“To address the many challenges related to water, we must work in a spirit of urgent cooperation, open to new ideas and innovation, and prepared to share the solutions that we all need for a sustainable future.” - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Today happens to mark World Water Day 2016. Back in 1993 the United Nations set aside every March 22nd as a day to reflect on the global water crisis and to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. We talk a lot on this blog about what it means to live a truly rich life. World Water Day is no small occasion in my household, and actively working to support this cause is one of the many things that make our family life truly rich. So today I’d like to share a handful of key numbers* to help illuminate a problem that is probably “out of sight, out of mind” for most of us.
The number of people on planet Earth who don’t have access to drinkable water. This represents roughly one out of every ten people worldwide.
The World Economic Forum’s ranking of the water crisis amongst all other global risks. In their opinion this issue is the most devastating problems we face in terms of potential social impact.
The number of times you could fill Sports Authority Field (where the Broncos play) with the people (840,000) who will die from water-related disease this year.
The number of hours spent by women and children collecting clean water EVERY DAY. Many of these individuals walk multiple miles to and from fresh water sources carrying heavy containers.
The amount of time that will pass before another child dies from a water-related disease somewhere around the world.
One in three
The number of people who don’t have access to a toilet. More people have cell phones than access to functioning toilets right now.
The return on investment for a dollar invested in water and sanitation projects worldwide. Studies have estimated that every dollar invested unlocks $4 of economic production.
As I think through some of these numbers I realize that there’s really no way to even understand them. Clean water. It’s always been there for me, and it probably always will be. Not only do I take it for granted, but if I’m honest with myself I would have to say that I would consider it an entitlement. This is probably true for the majority of us living in America today.
We often discuss the why behind the work we do for our clients. Obviously most of our time is spent helping people build and preserve financial wealth, but the wealth has never been and never will be the goal in and of itself for us. Our passion is to empower our clients with freedom to pursue what makes their lives truly rich. Giving ourselves to relationships, serving others, enjoying new experiences and investing in something greater than ourselves are all examples of what we’re talking about here.
For the past 5 years my wife Mandy has been running an annual raffle in support of the great work being done by The Adventure Project in training and empowering well mechanics in third world communities. This year she set a lofty goal of raising $12,000 in order to support three wells. For every $4,000 raised, a well-mechanic is trained and supplied with the parts and materials necessary to fix and maintain a well in a part of the world where a reliable water source could be the difference between life and death. A trade is taught, a job is created and a life source of fresh water is supported in a sustainable fashion for the benefit of the surrounding community.
Coordinating this effort takes a lot of Mandy’s time and is always an emotionally charged season for our whole family. But pouring ourselves out to make the world a better place for men, women and children who don’t share in the luxury of fresh water is truly one of the most rewarding things we could spend our time on. It’s what rich living is all about. I spend so much of my time distracted by my “first world problems”, wandering through my day completely oblivious to the many small miracles (ie, fresh water on demand) that greet me at every turn. World Water Day serves as an annual reminder to gain some perspective and practice gratitude for the small things. I hope that is plays the same role for you in the coming years as well.
*These statistics are all widely disseminated and drawn from articles I read from sources like the International Business Time, Water.org, The Adventure Project, Reuters and others.
Author David Houle, CFA is a founding member of Season Investments. He serves as the firm's Chief Compliance Officer as well as sitting on the investment committee overseeing the management of client assets. David spent nearly ten years in various roles primarily managing individual client assets prior to co-founding Season Investments. David graduated with a degree in Finance from Colorado University in Colorado Springs in 2003 and earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 2006. David and his wife Mandy have three children and spend most of their free time with friends and family.
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