In 1993, the United Nations created World Water Day to raise awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. The theme of this year’s World Water Day is accelerating change.
Why is this year’s theme so important? The harmful effects of climate change are wide-reaching, affecting our most vital resources. Water is no exception. Weather events, like drought, are getting worse, which puts the freshwater sources that we need to survive at risk.
With climate change accelerating issues of water scarcity, we must pick up the pace, too. This year’s theme invites us to do just that—to find ways to make a greater impact, save water, and envision a brighter future for all.
That’s where our Water Heros come in. These climate activists are accelerating change, raising awareness, and manifesting a world where everyone has access to clean, healthy water. Check out this list of water advocates to get inspired and find ways to incorporate conservation into your daily life.
Autumn Peltier, Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation
From a very young age, water activist Autumn Peltier understood the importance of water and the need to protect it. At age 8, she was attending water ceremonies on First Nation reserves. At 13, she addressed world leaders at the UN General Assembly on the issue of water protection, and by 14, she was named the Chief Water Commissioner by the Anishinabek Nation, an organization that advocates for the 39 First Nations in Ontario, Canada. Through social media, community activism, and legislative advocacy, Peltier is helping audiences of all ages learn about water inequality—and advocating for the water rights of Indigenous communities in Canada.
Scott Harrison, Founder of charity: water
The path to becoming a water protector and advocate is different for everyone—and Scott Harrison is no exception. In search of purpose, Scott, a former New York City nightclub promoter, spent 2 years working on a hospital ship in Liberia. The experience was life-changing, but one thing stuck with him more than anything else: the effects of dirty drinking water, from water-borne diseases to dehydration.
When he returned to New York in 2006, he founded charity: water, a nonprofit that helps bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. Today, with the help of more than 1 million supporters worldwide, they have raised over 496 million dollars, funding over 111,796 water projects in 29 countries.
Boyan Slat, Founder of The Ocean Cleanup
Being a water advocate isn’t just about drinking water. It’s about protecting natural water sources too, like our oceans. Not only are these bodies of water sources of food for billions of people—they’re home to an estimated 230 million marine species, many of which aren’t even classified yet.
One of the biggest problems facing our oceans is plastic pollution. Every year, 14 million tons of plastic enter the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine life. Somebody had to do something—and that someone was 18-year-old Boyan Slat, the Dutch inventor and founder of the nonprofit The Ocean Cleanup. This nonprofit develops advanced technologies—like this solar-powered trash-collecting barge—with the goal of reducing ocean plastic by 90 percent worldwide.
Jaden Smith and Drew FitzGerald, Cofounders of 501CTHREE
You may know more about Jaden Smith’s music than his water advocacy. But through the nonprofit, 501CTHREE, he and cofounder, Drew FitzGerald, have done plenty to get clean drinking water to people in need.
Best known for developing “the Water Box,” a mobile water treatment system, 501CTHREE has been instrumental in helping provide a sustainable source of clean water in places like Flint, Michigan, and Jackson, Mississippi. In addition to water advocacy, the group aims to find eco-friendly solutions to solve the full spectrum of resource scarcity, including energy, food, and shelter.
Doing our part to end water scarcity
In addition to spotlighting these water advocates, we’re helping protect water resources through the development of water-saving showerheads, our membership with 1% for the Planet, and by volunteering with environmental nonprofits, like Surfrider Foundation. Follow us on Instagram to learn more about our water conservation efforts.