It's World Water Day 2007 (March 22), an annual, international day of recognition of the world's most precious resource, established by the UN after the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The theme this year is "Coping with Water Scarcity." In the last few weeks we've gotten numerous emails about various events, projects and resources related to this occasion. Here's a round-up of some of the ones we know about. Feel free to add others in the comments.
What it is: The Environmental Working Group is building a database of labels from bottled water in order to assess the safety of various brands. It's an interactive online research project that asks participants to answer a short series of questions about their bottle. They hope the results will aid consumers in knowing what they're paying for.
What it is: S.W.I.M. is a New York coalition working to restore New York's waters to swimmable conditions by managing storm water runoff responsibly and sustainably. They are having their kick-off event on World Water Day, asking Mayor Bloomberg to manage stormwater better and prevent sewage and pollution from entering New York's rivers and reservoirs. See more info in this op-ed from the NY Times.
What it is: WaterPartners International is a U.S.-based non-profit that provides safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries. Its WaterCredit Initiative applies principals of microfinance to the water and sanitation sector, making small loans to individuals and communities in developing countries who do not have access to traditional credit markets.
What it is: You may remember our previous coverage of the PlayPump -- an invention borne of sheer genius which harnesses the energy of children playing to pump water for rural villages. Recently PlayPumps International launched a new campaign, 100 Pumps in 100 Days, which aims to raise enough money for 100 pumps between March 22 and June 29. Each complete pump costs $14,000. This effort will help them inch closer to their goal of installing 4,000 pumps in sub-Saharan Africa by 2010.
What it is: A call for proposals to The Great Lakes Protection Fund for "projects that design and test new ways to measure the health of the basin ecosystem and the effectiveness of actions undertaken to make it healthier. Projects should create the tools that integrate healthy ecosystem outcomes and impacts into everyday, real world decisions." The Great Lakes Protection Fund has a big chunk of money to give away to the best innovators they can find. This is an opportunity for truly new strategies that can, in the words of one grant awarder, "change the proverbial ecosystem restoration game."
What it is: At New York's Cooper Union, according to Forbes, "GE will host an open panel discussion to explore the increasing economic, social and technological impact water scarcity presents and the growing role industry, sustainable design and technology play in helping solve this global crisis. Panel topics include: how today and tomorrow's generation can make a difference in increasing access to fresh usable water; sustainable growth practices and designs; global trends affecting the world's water supplies; and social, economic and technological challenges of water scarcity."
Walk for Water -- real or virtual
What it is: Across the US on March 22 and 24, a number of cities will be organizing community walks in honor of World Water Day. "The Walk for Water is inspired by the example of women in water stressed countries who often walk 6 miles each day just to get water for their family." If you can't participate with your feet, you can participate with your keyboard by joining the "Virtual Walk for Water" and submitting your name for inclusion on a symbolic water jug to be carried by a participant at a local event.
What it is: A resource put out by the UN's Water for Life Decade for Action Campaign, which runs from 2005-2015 in an effort to promote the fulfillment of international commitments by 2015 towards addressing global water issues. "These commitments include the Millennium Development Goals to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015 and to stop unsustainable exploitation of water resources. At the World Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, two other goals were adopted: to aim to develop integrated water resource management and water efficiency plans by 2005 and to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people who do not have access to basic sanitation."
What have we missed? Tell us what you are doing for World Water Day.
Creative Commons Photo Credit
Earth 911 offers a great reference with ideas on things you can do to conserve water.
I have just returned form Africa where I helped set up RainCatchers on school buildings in western Kenya. In many places where people are suffering from the consequences of contaminated drinking water, there is an abundance of water that falls out of the sky.The scarcity isn't in the water given, but in the water received. My approach is to simply put a bucket under a rain storm. Story and photos on raincatcher.org.
Please see my website for more ideas and ways to change the world!.The least we can do is increase awareness and hope in the world.For my part I actually support a cause called SOS Children's Village in Bangalore,India and yes I try to spread information.