Press Release: New Design Challenge Empowers and Informs Responses to Global Water Crises

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Circle of Blue — in collaboration with leading institutions, designers, educators, and youth organizations — today announced Designing Water’s Future, an unprecedented global challenge to develop creative, cross-disciplinary, and participatory stories and solutions for water crises worldwide.

  • Creative design and innovative communications
  • Citizen science
  • Applied data analyses and visualization 
  • AI-powered connectivity

Designing Water’s Future, will leverage the power of creative design and communications, citizen science, frontier data analysis, visualization tools, and Artificial Intelligence-powered analysis to advance responses and solutions. Circle of Blue – the award-winning journalism, science and convening organization that reports on the global competition between water, food, and energy in a changing climate – announced the initiative at the Sustainable Brands conference in Detroit and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in The Hague.

The World Economic Forum ranks water crises among the gravest risks to political, environmental, and economic stability.

“Time has run out and we no longer have any margin of error. We must unite the best in creativity, technology, and story-telling to shift the world’s most dangerous course,” said J. Carl Ganter, managing director of Circle of Blue and past vice chairman of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Water Security.

Conflicts over water are increasing around the world while debilitating droughts, catastrophic floods and other risks pose imminent threats to lives, livelihoods, and businesses. Yet imperatives such as the Sustainable Development Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation are underfunded, global water stories of success and failure remain underreported, data is often lacking, unverified or remains unshared, and people are out of touch with where their water comes from and where their wastewater goes.

“Many organizations are working tirelessly on promising solutions, but the scale and urgency of water challenges outpace current efforts and resources,” Ganter said.

The specific challenges will be active this summer and previewed at World Water Week in August:

  1. Narrative challenge. Students from universities from Beijing to Boston take on “water as a client” using array of design, storytelling, and communications tools.
  2. Grassroots stories and citizen science. Crowd-sourcing projects on “#MyWaterStory,” “#MyWaterScience,” and “#MyWaterSolutions
  3. Visualization hackathon. Transforming water data into compelling visualizations.
  4. Collaboration. Accumulating resources and connections.

“The only hope for water’s future is the one we deliberately design,” Ganter said. “This is the moment in history when arts, culture, and story must combine with science and technology.”

Designing Water’s Future’s first iteration grew out of a 2008 session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, led by Brian Collins, Chief Creative Officer at COLLINS, and Ganter of Circle of Blue. It engaged thousands of students worldwide.

Collaborators include the World Economic ForumVoice for the PlanetGlobal Commons AllianceScience Based Targets InitiativeChina Environment Forum,  Columbia University Water CenterNorthwestern University Segal Design InstituteImagine H2OQlik.orgWater Foundry, and Vector Center.

Circle of Blue is the internationally recognized center for award-winning reporting, research, and analysis on the competition between water, food, and energy in a changing climate. It curates the World Economic Forum Transformation Maps, and produced Watershed at the Vatican. Circle of Blue is a member of the Science Based Targets Networkand founding member of the Global Commons Alliance, whose partners engage more than 10,000 cities and local governments worldwide. Circle of Blue’s model received the Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Innovation Award.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Source: Press Release (link opens in a new window)