Did you know the invention that saved the most lives in human history is…the toilet?
Well, actor and activist Matt Damon wants you to know that, among other critical issues about water and sanitation – like how every minute a child dies from a water-related disease.
A year after the World Economic Forum identified the water crisis as the most pressing issue on the planet in terms of societal impact, USA Today interviewed Damon and Gary White, co-founders of Water.org, about their organization that seeks to provide 1 billion people with access to clean water, and how much progress they’ve made.
“We’ve seen terrific momentum in terms of bold, new commitments to the cause this last year,” Damon said. “The Clinton Global Initiative announced that pursuing universal access to safe water would be a top priority for the foundation in 2015.” This was no doubt in part to Damon appearing on a Clinton Global Initiative panel last fall to discuss his charity with positive results.
Damon, who is so dedicated to his cause that he used toilet water for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, went on to say that “the WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Water announced it would focus on engaging global business leaders to ensure equitable water access in emerging markets. And just before the close of 2014, the U.S. Congress passed into law the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act reflecting the government’s commitment to ending the crisis for the world’s poor.”
Additionally, according to White, the charity surpassed its goal of reaching 2 million people with safe water, and/or sanitation, which contributes to children’s health and education, and helps women become more economically productive.
As for what 2015 holds for the organization, White said that 2015, in their view, is the most important year of the millennium for change.
“In September, the United Nations will unveil the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — a global agreement to pursue new goals that will enable the world to eradicate extreme poverty, tackle inequality and ensure a more sustainable planet,” said White. “These goals can’t be achieved if we don’t solve the global water and sanitation crisis and, therefore, we are encouraged to see a dedicated goal to universal access to safe water and ending open defecation by 2030.”
Damon continued that Water.org will continue working with its global partners, both on grass-roots and grass-tops levels, to achieve their long-term vision.
“We live in a complex and interconnected world,” Damon said. “In order to solve some of the biggest challenges we face, such as ending extreme poverty, we know we must address and finally end the global water crisis for billions around the world.”
We commend both Damon and White on their progress, and wish them a successful 2015.