Because of the importance of water in sustaining life, the increasing demand for it as a result of global population growth, as well as the rate at which pollution and consumption is making useable water scarcer, it is more important than ever to find ways to conserve water. Conserving water not only helps all of us ensure a sustainable supply of drinking water for now, it helps ensure that our children and grandchildren will have access to the water they will need to survive.
Thankfully, there are many government, non-profit, and even business organizations all over the world that are working to raise awareness about this critical issue. Today, we honor a few of these entities by making a list of organizations that have made significant contributions to water conservation efforts: whether by raising awareness, creating new standards for water efficiency, or making sizeable cuts to their own water use.
While we wish we could recognize every organization that has made a contribution to water conservation efforts, there are far too many noteworthy organizations to fit into one blog post. So, here is our list of top organizations worthy of respect for their efforts to address the world’s water issues:
Focused on bringing clean water to the “663 million people on the planet who don’t have clean water,” charity: water invites visitors to their website to follow them on their daily journey. Carry 80 pounds of water in yellow fuel cans. Dig with their children in sand for water. Line up at a well and wait eight hours for a turn
charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations
Rather than simply taking donations, Charity: Water gets people to start their own campaigns to raise money for clean water. The organization’s website walks you through a simple process of picking an activity and creating a page, promoting your campaign for clean water, and monitoring your donated funds after the fact.
By getting people involved and thinking about how to make a difference, charity: water is doing more than just providing clean water to those in need, they are helping to change the way people think about water and not take this precious resource for granted.
Clean Water Fund
From its beginnings in 1974, the Clean Water Fund has worked to promote advocacy of clean, safe water and air, as well as a reduction in pollution in the home, community, and the workplace. The Fund’s programs are designed to “build on and complement those of Clean Water Action… which has helped develop, pass, strengthen and defend the [American] nation’s major water and toxics laws such as the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Superfund and others.”
Global Water Challenge
The Global Water Challenge, or GWC, is a group that “connect organizations across sectors to solve our world’s most pressing water challenges through access to sustainable clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).” This organization works to educate others about how to engage in sustainability programs that last to increase the success rate of WASH projects.
GWC was instrumental to the establishment of the SustainableWASH.org site, coordinating with several other water sustainability awareness groups to help create a hub for people to discuss sustainable water initiatives.
Global Water Leaders
Where many of the other organizations on this list deal primarily with helping individual communities access clean water, Global Water Leaders is focused on producing results by collaborating with the owners/CEOs of water utility companies and other agencies. Through educating these businesses and getting them to think from a global perspective, Global Water Leaders is helping to create change in the way that water is managed.
While not the only company to enact water-conservation efforts (their direct competitor, Coca Cola, has made similar efforts), PepsiCo has managed to make significant reductions in their water consumption in an industry that is absolutely reliant upon water resources. PepsiCo’s conservation efforts earned them a Stockholm Industry Water Prize in 2012.
Access to safe water is at the heart of PepsiCo's global water strategy, in which we aim to enable long-term, sustainable water security for our business and others who depend on water availability. The company has invested more than $40 million in safe water access solutions with strategic partners as part of its goal to support a total of 25 million people with safe water access by 2025.
The International Water Management Institute, Sri Lanka
A Laureate of the Stockholm water prize, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) headquartered in Sri Lanka has worked tirelessly to produce research to give the rest of the world a useable knowledge base from which to understand water availability.
Research such as IWMI’s “Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture” is invaluable in helping others create actionable plans for water conservation efforts in various regions of the world. On top of this, IWMI leads efforts to conserve water, including pushing for urban agricultural practices.
As both a contributor to research and the implementation of water-conserving methods, IWMI is definitely noteworthy as helping address the world’s water issues.
The Nature Conservancy
One of the largest environmental organizations in North America, the Nature Conservancy is dedicated to protecting both land and water resources for the good of people and nature. With more than a million members, the Nature Conservancy is actively “protecting rivers, lakes and natural lands in 30 countries and all 50 states.”
By protecting these natural resources, the Nature Conservancy is helping ensure that they will be there for future generations, earning them a place on this list.
