Today is World Water Day. In the Caribbean, there are many areas that could use initiatives to promote local water projects to contribute in any way possible to the survival of humanity on this earth. The excerpts below show how Virgin (led by Sir Richard Branson) introduced a bottling scheme on Necker Island (in the British Virgin Islands) that saves 200,000 plastic bottles annually and is encouraging hotels and hospitality groups to filter and bottle their own water. With all the tourism ventures in the Caribbean, other companies should follow the lead and help local communities fight against water scarcity. With the recent drought problems on Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Barbados and many others in the past few years, we have all seen that this is a real threat. Today is a good day to reflect and take action. [Also see previous post CEDMA places several Caribbean countries on drought warnings.] Read excerpts from Branson’s message here:
Today is World Water Day – a good reminder to take some time to reflect on this vital natural resource, and the ways in which we are using it. We tend to think of fresh water as an abundant resource, but in reality this is not the case.
[. . .] If you take a closer look at the more arid regions of the globe, you quickly get a sense of just how precious water is and how dramatic the impacts of water scarcity can be. In fact, water scarcity has become a daily reality in many parts of the developing world, where supplies can’t meet the growing demand of expanding populations. The issue can be partially attributed to poor governance and inadequate water management, as well as a lack of delivery infrastructure. But increasingly, changing weather patterns as a result of climate change are exacerbating the problem and intensifying the stress on already limited water supplies.
The UN estimates that by 2025 1.8 billion people will be affected by water scarcity in some form – roughly 22 per cent of the projected world population. Already, 650 million people live without safe, clean water, and almost a third of the world’s population – around 2.3 billion people – don’t have access to adequate sanitation. WaterAid estimates that 900 children under five die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.
While the health impacts are devastating, the social and economic consequences of water scarcity are also immense. For instance, women across sub-Saharan Africa spend millions of hours every day collecting drinking water – time that could be spent running a business or getting an education. Lack of access translates directly into disempowerment on a massive scale. In some countries, expenditures for clean water can amount to far more than half of the average person’s income.
According to the UN, nearly 1.5 billion people worldwide work in water-related sectors and quite obviously nearly all jobs depend on access to clean water and sanitation. Too many people have come to take this for granted, don’t give it any thought, and keep wasting water at unsustainable levels. But, to many people, clean water means survival, livelihood and opportunity.
Thankfully, the Sustainable Development Goals adopted last September by global leaders have made water a priority, and seek to ensure universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2030. The optimist in me thinks that this is within reach if we all – governments, business and civil society – put our minds to it.
At Virgin, we’re proud to partner with and support WHOLE WORLD Water, a wonderful organisation that is helping hotels and hospitality groups filter and bottle their own water. A percentage of proceeds raised through the initiative goes to local water projects in communities that need help the most.
Virgin joined the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign in 2014 by introducing a bottling scheme on Necker Island that saves 200,000 plastic bottles annually. Following the success of the scheme we introduced similar initiatives in all of our Virgin Limited Edition properties, and aim to do the same at our new Virgin Hotels.
Before you turn that faucet, hop into the shower or wash a load of dirty laundry, remember these activities are privileges that a sizeable portion of the world’s population does not enjoy. It’s time we all help to change this.
[Photo above: from Water Aid; by Layton Thompson.]
For more information, see https://www.virgin.com/pooling-our-efforts-prevent-water-scarcity, http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday and http://www.wateraid.org/us