By: Marc Yaggi
A 20-Year Plan to Protect and Restore the World’s Waters
Pollution, diversion and drought have triggered a global water crisis that will be the central political, cultural and economic feature of our children’s lives. The World Bank predicts that the looming world water cataclysm — already affecting every continent — is the principal challenge to organized civilization in this century.
The Waterkeeper model, first proven during the Hudson River’s near miraculous restoration, has now become the pre-eminent method for both individuals and grassroots groups battling against this crisis. Waterkeeper Alliance is growing exponentially and now contains more than 330 Organizations and Affiliates patrolling and protecting waterways in 39 countries, on 6 continents. Thanks to our supporters, the Waterkeeper movement is the fastest-growing and largest non-profit group that is focused solely on water. In fact, demand for our model is now starting to outpace our capacity to serve prospective Waterkeeper organizations and affiliates across the planet.
For the past year we have been building a plan to invest in new resources and programs to support Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates, and to manage the future growth of our movement. We have critically assessed our organization’s optimum achievable pace for expansion, and developed a strategic business plan for the next 20 years. Executing this plan will allow Waterkeeper Alliance to meet our natal vision of having community-based Waterkeepers safeguarding every waterway in the world. We will improve our local Waterkeepers’ capacity to pursue effectively the goal of drinkable, fishable, swimmable waters, and we will elevate our standing as the go-to advocate on every important water issue. We have christened our plan “Project Osiris,” in reference to ancient Egypt’s all-important Nile River deity.
Project Osiris begins with large investments in training and support services for our more than 330 Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates, to bolster the skills needed to protect their waterways and communities. To broaden our base, we will strengthen and deepen our communications work, create a robust science-and-technology department, expand our rapid-response capability during natural and man-made disasters, enhance our presence in Washington, D.C., and dramatically increase our legal capacity to enforce, defend, and strengthen laws.
We also have developed a strategic-growth plan to recruit the brightest and best-trained advocates on all habitable watersheds in the world. We began this process by identifying the world’s most significant endangered waters and devising a plan to grow our network responsibly to cover more than seven million square miles of watersheds within five years and protect more than a billion people. By year 10, we plan to cover more than 12 million square miles of watersheds protecting more than 3.75 billion people. By year 20, more than 20 million square miles of watersheds will be served by a Waterkeeper group, and our movement will protect more than 8 billion people.
Project Osiris is a bold plan, but we are ready to execute it, and we know that true change will start with strong leadership at the local level. We will unleash an army of highly trained, committed, politically and technically skilled Waterkeepers, battle-hardened and armed to fight for the realization of a world in which clean water is the life-spring of global prosperity, dignity, and human aspiration, a world in which communities have voices in the fate of their critical natural resources. We are grateful to all of you who will work with us to make this plan a reality.