March 22 is World Water Day, an annual event that advocates global sustainable water management and raises awareness of the planet’s ever-increasing requirement for clean water.
Earlier this month, Blue & Green Tomorrow spoke to Peter Boonman, director of water and sanitation charity, Pump Aid, following the announcement that Millennium Development Goal on safe drinking water had been met five years early.
Whilst on the face of it positive news, the fact remains that 11% of the world – some 783 million people – still don’t have access to water, whilst a massive 2.5 billion lack basic sanitation.
We caught up again with Boonman, who explained the severity and urgency of the situation.
“The Earth is full of water, but only a very small part of it is drinkable”, he explains.
“The need for water is growing very fast, both through the growth in population and through industries. If you compare that with 100 or 200 years ago, we are using so much more water.
“The availability of water hasn’t increased, and I think added to that climate change is maybe even decreasing it.
“On a global scale, I think if you look at industries like mining, they use huge quantities of water, and the water that’s used for that is actually drinking water.”
The aim World Water Day is not only to highlight the problem, but also to seek a solution.
“World Water Day is about getting consumers engaged and interested, because the majority of people just absolutely take for granted that we’ve got access to clean, safe drinking water in many formats, whether it’s at home turning the tap on, sanitation facilities, or being able to just stretch out your arm to the nearest shop to buy a bottle”, says Karen Lynch, CEO of Belu, a company that sells environmentally-friendly bottled water.
“For us, we’re using today to raise awareness of the fact that it couldn’t be more different on the other side of the planet, and that Belu offers a chance for people to get involved.”
Duncan Goose, founder of The One Brand, also spoke to B>. He has seen first-hand the poor standard of living in developing nations, and highlighted the need for increased investment in water projects.
“Having just returned from Northern Kenya, which witnessed the worst drought in 60 years, impacting on 13 millio people and causing 100,000 deaths, I feel that the £1m we invested in clean water projects in the region last year was just scratching the surface of what’s required there”, he says.
“To see the impact of lack of water on communities, which has resulted in failed crops, goat herds decimated, massacres and babies surviving on medical aid, is tragic and a wakeup call for the world.
“With news coming in of a similar situation building across the Sahel region, how many lives must we see lost before governments intervene?
“Water is life. The implications of a lack of water are simply horrific.”
B> has profiled several ethical or sustainable funds in the past few months – many of which directly invest in technologies or companies that are actively battling to provide clean water for all.
One such fund is the Cheviot Climate Assets Fund, and Claudia Quiroz is its manager.
“Water is becoming scarcer and more polluted from animal and human waste, industrial processes and the use of pesticides and other chemicals”, she explains.
“From an investment point of view, that means that we at Cheviot focus on investing in companies providing solutions to the water scarcity and availability problem.
“For example, Geberit, a Switzerland based company, is a manufacturer of pipes, piping and flushing systems for the residential and commercial sectors.
“This company is well positioned to benefit from increasing adoption of water conservation technologies in both residential and commercial buildings as well as a cycle recovery in the housing and construction market.”
Boonman of Pump Aid echoed Quiroz’s sentiments, and began by quoting the 2010 Liberia Wash Consortium.
“Access to clean water and sanitation underpins community development”, he relays. “It’s estimated that for every pound spent on improving water and sanitation, at least nine pounds is made or saved on costs related to health, education and social and economic development.”
He expanded by listing just some of the huge advantages reaped from water investment – some of which were vital ingredients for life, but most of which we, in the Western world, take for granted.
“If you invest in water, you help health, you help economic development, you help women and girls, you help children access education and you help with food security. You help so many basic needs, that investment in clean water and sanitation becomes a no-brainer, a first necessity.”
It’s not just the Cheviot Climate Assets Fund that allows investors the chance to help fight the water battle. Other funds, such as the Skandia Ethical Fund, and the IM WHEB Sustainability Fund, also invest in such technologies and companies.
We can help you pick others – you just have to fill in our online form – or you can ask your IFA.
Picture sources: Arsenie Coseac and The One Brand.
How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life
Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense. But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?
For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out. A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession. This bigger issue was that of climate change. And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.
Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more. He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland. There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.
The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done. With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet. The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind. As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness. The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small. The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty. As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.
We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help. And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet. Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change. You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed. But so is he. Every change starts with one.
5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House
Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.
The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.
Pitch in for the kitchen
If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.
There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.
Add an attic or a basement bedroom
Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.
If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.
Transformation with paint
If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.
Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.
Secure with style
All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.
Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind
A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.
First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.
Spice up the landscaping
Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.
Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.
Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.
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