Protect, save, preserve, keep clean, don’t waste – Water!

4 min read
WaterAid intervention in partnership with HSBC
Image: WaterAid/ Sharbendu De

From January to June we participate in a series of dedicated events focused on Environment. 

World Wetland Day, World Water Day, Earth Hour, World Environment Day, World Ocean’s Day, World Food Day, Clean Up the World, International Coastal Clean-Up Day. It sounds like we wrap it up during the first half of the year leading to World Environment Day!

If you really look at the focus areas, there is a strong link in each of them relating to water. The theme this year is ‘It’s Time for Nature | Bio-Diversity #ForNATURE’. There is the conscious element that asks us to protect, save, preserve, keep clean, don’t waste – water!

On 22 May 2013, the International Day for Biological Diversity was celebrated by UNESCO around the theme of Water & Biodiversity. A very strong statement – “water is essential for life. No living being on planet Earth can survive without it. It is the prerequisite for human health and wellbeing as well as for the preservation of the environment” sums the importance of water. Biodiversity involves 8 million plant and animal species in our ecosystem. It is the foundation that supports all life on land and in water.

To preserve our bio-diversity, water is required in all forms. We, the human species on this planet consume the most amount of water in various forms, for domestic and industrial use. The Worldometer publishes the “Global Water Use” and it shows the astronomical amount of water withdrawal every year. The consumption is mind-blowing. We know the facts – 2.5% of the water on Earth is only freshwater out of which 1% of water supply is in the form of lakes, rivers, and groundwater! So one would imagine where the source of such consumption is coming from and how sustainable is this for the years to come!

The COVID-19 pandemic has added one more layer to the consumption of water. Is it a blessing or a curse? At the cost of water?  It now forcefully gets everyone to wash their hands thoroughly with water for better hygiene and safety of lives. But the question is inevitable; availability of water or access to clean water to wash hands more frequently (i.e. 25.2 liters (on an average - 12 times per day). As per (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Report 2019) 785 million people don’t have clean water close to home. i.e. around 1 in 10 people. And 3 billion people don’t have handwashing facilities at home. (Source: 

On the International Day for   Biodiversity (May 22) the focus was Our Solutions are in nature. Focus on biodiversity further extends during World Environment Day.

 A simple but committed and convinced action has brought change to the biodiversity of famine-stricken village of   Dali, Indonesia.  A video posted on 28   December 2017, that I was fortunate to see on 03 June’20. It is a story of how a farmer was called ‘crazy’ for planting ‘useless seeds’ but 20 years later, the world sees the result and calls him a hero instead. There are many stories like this where conservation of water is required and individuals have made an impact to revive groundwater, and what’s more important is, the long-term sustainable results that have helped communities to thrive. (Source: Click here.

As we celebrate Environment Day, finding solutions within our very own nature begins with you. It is a recall factor of what actions we are going to take this year. To be ambassadors of change and create awareness in the community. To rethink of simple ways and finding solutions to conserve and regenerate sources of water. To manage our supply, we need to rethink our demands for water consumption more wisely and efficiently. 

About the Author

Michael Raj is Vice President, Corporate Sustainability for HSBC Global Services in India. He works extensively with various stakeholders, NGO partners, communities, beneficiaries, and industry bodies.

The article was written on the occasion of World Environment day 2020.