HOW A HURRICANE STARTED IT ALL
In 1998 Duncan Goose was caught in Hurricane Mitch, a deadly Atlantic storm that killed more than 19,000 people in Central America. He saw millions left homeless and without fresh water. The experience led him to found One, a UK based bottled water and drinks brand which has donated over $20 million to water projects, providing water services to 3.3 million people.
With 800 million people still lacking access to reliable, safe water and sanitation, ending water poverty clearly needs a much more ambitious approach. As world leaders discussed the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations, it was clear that achieving Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation for all by 2030 – would need a huge boost in investment. With global bottled water sales approaching $200 billion by 2020, Duncan could see the potential for raising much greater sums if just one cent from every litre of bottled water sold was directed to a global fund for sustainable water services.
In 2015, the Rockefeller Foundation generously supported the work of a small team of experts and strategists to develop and test the concept for a Global Investment Fund for Water. 8 The following year, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Chair of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, agreed to offer his support.
In the research phase of Water Unite, it became clear we had to link our efforts to improve access to water and sanitation services (SDG 6) to environmental concerns and simultaneously address SDGs 12 and 14. Our goal is to reduce marine and terrestrial plastic pollution by preventing and minimising plastic waste. We will do so by aligning our interventions to support extended producer responsibility approaches and to strengthen the plastic value chain in countries where this is needed the most.
In April 2017, Mr. Rudd hosted a meeting of bottlers, retailers, water experts and NGOs in Washington DC. Around the table were representatives of some of the world’s biggest bottled water brands. Global Citizen, a movement of millions of people, joined the effort as communications partner and 29,000 of their members signed up in support.
The Water Unite brand was conceived and developed in 2017, and formally launched on 22 March, 2018, World Water Day.
Today, Water Unite aims to be nothing less than a globally-recognised brand and mark of industry best practice, with the potential to improve the lives of billions of people.