Veolia Water NA: GrowingBlue™ for a Water-Conscious Future
There is such a thing as too much information. More specifically, for many topics the internet is flush with information and much data. One can easily become overwhelmed, and, more frequently, not be able to drill into the data to focus on specific topics or relationships among information. Simply providing raw information is not always the most effective way to raise awareness and educate on a topic. And the topic of sustainable water management is no exception, as water is one subject where much information is readily available.
So why invest in providing yet another source of information? Veolia Water contends that notwithstanding the amount of available information, the story behind the nexus of water and growth is one that is not clearly told. This is surprising in that water is intricately tied to the future of societal growth, be it population or economic.
Urban, domestic, industrial and agricultural sectors worldwide are competing for increasingly limited water supplies, and communities are being forced to reconsider the future of their economic and population growth. Currently, 2.5 billion people (36 percent of the world’s population) live in water-stressed regions while more than 20 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product is already produced in risky, water-scarce areas. According to new data, almost half the world’s economy and 4.8 billion people – roughly half the world’s expected population – could be located in regions facing water limitations by 2050.
Water is one of the most critical factors in determining how and at what pace our world can support humanity’s continued growth. The economic implications of the absence of water are no less profound than the environmental or societal implications. Our local and global water challenges often stem from three factors: a lack of public awareness, the need for sound long-term planning and a sustainable approach to water resource management. We need to be able to examine water from all three of these perspectives while providing real intelligence on more effectively managing this uniquely vital resource. Only by changing today’s approach to water resource management and water productivity can we ensure a prosperous future. This path – one that is sustainable and “blue” – will help ensure a better world for the next generation.
To respond to this need by raising awareness and catalyzing dialogue, Veolia Water launched GrowingBlue™, http://growingblue.com/, a data-driven, web-based resource that is designed to help municipalities, businesses and consumers gain a better understanding of today’s and tomorrow’s global and local water challenges and best practices. GrowingBlue™ is focused on nature’s essential but often forgotten element – water – and uses a variety of tools, including animated maps, infographics and case studies, to provide a visually compelling, user-friendly representation of the current state of water in 180 countries.
The site also includes possible water availability scenarios in 2050 and the intrinsic link between water and economic prosperity, societal stability and environmental sustainability.
GrowingBlue™ consists of three primary sections:
- The Growing Blue™ Tool, http://growingblue.com/the-growing-blue-tool/ – A one-of-a-kind summary of the current state of water in 180 countries worldwide, as well as an initial focus on 50 U.S. states and major cities, which translates complex data gathered from a number of resources into a series of animated maps and benchmarks. Facts and figures accompanying each map provide analysis and rank the region’s water stress; municipal, agricultural and industrial water use; and condition of the current water delivery infrastructure. The information, including all data in its original spreadsheet format, is packaged into a PDF for water management officials and government leaders to download and use as a resource;
- 2050 Scenarios, http://growingblue.com/water-in-2050/ – Presents different economic, social and environmental scenarios that communities and companies worldwide could face in 2050 based on the implementation of sustainable water management practices versus “business as usual” approaches; and
- Implications of Growth, http://growingblue.com/implications-of-growth/ – A candid, data-driven assessment of water’s economic, environmental and social impact that includes real-world examples of the costs, trade-offs and potential solutions to a variety of water challenges.
In addition to visual representations of current and future states of water, GrowingBlue™ contains:
- Case studies from around the world addressing water challenges and potential solutions for mitigating risks;
- Updated news on water-related issues, as well as white papers and other resource materials; and
- Links to other leading water-focused websites.
Veolia Water was the main underwriter of the site, in collaboration with industry colleagues, scientists, academia and non-governmental organizations, such as Global Water Intelligence, Clean Water America Alliance, the International Food Policy Research Institute and others. Currently, a multi-sectoral group of leading organizations serves as the advisory panel to ensure GrowingBlue™ remains relevant and useful as an educational resource for decision makers and the public at-large.
“People often overlook the fact that water is an economic issue as well as an environmental one, and because we miss the economic dimension there is real danger that the environmental challenge will be much greater,” said Christopher Gasson, publisher of Global Water Intelligence.
Water advocates and thought leaders maintain that “GrowingBlue™ puts the economic importance of water center stage. And, by doing so, it makes the case for the kind of smart investment in infrastructure that is going to both protect the environment and support local economic improvements in the long term.”
They also comment that governments and other stakeholders have “allowed rivers to run dry, aquifers to become salty and networks to become leaky and unsafe, but still most people seem to see this as the inexorable process of environmental change. Hopefully, by focusing on the economic impact of the world’s failure to invest in water, all stakeholders can redefine the solutions to the crisis. Putting a price tag on our combined failure to act will help us mobilize for action.”
GrowingBlue™ was created to tell the important story of how water is as essential to our economic and social growth as it is to ensuring healthy ecosystems and our natural environment. The site is meant to serve as a resource for credible, accurate information on water aimed at increasing global awareness of our water challenges and the need for thoughtful solutions.