World Water Day Highlights Japan’s Ongoing Challenge


Today is World Water Day — an international observance that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Each year, the theme changes; this year, it’s “Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge.”

The fact that this year’s World Water Day comes on the heels of the devastating Japanese earthquake, tsunami and radiation threat just calls all the more attention to the importance of water as a precious natural resource.

Even as Japan struggles to distribute clean water, food, and other vitally needed items, it is remarkable to think that Haiti continues to have its own post-earthquake issues with clean water, as indicated in Dow’s World Water Day campaign.

The reality is clean water is becoming more of an issue for the world’s people, and big brand marketers like Dow and Procter & Gamble (P&G) are stepping up to call attention to the issue and to help.[more]

P&G, in fact, has run the Children’s Safe Drinking Water program since 2004. Now involving over 100 partner organizations, the program has been working to combat the clean water crisis with PUR packets, a not-for-profit water purifying technology developed by P&G and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In minutes, one small P&G PUR packet can turn 10 liters of dirty, potentially deadly water into clean, drinkable water. Last October, we reported on P&G’s blogger focused “Give Health Clean Water Blogivation” that focused bloggers’ attention on making clean water available for developing countries and disaster relief.

P&G will also be participating in the upcoming Global Sustainability Summit in Brazil, where it will be donating 1,000 liters of water for each and every participant in this global summit. The company is also announcing at the summit its plans to start a Children’s Safe Drinking Water program in Brazil.

Interestingly, while the PUR packets are useful in helping the Japanese people as well, it is other products that P&G can provide that are even more desperately needed right now. Among the brands giving generously to support the recovery of Japan, P&G has pledged more than $1.2 million in cash, product and employee donations, following scores of companies making donations to disaster-struck victims.

P&G operations in Japan were directly affected by the disaster, but that’s not stopping its employees there from reaching out to their fellow citizens. P&G employees in Japan are sending notes of encouragement to consumers on the boxes of Pampers and Always (called Whisper in Japan) that are being sent to the northeast of the country.

As for other brands, there are ongoing year-round efforts — reducing packaging, for instance — to conserve water and inspire by example.

As we noted in January, Levi’s Water<Less Jeans line is a great example of sustainability in action. For this year’s World Water Day, Levi’s has released a “watertank” app on its Facebook page to highlight the global water crisis:

Teva unveiled a pro-social initiative called ‘Pair for a Foot.’ The program will help protect one linear foot of global waterways for every pair of Teva shoes and sandals sold in 2011 through donations to clean water non-profits including the Ocean Conservancy and long-time partner Waterkeeper Alliance.

Teva estimates ‘Pair for a Foot’ will help preserve 4.3 million feet of waterways in 2011:

Representatives from Asia Pacific Nalco and Asia Pulp & Paper Group announced a partnership to embark on a two-year research and development program to reduce APP’s water footprint across all aspects of its Indonesia and China operations. APP and Nalco will also work together to create programs to provide healthier clean water to local Indonesian communities.

The United Nations and NGOs naturally deal with water safety issues every day — here are a few spots pegged to World Water Day:

And here’s a message from UN Deputy Secretary-General, Asha-Rose Migiro: