World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2011
Building a global platform to reduce drowning
Building a global platform to reduce drowning

Several events provided the initial inspiration for Royal Life Saving Society – Australia to host the World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2011. Not least of these was the emerging data revealed at the World Water Safety Conference in Portugal in 2007 that showed 96 percent of drowning occurs in low and middle income countries (LMICs)—mostly in Asia—and mostly through everyday life, not recreation.

During that conference and in the months that followed, it became increasingly clear to RLSSA that the international drowning community would greatly benefit from the next ILS conference being held in a low and middle income setting. Vietnam was chosen under the guidance of conference partner The Alliance for Safe Children (TASC) as located within a region where the drowning burden is perhaps greatest; and it would offer conference delegates an provide an opportunity to experience firsthand, the challenges of preventing drowning in this context.

The Australian Government, who rarely sponsor conferences, were attracted by the opportunity to highlight the drowning burden in Asia, foster emerging research, and support Vietnamese and Australian collaboration and leadership.

Of particular importance was the role of the Government of Vietnam through the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) and its Administration for Child Care and Protection. With leadership and support from UN agencies UNICEF and WHO Vietnam, MoLISA supported the WCDP2011 and continues to lead the Government’s Inter-ministerial Plan for Child Drowning Prevention.

The conference was supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and presented by the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia in collaboration with The Alliance for Safe Children (TASC).

The conference was opened by Her Excellency Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia who also visited one of SwimSafe Danang’s projects the following day. Her Excellency’s presence in Vietnam fostered significant goodwill between Australia and Vietnam, drawing a great deal of media coverage and consequently raising the issue drowning in LMICs.

The 435 delegates, who represented 52 countries, used the conference to develop a Global Platform to Reduce Drowning—a significant conference legacy—that will offer guidance to governments, NGOs and the lifesaving and aquatic industries sector, highlight areas for needed research, and form the basis of collaboration, as various agencies, organisations and individuals move towards a world free from drowning.

It was important for an international conference that championed drowning prevention in low and middle income countries to hear from individuals and organisations from those countries. Thus the Developing Countries Scholarship Fund was created to enable the attendance and participation of delegates from LMICs who would not normally be in a position to attend such a conference.

Contributions to the fund assisted in areas such as subsidising registration, travel and accommodation.

Contributions for the fund were received from the International Seminar Support Scheme (AusAID), the Australia–Malaysia Institute (AMI), the Council for Australia–Arab Relations, and Royal Life Saving Society – Australia. Forty-seven delegates were recipients of the Developing Countries Scholarship Fund, their presence adding diversity and a genuine perspective to the conference program.

10 Year Anniversary Webinar

Celebrating 10 year since WCDP2011 in Da Nang, this webinar hosted on Thursday 13 May 2021 reflected on the event, and where the issue of drowning prevention is today.

The webinar featured discussion about the historic first United Nations Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention. With guest speakers including:

  • Dr David Meddings FRCP(C), MHSc, Department of the Social Determinants of Health, World Health Organization
  • Gemma May, International Advocacy Manager, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, UK.
  • MPH. Doan Thi Thu Huyen, Country Director, Vietnam , Global Health Advocacy Incubator
  • Dr Aminur Rahman, CIPRB - Bangladesh
  • Ambassador Pete Peterson, TASC

Conference Declaration

The WCDP 2011 declaration represents a single milestone in our long held and shared ambition of a world free from drowning.

1. Framing the need for a Global Platform to Reduce Drowning
2. Guiding themes of a Global Platform to Reduce Drowning
3. The Framework for a Global Platform to Reduce Drowning
4. The Call to Action for a World Free from Drowning

The conference declaration calls to action international agencies, governments, national and sub-national, non-government organisations, research centres, donors and corporates. It encourages all those with an interest and dedication to reducing the burden of drowning in the regions, nations, provinces and communities of the world to dedicate their time and energy to collaboration.

Program and Proceedings

Includes the Program Snapshot and Abstracts including:

  • Vietnam in focus
  • Drowning in Low and Middle Income Countries
  • Drowning Reseach
  • Child Drowning
  • Emergency Response and Medical Issues
  • Advances in Lifesaving
  • Swimming and Water Safety
  • Partnerships and Programs
  • Activities and Occupations
  • Disasters and Climate Change
  • Lifesaving Sport and Development.