The organising committee is pleased to announce that the World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2023 (WCDP2023) is to be co-sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO has had a profound impact on drowning prevention, especially since the publication of the Global Report on Drowning in 2014.

This news reinforces that 2023 is an exciting time to bring together the world’s foremost experts, researchers and policymakers in drowning prevention, rescue, lifesaving and water safety for exchange of ideas, debate, and review of the latest progress on preventing drowning.

Since the last World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Durban in 2019, there has been four significant developments: the first United Nations Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention (2021); the declaration of World Drowning Prevention Day on 25 July annually; the World Health Assembly Resolution – Accelerating action on global drowning prevention (2023); and the announcement of a Global Alliance to increase cohesion, and collaboration across United Nations Agencies, civil society and the donor community.

Every year, there are an estimated 236 000 drowning deaths worldwide.  Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for seven per cent of all injury-related deaths. Global estimates may significantly underestimate the actual public health burden of drowning.

Dr David Meddings from the WHO Department of Social Determinants of Health said the two WHO regions closest to Australia had some of the highest drowning rates.

“Low- and middle-income countries account for over 90 per cent of unintentional drowning deaths; over half of the world’s drowning occurs in the WHO Western Pacific Region and WHO South-East Asia Region, Dr Meddings said.

“The tragic fact is that the highest drowning death rates are in the WHO Western Pacific Region and those are 27-32 times higher than those seen in Australia.”

Key themes arising from the United Nations and World Health Assembly resolutions will be explored during plenary sessions, symposia and parallel session papers delivered by more than 300 presenters from 50 nations.

ILS President Graham Ford AO said, “We are pleased to confirm WHO co-sponsorship of World Conference on Drowning Prevention, especially given that we are days away from World Drowning Prevention Day. The 25 th July is a reminder to all that anyone can drown, but no-one should. WHO support for WCDP 2023 will be another opportunity to reflect on the WHO reported 266,000 people lost to drowning, each and every year, and on the efforts of many to address this in communities across the world”.

Co-convenor of the conference, CEO Royal Life Saving Society – Australia and International Life Saving Federation Drowning Prevention Commission chair Justin Scarr said co-sponsorship with the WHO raised the importance of the conference.

“The WHO co-sponsorship of World Conference on Drowning Prevention helps to ensure delegates have input into the medium-term growth of drowning prevention, including providing input into the question of how to maximise action in response to the United Nations and World Health Assembly resolutions.”

Representatives from the WHO headquarters in Geneva will attend the conference, as well experts from WHO Regional Offices including European Region, and coordinators of pivotal projects include WHO’s first ever Global Status Report on Drowning.

Co-convenor of the conference, CEO Surf Life Saving Australia and International Life Saving Federation Rescue Commission chair Adam Weir said the WHO co-sponsorship cemented the role of the conference in bringing together the science, policy, and practice for drowning prevention strategies.

“Past events have focused on non-fatal drowning, and survival swimming, and at WCDP 2023 we can expect to debate the development of systems for rescue and surveillance,” Mr Weir said.

The World Conference on Drowning Prevention is the International Life Saving Federation’s flagship educational event. The exchange, debate and development are designed to find ways to reduce death and injury in all aquatic environments worldwide.

Delegates are encouraged to book into a field trip or workshop prior to the event. WCDP2023 is being held in Perth, Western Australia from 4-7 December 2023. 


Limited spots available.