Today, nearly one billion people lack access to clean and safe drinking water.
Last year, one billion people traveled the world.
What if we could leverage the power of one industry to help to solve one of the world’s most pressing issues? Enter WHOLE WORLD Water. A simple idea designed to leverage the collective power of the hospitality and tourism industry to help the nearly one billion people without clean and safe water and the 2.4 billion without basic sanitation.
In 2011, Karena Albers, co-founder of WHOLE WORLD Water and award-winning documentary filmmaker, attended the SLOW LIFE Symposium hosted by Sonu Shivdasani in the Maldives. This symposium was focused on creating and supporting innovative solutions in sustainability for the hospitality and tourism industry. In 2008, Sonu banned all plastic bottles at Soneva resorts, and started filtering, bottling and selling his own water to guests, giving 50 percent of the proceeds to clean water initiatives. As a result, he was able to provide clean and safe water to over 650,000 people. But he also saw something else – his bottom line grew and his plastic waste decreased dramatically.
This was a simple idea waiting to be scaled. Karena recognized it, Sonu recognized it, and Richard Branson recognized it. With their encouragement she took the idea, we met and developed a model and marketing platform that could be scaled for the industry.
The hospitality and travel industry contributes more than $6 trillion to the global economy. It makes up nine percent of global GDP, and supports 260 million jobs worldwide. Many hotels, resorts, restaurants and spas are located in areas with minimal access to safe and clean water. The social impact that can be achieved is significant. But what about the economics of such a proposition for the hotels, restaurants and resorts themselves?
Read more: How WHOLE WORLD Water benefits business. [pagebreak]
WHOLE WORLD Water begins with the premise that positive change and investment requires a model that focuses on sustainable growth. By leading with a profit incentive, WHOLE WORLD Water encourages long-term commitments for grand scale solutions. Building the bottom line is a great incentive for any business to start to change the world.
And they see their bottom line increase as much as 25 percent.
This simplicity has attracted leaders in the industry who do not believe that sacrificing their profits goes part and parcel with reducing their impact on the planet and the people who live on it. Members – Soneva Resorts, Yoo Hotels, Banyan Tree, JetWing Hotels & Resorts, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, Tao Restaurant Group, Virgin Limited Edition, and more – understand that investing in social issues does not have to come at the expense of environmental and economic progress. In fact, they go hand in hand.
But the benefits go beyond the bottom line. Members will see a reduction in food miles by curbing the shipments of commercially bottled water, alongside a reduction in plastic waste. They will serve a high quality product for guests and employees by tapping and filtering their own water. And they will become part of a non-competitive global platform reaching new travelers around the world whose ideals align with their commitment.
This initiative has a truly global footprint. Funds raised will come from every continent and have the opportunity to be invested back into the communities in which our members do business every day. With scale, everyone will have the potential to engage and benefit from WHOLE WORLD Water.
Our hope is that participation in WHOLE WORLD Water will inspire our members to look at other ways they can affect positive change and build their business – sourcing their goods and products locally, managing their waste efficiently, and aggressively supporting their communities. WHOLE WORLD Water exemplifies a new way to do business designed to unite an industry, create scalable impact, and balance environmental, social and economic progress. Collectively we can raise millions, even billions to help eradicate this issue and provide safe and clean drinking water for all.
Jenifer Willig is a co-founder of WHOLE WORLD Water. Partnering with iconic brands including Nike, Apple, Dell, Microsoft, and Starbucks Jenifer most recently led (RED), the organization founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver to fight AIDS in Africa. Through her leadership (RED) raised $185 million and became a global brand with a social following of over 2.5 million active people who advocate on behalf of (RED). Jenifer is the founder of motive, a social innovation consultancy.