well as local events being organised in Zanzibar and in Mwanza (on the shores of Lake Victoria).

Plans are shaping up in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia for the launch of two new reports on drowning in the countries that make up those regions. The RNLI has supported the World Health Organization to develop these status reports, a critical milestone for two regions of the world that make up over 60% of global drownings. A virtual launch event will be held on 22 July, with RNLI representatives likely to be participating in a very early morning meeting! 

Due to Covid-19 restrictions it has not been possible to plan an event at the UN headquarters in New York this year. Instead, the RNLI will be working with the Ambassadors of Bangladesh and Ireland to raise awareness of the issue through social media and encouraging other governments, especially the 79 countries who co-sponsored the UN Resolution, to mark the historic day. 

What will you do to mark World Drowning Prevention Day? 

How will you mark World Drowning Prevention Day where you are? 

We would love to hear ideas from the volunteers and staff who work tirelessly to prevent drowning every day of the year. Share what you are planning in the comments below, or get in touch with international@rnli.org.uk

If you’ve got a great idea for how we could mark World Drowning Prevention Day in 2022, please share your ideas and suggestions at international@rnli.org.uk – thank you.