Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Water world

Well before this blog began, I went on a conservation trip to Antarctica. It’s amazing to think that the Antarctic ice sheet contains around three quarters of all fresh water on Earth. We earthlings are mostly water, and our global supply of this life-giving wonder is under pressure. Over a billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and factors like rising population, falling aquifers, plastic pollution, poor infrastructure, and water wars in arid regions are heating up the water debates. I was in Europe recently discussing the issues with diverse stakeholders in water, and there’s a quickening consensus that the long view is the only view. Whatever your take on it or stake in it, it’s clear we need to re-frame our entire approach to water.

Assuming governments can get water policies right (a big assumption), all of us are still going to have to work together on this. Ideas are the key. Simple, irresistible ideas like the Dave Droga-inspired Tap Project, where restaurant-goers donate one dollar each time they order free tap water. The funds go to UNICEF’s water and sanitation programs. The Lifestraw, a portable drinking filtration system worn around the neck which won the fifth Saatchi & Saatchi Award for World Changing Ideas, is in this same revolutionary space. Thousands of children die daily from unsafe drinking water, and this super straw only sucks up the good stuff. There’s a lot to do at international, national, local, and personal levels. Water connects all of us and we are all going to have to start connecting with water.

An old P&G colleague of mine, John O’Keefe who is principal and Founder of a creative thinking consultancy recently wowed the P&G alumni in Rome with some radical truths and big ideas on water. He’s now looking for like minded folk to join him on the quest.