Submitted by guest blogger on Mon,08/18/2014

By Amita Rajguru of IUCN’s Water Programme.

We are living in a new reality; we are faced with a world where the destabilising effects of climate change are unprecedented in living memory, and the demands on the environment are greater than they have ever been.

In the western world, where household taps flow freely, it’s too convenient to forget that clean drinking water is already a scarce resource in many parts of the world. In the face of both ridiculous wealth and incredible poverty, how can we look past our materialism and solve critical water issues before it’s too late?

The way I see it, we can’t. Materialism has permeated our lives too deeply – we need to embrace it and use it to create positive social change. NGOs used to have a reputation for sitting in research labs and collecting data that would eventually decorate shelves. And the public saw environmental issues as a game of hot potato – always the responsibility of someone with more authority… but not anymore. It’s our responsibility, as the face of conservation, to get people interested and engaged with our work! We need to step up our game and show the world how to achieve all the solutions that our research says will work. And to do that, I propose that we use the crème de la crème of materialism for all it is worth: social media.

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In a world with an attention span of 140 characters or less, I see a road forward which is paved with photos, videos and hashtags. With over 1.8 billion social network users around the world, the best way to be heard is to simply say something, and to say it simply.

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