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World Drowning Prevention Day

The RNLI won’t stand by while anyone, anywhere, drowns.

Securing a global commitment to drowning prevention

Drowning has cost the world over 2.5 million lives in the last decade. The vast majority of these deaths could - and should - have been prevented. This issue doesn’t get the attention it deserves, and we are working hard to change that.

Why is the RNLI involved?

The RNLI has been working internationally on drowning prevention for 10 years, drawing on almost 200 years of lifesaving experience within the UK and Ireland. We aim to be a catalyst for drowning prevention, working with partners globally and in countries where drowning is a significant problem, to raise awareness, widen the research base and identify solutions to save more lives.

The RNLI also helps to influence policy and practice, encouraging others like the United Nations (UN), national governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to take action on drowning prevention.

We have spent the past few years raising awareness of the scale of global drowning and supporting UN Member States to secure political commitments to end drowning.

What did the RNLI do?

With the RNLI’s support, several governments came together to form a Group of Friends on Drowning Prevention in 2018. The ‘Group of Friends’ is a widely used UN mechanism for like-minded UN Member States to drive action on a particular issue.   

With the RNLI acting as secretariat, the Group of Friends on Drowning Prevention organised and supported events to raise awareness of drowning prevention with other governments, and worked to secure a first-ever UN resolution. Two governments, Bangladesh and Ireland, took a lead in this effort and proposed a resolution to the UN General Assembly.

Flags flying outside United Nations headquarters in New York City

Photo: RNLI/Kate Eardley

A historic milestone: For the first time in its 75-year history, the United Nations have acknowledged the issue of drowning prevention 

A new global commitment on drowning prevention

In April 2021, the United Nations adopted a historic Resolution on drowning prevention, acknowledging the issue for the first time in its 75-year history.

The Global Drowning Prevention Resolution establishes drowning as an important international issue, recognised by all 193 Member States of the UN. It sets out the actions that every country should take to prevent drowning and establishes an annual World Drowning Prevention Day, which will be marked each year on 25 July.

A new annual World Drowning Prevention Day

At the RNLI, we believe that even one drowning is one too many. As we strive to save every one, World Drowning Prevention Day is an important opportunity to get involved and play our part in raising awareness of drowning prevention as part of the global community, as well as at home.

The RNLI won’t stand by while anyone, anywhere, drowns.

The first World Drowning Prevention Day was marked on 25 July 2021 by individuals, organisations and governments in many countries, including the UK and Ireland.

In 2022 the RNLI is responding to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) call to ‘do one thing’ by working with the UK National Water Safety Forum and supporting the launch of a new Respect the Water campaign that will go live on 25 July.

The campaign focuses on who to call if you see someone struggling in the water, reminding the public that for inland locations you should call 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue Service, but for coastal locations you should call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

The RNLI is also supporting partners in Bangladesh and Tanzania to mark the day through events involving children and their families, fishing communities, parliamentarians and news outlets.

If you want to help, look out for #DrowningPrevention on social media.

A young boy plays with a wheel in front of a body of water at dusk in rural Bangladesh

Photo: Syed Naem

World Drowning Prevention Day will highlight the need for urgent action in countries such as Bangladesh
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