With rising temperatures, plastic pollution and carbon emissions in dangerous numbers, leading scientists and advocates examine the impact of climate change on our waterways and water supply, the consequences for humanity, and solutions that could turn the tide before it’s too late. Washington Post Live, in partnership with Rolex, will spotlight innovative ideas for expanding access to clean and safe sources of water and conserving this precious resource. Join the conversation with Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.org and WaterEquity, Arun Krishnamurthy, founder of the Environmentalist Foundation of India and Gary White, CEO and co-founder of Water.org and WaterEquity.

Check out The Washington Post’s Climate Solutions section, in partnership with Rolex, focusing on the individuals working to find answers.

Highlights

Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.org and WaterEquity, says it’s incumbent for wealthy Western countries to help expand global access to clean and safe sources of water. “I think it’s incumbent on us in the West to do this. Look at the wealth on this planet. We can figure this stuff out. The exciting news for us is that there are solutions, and it’s about getting people activated and energized around them.” (Washington Post Live)
Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.org and WaterEquity, shared a story about how a 14-year-old girl in Zambia with aspirations to be a nurse inspired him and why he believes water is a basic human right. “The very first kid that I met was a 14-year-old girl... I went on a water collection with her in Zambia… we walked together, this mile, to get the water...She wanted to be a nurse, she wanted to go to the big city[…] and as I left, I realized she reminded me so much of Ben Affleck and me when we were kids. We were going to go to the big city, we were going to New York, we were going to be actors and I just really connected with her...it's not just the senseless death, the stupid death as Bono likes to say...it's also the massive loss of potential.” (Washington Post Live)
Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.org and WaterEquity, says he’s encouraged by the actions President Biden has taken on climate change, but added it’s important to give new administration’s time. “These administrations really deserve a chance. They’re up against a lot. It’s humbling the amount of pressure from all the different fronts that the administration deals with, and so I think all voters need to root for the American president always and give them time to engage with this stuff. But the early signs are encouraging.” (Washington Post Live)
Gary White, CEO and co-founder of Water.org and WaterEquity, says universal access to water is “absolutely” possible in our lifetime. “If we think of this as a problem that we can tap the markets for, that's what is inherently scalable." (Washington Post Live)
Arun Krishnamurthy, founder of the Environmentalist Foundation of India, says innovation and techniques of the past can be used in concert for conservation efforts. “This isn’t rocket science, that’s what I’ve understood. We’re talking about a global crisis for which there needs to be localized solutions and those localized solutions have to come from grass roots and it cannot be dictated from laboratories or policy makers because what’s happening today is the climate crisis is not reaching the common citizen. (Washington Post Live)

Guests

Matt Damon, Co-Founder, Water.org and WaterEquity

Academy Award winner Matt Damon is an actor, screenwriter, producer and humanitarian, who has garnered international acclaim for his work both on- and off-screen. Inspired during international travel with his family throughout Mexico and Guatemala as a youth, Matt has long been devoted to environmental and social issues. Learning about the immense challenges of accessing safe water and sanitation in Sub-Saharan Africa, Matt was inspired to create the H20 Africa Foundation. In 2009, he teamed up with Gary White to merge their organizations and launch Water.org.

For his work as Co-founder of Water.org, Matt, along with fellow Water.org Co-founder Gary, was recognized as one of the TIME 100 most influential people in the world in 2011 and received the Environmental Media Award from The Environmental Media Association in 2013. In 2014, the World Economic Forum named Matt as the Crystal Award winner for his work through Water.org. Matt’s active participation in his organization’s work, including site visits to multiple countries, strategy development, advocacy and high-level meetings with institutions like the World Bank and the World Economic Forum over the past decade, has positioned him as one of the world’s experts on water and sanitation issues.


Arun Krishnamurthy, Founder, Environmentalist Foundation of India

E.F.I. is a wildlife conservation and habitat restoration group started by Arun in the year 2007. E.F.I. focuses on real-time and result oriented conservation efforts. E.F.I. is a not for profit, self-funded organization. The organization focuses on community based conservation of freshwater bodies and has restored 107 lakes across India as of Oct-2019.

Gary White, CEO and Co-Founder, Water.org and WaterEquity

Gary White is an observer, an innovator, and a passionate problem-solver. He has created solutions that have empowered millions of people in need with access to safe water and sanitation.

Gary is the CEO and Co-founder of Water.org and WaterEquity, nonprofit organizations dedicated to empowering people in the developing world to gain access to safe water and sanitation. Gary developed Water.org’s WaterCredit Initiative, creating new financing options for poor populations to meet their water supply and sanitation needs. He also developed and now leads WaterEquity, the first-ever impact investment manager dedicated to ending the global water crisis in our lifetime, with an exclusive focus on raising and deploying capital to water and sanitation businesses that serve people living in poor communities throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Bringing 30 years of experience to work on solving the global water and sanitation crisis, Gary is a leading advisor in the water and sanitation space, counseling organizations such as the Skoll Foundation, Reckitt Benckiser, PepsiCo Foundation, IKEA Foundation, Inditex, the World Economic Forum, and Bank of America on responses to the global water crisis. He is also a founding board member of the Millennium Water Alliance and Water Advocates.

Named to TIME magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people, Gary has been awarded the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Social Entrepreneurship, named to the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water, and selected as Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur and a Skoll Foundation Social Entrepreneur.

Gary’s educational credentials include three degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Missouri University of Science & Technology.