Restore the connection with water, ourselves and each other

On 19th November 2019, an article I wrote was published in De Standaard / Fokus Water magazine.

This is a transcript of that article, translated into English from the original Dutch.

As the world cries out for more action against climate change and our CO2 emissions, our water footprint is just as important. Water is invisible to most in everything we eat, wear and use. It is in the cultivation of crops, the mining of metals, the dyeing of fabric and the production lines of phones. Without water, life as we know it ends.


Agricultural irrigation accounts for 70 per cent of water use worldwide. Meat and poultry are the most water-intensive food items, along with nuts. One kilo of beef requires an average of 15,000 litres of water. A pair of leather boots uses 14,500 litres of water, a smartphone 12,500 and a simple T-shirt nearly 4,000 litres. It is clear that this water does not come from your tap, but from countries such as India, China, Turkey and Bangladesh. It comes from the rivers and aquifers in some of the most water-scarce and poor regions in the world.

Look at the natural resource of water and its ecosystems in our oceans, lakes and rivers: we have eliminated 90 per cent of the big fish due to human behaviour. A third of the 78 million tons of plastic will end up in the ocean every year. The Rhine contributes a daily cargo of more than 191 million plastic particles to the North Sea. Those billions of plastic particles (microplastics) are taken up by organisms and return to our food chain, with negative effects on our health.

“Healing human potential is the most important heritage.”

Our industrial production and consumption system cannot continue this way, and we must radically change our habits. We are all responsible for contributing to a better planet and the future of our children. Action has already been taken by new generations of entrepreneurs who are creating a lot of innovation in the water sector. For example, the Ocean Cleanup project is developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. Full deployment of their systems is estimated to clear 50 per cent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within five years. Skipping Rocks Lab in London makes waste-free alternatives to plastic bottles, cups and plates. Watergen in Israel came up with a breakthrough solution that uses humidity to produce clean and fresh drinking water.

In our own Children First World “Protect Water” program, a six-year-old challenged our “How can we protect water?” assignment for a deeper cause: “People know that water is life. If they still pollute it, they may have forgotten to love themselves. How can we remind them of this?” Their proposals for solutions include meditation classes in schools and at home.

Maybe it’s time to reconnect with ourselves, remember that we are nature and that we are all children first. Maybe it’s all about loving ourselves. Listen to children, role-model good habits, and express your fresh, loving thoughts in words, conscious business models, and daily actions. After all, healing human potential and nurturing a healthy planet is the most important heritage that we can pass on to future generations.

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