Today is World Water Day. To mark the occasion, I have three challenges for you...
1. Make a difference in the global clean water crisis. One in eight people -- almost one billion -- on our planet do not have access to safe water. Illnesses resulting from a lack of safe water kill more young children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. Tragically, the United Nations has reported that even more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war. This is one of the great tragedies and challenges of our time and it's something that our generation has the technology and resources to address. There are several outstanding and highly credible organizations that are making a measurable difference for communities throughout the world. I recommend NYC-based charity: water.
2. Manage your personal water footprint. Your water consumption goes far beyond the tap. We teamed up with the National Geographic Society to put together a simple and robust water calculator at NationalGeographic.com/water. It's amazing how easy and practical it is to cut your water footprint by 10 to 15-percent.
3. Get involved on your own waterfront. Every single one of us lives on the waterfront. Your waterfront may be the storm drain on your street, the creek in your backyard or the ocean that borders your town -- our relationship with water in all of its forms is critical to the health and well being of our families, our communities and our water planet. Taking care of this intergenerational community asset goes beyond what most think of as "environmentalism" and gets to the very heart of how we define healthy communities; how we manage the resources that create jobs and local economy; and how we build local capacity now for the challenges ahead.
My grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau was always baffled when people would ask him why he was such a vocal advocate for protecting water resources. He would usually begin his response with, "When you go and see..." and then paint the picture as only he could of the majesty and importance of the water place in question.
His advice still rings true today. I challenge you to explore your local waterfront. Take a walk along the creek or river in your city and ask yourself if it's the kind of place where you'd let your children swim. Stop for a moment the next time it rains and consider the water you see running off of your property or along a nearby street and ask yourself if you'd eat fish from the waters it drains to. Go and see the places where your drinking water is sourced.
Regardless of backgrounds or political philosophies, I believe we all want to live and raise our families in communities where our local water is safe enough for swimming, drinking and fishing. On this World Water Day, I challenge you to explore and get involved in your own waterfront.