The Stockholm International Water Institute
Founded in 1991, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI, for short) is a policy institute centered in Stockholm, Sweden that performs research, helps build institutional capacity, and provides advisory services regarding water resources.
Each year, SIWI holds a “World Water Week in Stockholm” event, where they award prizes to organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to water conservation. These awards include the:
- Stockholm Water Prize.
- Stockholm Junior Water Prize.
- Stockholm Industry Water Prize.
By working to help guide policy and educate others, as well as working to recognize the efforts of others, SIWI has more than earned a place on this list.
The United Nations (UN-Water)
UN-Water coordinates the efforts of United Nations entities and international organizations working on water and sanitation issues. Over 30 UN organizations carry out water and sanitation programmes, reflecting the fact that water issues run through all of the UN’s main focus areas. UN-Water’s role is to coordinate so that the UN family ‘delivers as one’ in response to water related challenges.
One of UN-Water’s key objectives is to provide coherent and reliable data and information on key water trends and management issues. During past decades, several initiatives, mechanisms and programmes, both within and outside the United Nations family, have been collecting information on the various components of the water cycle. On World Water Day, UN-Water releases the World Water Development Report focusing on the same topic as the campaign.
The Water Project
The Water Project is an organization that is helping communities in sub-Saharan Africa gain access to clean drinking water. By helping communities to dig wells, dams, build rain-catching equipment, filter surface water, and improve sanitation & hygiene practices, the Water Project helps to improve the quality of life for these communities.
The World Bank
As the world’s largest multilateral source of financing for water in developing countries, the World Bank is working closely with partners to achieve “A Water-Secure World for All,” by investing in water solutions that enable universal access, promote water security, and build resilient societies.
The World Bank’s water portfolio currently covers 170 projects worth US$26.7 billion in lending and technical expertise. Around 70% of lending is for services such as water supply and sanitation and irrigation projects. In addition, projects with a water sector-related component managed by other global practices of the World Bank total approximately $10 billion, meaning the Bank’s total water-related investments are $37 billion.
While money alone won’t solve the problem, contributions from the World Bank can help provide vital infrastructure for communities to give them access to clean, safe drinking water. For this reason, the World Bank makes the list for top organizations addressing the world’s water issues.
World Resources Institute
The World Resources Institute (WRI) works to protect the climate, establish clean power systems, reduce the impact of food industries on the environment, prevent deforestation, create a water-secure future, and improve quality of life in cities.
While they work on a variety of environmental and humanitarian issues, their work on creating water risk maps will help others better plan water conservation and distribution efforts to minimize water shortages in the future.
World Water Council
Established in 1996, the World Water Council is an international organization that works to “promote awareness, build political commitment and trigger action on critical water issues… to facilitate the efficient conservation, protection, development, planning, management and use of water.”
To this end, the Council has helped facilitate numerous dialogues on the subject of water conservation amongst nations, such as the “Water for Food and Environment” and the “Water and Climate” dialogues. By raising awareness and pushing governments to act on water conservation issues, the World Water Council is a major force behind water conservation efforts.
World Wildlife Fund
When you think of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), water conservancy might not be your first thought. However as an extension of their efforts to preserve wildlife and animal habitats, the WWF works extensively to promote water conservation efforts.
As a part of their efforts to protect and conserve water resources, the WWF works with multiple governments who share freshwater resources and protects river sources to keep clean water available to as many people as possible without damaging water sources.
Water.org is a non-profit organization that operates in several different regions of the world, including Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia. This group operates by securing funding for local water projects and working with local partners in each region rather than tying themselves to any one partner organization, helping them stay flexible and cost-effective.
One of Water.org’s central tenets is the concept of community ownership of any water project(s). As they state on their website, “for a project to be truly successful, communities must be viewed and must view themselves as the owners of the project.” To this end, Water.org strives to make sure that the communities involved are engaged at every level of their respective projects from planning all the way to financing and maintenance.
As we mentioned earlier, there are many organizations out there who are deserving of mention for their efforts to address the world’s water issues. While we can’t cover them all here, even in brief as we have done for the ones in this list, it is our hope that these examples will inspire you to find ways to conserve water in your own home or business.