On 29 April 2021 the United Nations made history when it adopted an official resolution on global drowning prevention for the first time in the organisation’s history.

One year on from that historic day, the IMRF is proud to continue its work as an advocate for improving maritime search and rescue (SAR) capabilities around the world, ensuring that saving lives at sea remains a humanitarian task that transcends international and political boundaries.

As part of the resolution, the UN declared that 25 July each year would officially be known as ‘World Drowning Prevention Day’ to serve as an opportunity to highlight the tragic effect of drowning on families and communities, as well as offering life-saving solutions to prevent it.

“By having an official World Drowning Prevention Day, we can use this as an opportunity to raise awareness of the work that the IMRF and all its members are doing to ensure those working, living, and recreating at sea can do so safe in the knowledge that the right people are out there to help them in an emergency,” said Theresa Crossley, Chief Executive Officer, IMRF.

What is the resolution?

The resolution, which was proposed by the governments of Ireland and Bangladesh, was co-sponsored by 79 other countries with support from the RNLI, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The resolution looks to bring together governments, UN agencies, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations like the IMRF, academia, individuals, and the private sector to highlight the need for urgent and co-ordinated action on drowning prevention measures.

It outlined a framework of actions that every country should take to prevent drowning. This includes appointing a national focal point for drowning reduction and having a national plan to share lessons learned and recording national drowning statistics. The full resolution can be read at this link: https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/75/273.

According to the WHO, approximately 236,000 people drown every year, with drowning one of the 10 leading causes of death for children. More than 90% of drowning deaths occur in rivers, lakes, wells, and domestic water storage vessels in low- and middle-income countries, with children and adolescents in rural areas disproportionately affected.

What can the IMRF and its members do to mark World Drowning Prevention Day on 25 July?

The IMRF exists to develop and improve maritime SAR capabilities around the world. World Drowning Prevention Day gives not only the IMRF but all our members the opportunity to promote awareness of keeping safe at sea, as well as showcase all the work, technology, and best practices that we as a SAR community have been developing. 

World Drowning Prevention Day gives all of us the chance to engage with national governments, fellow SAR organisations, and the public about best practice in water safety and maritime SAR. It is also gives us the opportunity to see how your country’s SAR framework lines up with the UN resolution, 12 months on from its adoption.

This is also a chance for us to ask challenging questions about drowning prevention and promote local and national maritime SAR awareness campaigns.

Most importantly, this is an opportunity for the IMRF and all our members to showcase what we do best: improving maritime SAR capabilities in order to save lives at sea.

We look forward to seeing what your organisation does for World Drowning Prevention Day on 25 July.

The impact of climate change on drowning

Prior to World Drowning Prevention Day, the International Drowning Researchers Alliance (IDRA) is hosting a special meeting on 2 June in Waterford, Ireland, ahead the Lifesaving Foundation Conference later that week, that will look at the impact of climate change on drowning.

The meeting, which is being held in conjunction with The Lifesaving Foundation, will consider the effect that climate change will have on drowning and lifesaving efforts, both now and in the future. It will discuss topics such as rising sea levels, flooding, climate-driven migration, and sustainable lifesaving, as well as social, medical and mental health considerations.

The event is free to attend and will be a blended live and virtual meeting. You can read more about the meeting and how to join here: http://idra.world/event_climate/