Blue Water Project
As pressure mounts on the world’s limited water resources, individuals, industries and governments will all have to start managing our shared water resources more efficiently. There is clearly a role for business in offering innovative solutions. As a financial services company, RBC is aware of its role in helping create an environment where new and innovative companies can succeed in addressing the world’s water challenges.
Launched in 2007, the RBC Blue Water Project is a 10-year global charitable commitment of $50 million to help provide access to drinkable, swimmable, fishable water, now and for future generations. The wide-ranging program is dedicated to protecting the world’s most precious natural resource: fresh water. It supports initiatives that help protect water in growing towns and cities, and also promotes responsible water use. Committed to reducing the intensity of our water footprint and encouraging the growth of water businesses, RBC has funded the following water projects implemented by SISC:
Water Wise Watch for the Dong River
Dong River is the direct source of water for industrial, domestic and ecological use by nearly 40 million people living in the Pearl River Delta including Hong Kong and a dozen other cities. In the current phase of rapid urbanization and industrialization, water shortages, floods and pollution are still grave concerns. There has been a significant rise in water consumption and unexpected levels of pollution due to population growth, increased farming, illegal mining, and other human factors. Large amounts of aquatic life have died in the process.
While the government is trying to tackle these issues individually, problems reoccur if people are not educated to change their minds and behaviors. The urban population’s awareness of water issues is low; few people take action to preserve water in their daily lives or understand the health issues.
The Water Wise Watch project targets the root of the issue within the local communities: Through increased awareness it is possible to reduce the public health risks caused by polluted water, and through participatory learning and action by schools and the broader community, a sense of environmental stewardship is fostered, leading to improved water quality. Based in Huizhou, this project will start a people’s movement for water to benefit those living in the watershed and in HK, and also benefit sustainable development and industrialization.
The Water Wise Watch project was implemented from September 2014 to June 2015. In a first step, representatives from 3 project schools took part in training workshops and developed a management plan. The students were introduced to local water issues through lessons and activities, such as testing
On RBC Blue Water Day, the students of each school then engaged locals to raise awareness, to save water, and to promote a sustainable development of scarce water resources. Furthermore, the students developed online information and visibility materials. The students were very dedicated to the project and welcomed this new form of involved learning, while the engaged locals reacted with interest and pride for their youth.
Youth Initiative for Beijing Water
Beijing is one of the world’s most water-scarce megacities. Due to its rapid development and growing population of over 20 million, Beijing faces a serious water crisis.
The Youth Initiative for Beijing Water project will partner with schools throughout Beijing to promote public participation in sustainable water resource management, engaging students and communities in a process of learning and action. Beijing’s central government has already devoted resources to this issue, however a challenge of this scale requires extensive public engagement.
This educational one-year project began in September 2015 and will see community-based river care activities carried out in 5 schools over the project year. The schools selected for this project will serve as demonstration sites for such engagement. Schools and communities will work together to carry out water education awareness activities, to which they will invite donors, students, community members, and media to see the results of the project. Further community initiatives will engage local stakeholders in a process of learning and action for sustainable water resource management in their local areas.
If schools and communities in Beijing work together to address the pressing issues of water pollution and scarcity, they can reduce the strain on Beijing’s watershed and help to restore the ecological integrity of the Hai river and other water sources.