“Water is Life 2014/2015” – An international poster competition for students

Art and Trade

The ZVSHK, the German Sanitation, Heating and Air Conditioning Association, is launching the second international “Water is Life” poster design competition this September. In its role as the largest German trade organisation in the sector, representing over 50,000 contractors in Germany, the ZVSHK initiated the competition with the aim of promoting awareness of a fundamental formula of human existence: Water is Life.

Not oil, not gas and not gold will determine the political, economic and social development of nations around the world in the future, but access to a constant supply of clean water.

In Germany, the sanitation, heating and air conditioning branch works to ensure the safe provision and consistently high quality of water and sanitation. The high standard of drinking water hygiene in Germany testifies to the proven quality of national water supply and purification technology. For the ZVSHK, this is the motivation for initiating the poster competition. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is a basic human right that applies for everyone, regardless of where they live in the world. This is what the ZVSHK wishes to promote through its student poster competition.


The competition is open to all students of art, design, graphic and communication design and architecture. Through the competition, the ZVHSK hopes to stimulate a wide range of artistic responses to the topic of “Water is Life”.

Students from all continents of the world are encouraged to make a creative statement supporting a responsible approach to managing water. The best 100 poster entries will be presented in a travelling exhibition that will be shown around the world in 2015. The “Water is Life” exhibition starts on World Water Day, the 22 March 2015, in Berlin, with the announcement of the winners of the competition.


The ZVSHK is especially pleased that the German Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr. Gerd Müller, will act as patron of the competition. The ZVSHK has also succeeded in enlisting the support of the GIZ, the German Society for International Cooperation, an organisation whose international scale underlines the global relevance of the competition topic. In addition, UN Water – the United Nations inter-agency mechanism on all freshwater-related issues including sanitation – is joining the competition as the official advertising partner.

The German Sanitation, Heating and Air Conditioning Association (ZVSHK) and its competition partners invite you take part in the competition with your own personal poster design. Become part of an international art movement dedicated to ensuring and maintaining the ongoing clean supply of the most important source of sustenance for mankind.

Under the patronage of

Water is life

We recommended that you conduct thorough research, as the topic is wide-ranging in scope, touching not just on biological aspects of life but also on political and economic issues.

Water is a human right

Water is source of sustenance, a means of transport, a source of energy, the backbone of ecosystems, and an essential economic and cultural good. It is also not as plentiful as it may seem.

People cannot live without water

“Around two thirds of our bodies consist of water; some 75% of our brain is made up of water,” explains Bolivia’s UN Ambassador, Pablo Solón. “Water is the principal vehicle for the electrochemical transmissions of our body and helps to regulate the temperature of our body. It is possible to survive for several weeks without food, but it is not possible to survive more than a few days without water.” Nevertheless, millions of people have to survive everyday without clean water.

“Diarrhoea is the second largest cause of death among children. Lack of access to potable water kills more people than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.” Speaking in front of the UN General Assembly, Solón paused for a moment: “That was just three and a half seconds. Every three and a half seconds a child dies because it does not have clean water.”

According to the OECD, the ongoing growth of populations, urbanisation, globalisation and economic growth will lead to a 55% increase in the demand for water by 2050. By that time 2.3 billion people will not have adequate access to water, in particular in Africa and Central Asia. The United Nations University Declaration on Human Rights affirms the right to safe and clean drinking water – a right that is, however, not binding under international law.

Despite major advances in the past decades, 780 million people still have inadequate access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation facilities. It is not utopian to aim to provide everyone with safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.

To this end, we need competent and committed action from person to person in order to make water resources and a humane access to drinking water accessible to everyone.