Today is the 20th International World Water Day, established by the United Nations in 1993 to focus attention on sustainable management of fresh water resources. Among the messages being promoted this day is the fact that close to one in eight people worldwide will not be able to find or drink one glass of safe water, and twice as many will not have access to the use of toilet (a very real crisis that gets its own global day of awareness every November).
The global water crisis is so pressing that it made the agenda at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos as a new report ranked water among the top five global factors equal in impact to systemic financial failure and fiscal imbalance reports Forbes, and globally, 2.7 billion people are affected by water shortages, compounded by climate change, and a population nearing 8 billion.
The good news, from major brands and businesses to non-profits, is that increasing attention is being paid.
Coca-Cola includes water stewardship in its corporate goals, as explained in the company's fifth annual Global Water Stewardship and Replenish report released today. "The future of communities, nature and business depends on responsible water management," said Bea Perez, Coca-Cola's Chief Sustainability Officer. "To overcome today's water challenges, we must all take extraordinary action.”
PepsiCo addressed its ongoing commitment to water stewardship on its blog. PepsiCo is a partner, for instance, of Columbia Water Center, part of Columbia University's Earth Institute, which released a new video (above) for this year's World Water Day.
Whole Living Daily notes that “The average American household uses 350 gallons of water daily,” and “It takes 2900 gallons of water to make a single pair of blue jeans." That's a big part of the reason that Levi Strauss asked employees and store associates to reduce water consumption by wearing the same pair of jeans or khakis for five days (March 19-23) and the brand has supplied sponges attached to their Water<Less jeans which dissolve on washing to resist the temptation.
“It’s about conservation and sustainability. Washing less means using less water and energy. And this goes back to something we’ve been talking about for a while here—Care Tag for Our Planet,” says Michael Kobori, Levi's VP of Social and Environmental Sustainability.
At the end of this week, Levi’s will choose three ‘most stylish’ employees and contribute $1000 to the water charity of their choice. Consumers are invited to take part by uploading a picture of themselves in the same jeans for five days using hashtag #gowaterless on Instagram.
P&G has been promoting its children's safe drinking water programming, aiming for one million Facebook 'likes' to help spread the message, outlined in the video above.
Matt Damon and Gary White of Waterday.org are asking people to “donate your voice.” “By donating your Facebook or Twitter credentials, Water.org will automatically post a fact to your account and invite your friends and followers to join you. Each day, through March 24 only, your community will automatically receive a fact or story, shared by you. This is your chance to use your platform for good and help lead the way to solving the global clean water crisis.”
Water conservation NGO, FLOW (For the Love of Water) is urging 10 000 Twitter users to #CloseTheTap using only tweets. The dedicated website live streams a running tap as symbol of daily water wastage. The tap, connected to Twitter closes with water saving tweets carrying the #CloseTheTap hashtag.
GE, Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg have partnered on the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct project to gather global water data more efficiently and the UN’s CEO Water Mandate, is supported by HCC, Coca-Cola, PWC, Levis Strauss and PepsiCo, Molson Coors Brewing Company, Unilever UK and Nestle S.A., Switzerland.
The World Resources Institute also partnered with Google Earth to show the planet's reefs at risk (Google Street View also offered a virtual visit to the Amazon for World Forest Day yesterday):
Charity: Water is also asking people to donate their birthdays to the cause, as explained in the videos below: