One of our keynote speakers at the East Welcomes West – Women’s Power Summit in Beijing was Mina Guli. Mina is an Australian, living in Beijing whose passion is global water awareness.

She began as an environmental attorney and moved into managing a fund dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in China. Through this work, she was nominated by the World Economic Forum (WEF) to be a Young Global Leader. At the WEF’s global conference she moderated a panel on the subject and was so moved by the impending water crisis that she decided to learn all she could on the topic and determine ways to make a difference. This ultimately became her passion and she founded Thirst, a water saving movement headquartered in Beijing, China.

As Mina Guli, explains, “Unlike energy, there are no substitutes or alternatives for water. And unlike money, there are no bailout packages to rescue us from our water debt.” The global population is consuming the world’s water supplies faster than they can be naturally replenished. Although our planet is covered in more water than land, only 2% of this water is accessible and drinkable. Within our lifetime, it is predicted that 2 in every 3 people will be without access to clean drinking water. In China alone, 300 million people are already without access to an adequate supply of water. This is not only an issue for China, but for the entire global population.

Thirst has begun educating Gen Xers in China. To date over 40,000 children in schools and students at university have graduated from Thirst’s education module. Thirst has trended as number 1 on Sina Weibo (Chinese Twitter) on World Water Day, harnessed media coverage with a readership of over 65 million people and gained more than 250+ million impressions from major Chinese news portals. Recently, 1,967 students helped set a Guinness World Record for the largest human water dragon to help build worldwide awareness!

I learned that 90% of water in China’s cities is polluted and was surprised to also learn that over 45% of streams and 47% of lakes in the United States are polluted as well. Living in southern California, I experience first-hand the effects of drought and know this is an issue that affects all of us.

Personally, Mina has competed in several challenging runs to raise awareness for this issue. Her next challenge is to run some of the most difficult deserts in the world to raise awareness for this issue. She announced her intention to run 7 deserts on 7 continents ending in Death Valley in California at our conference. I look forward to meeting Mina in California when she comes here to compete and will support her efforts through Thirst in the meanwhile.

Please join me, visit thirst4water.org or contact Mina Guli at mina@thirst4water.org for more information.