Action through Inspiration mobilizes effective communication to inspire others to act through inspiration, influence and collaboration. It aims to inspire society to value water and drive companies, financiers and governments to take action.
Run Blue is a campaign to create greater awareness of the scale of the world’s water crisis, build a global movement calling for change, and inspire real action on water ahead of the UN 2023 Water Conference.
In the year leading up to the conference, ultramarathoner and water campaigner Mina Guli ran 200 marathons in communities, cities and countries most affected by the water crisis, giving people around the world an opportunity to share their stories and experiences with the media, public and, critically, senior corporate leaders and government decision makers, who have the capacity to implement the action we need.
Run Blue has shared inspiring stories of challenges and solutions from Australia to Zambia, Bolivia to Viet Nam, The Netherlands to Tajikistan – bringing these video stories to life with the voices of farmers, fishers, communities, conservationists, businesses and water experts. Mina has also brought these voices and stories into major fora, including the Tajikistan Conference and COP27, and showcased them at the UN Water Conference. Mina completed her 200th marathon on the steps of the United Nations in New York to signal the start of the UN 2023 Water Conference on March 22nd 2023.
Supporting her is a growing grassroots movement, involving people from 197 countries and territories, who have virtually run and walked for water alongside her as part of free, global runs
that inspire awareness and action. The biggest of these was the World Water Run 2023 from March 16th to 22nd 2023.
How does this workstream connect with the Valuing Water Principles and systemic change?
Sharing the personal stories of individuals and communities on the frontlines of the global water crisis across various platforms and in the media communicates water’s diverse values to a significant global audience beyond the traditional water sector. By translating facts and figures into real stories, it can help to tackle ‘water blindness’, creating greater appreciation amongst decision makers in government and business of the true values of water and of our rivers, watersheds and freshwater ecosystems – and the importance of protecting and restoring them for future generations.
Inspiring and empowering action by building a global grassroots water community through regular (4-6 per year) activations that bring tens of thousands of people together to run for water – including the biggest ever public event for wetlands on UN World Wetlands Day in 2022. These activations promote education and awareness, and encourage participants to share their knowledge and how they are personally experiencing climate change through water change.
Who is involved and how?
Run Blue is organised by Thirst, a non-profit dedicated to running large, collaborative, out of the box campaigns focused on pushing water to the top of the global agenda. Run Blue is supported by the Valuing Water Initiative of the Netherlands government, the Tajikistan government, Bayer, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Wide Fund for Nature. More than 40 companies and NGOs were involved in the consultation process to develop a framework for corporate action called the Six for (SDG) 6.
Run Blue featured prominently at the Dushanbe Water Process and at COP27, with Mina delivering a number of keynote speeches alongside Run Blue exhibitions and videos. Run Blue also maximised the communications and advocacy opportunities provided by the UN 2023 Water Conference, including participating in official sessions and side events, Mina’s 200th marathon, a major exhibition in the UN building, and a high-level handover event at the start of the Conference.
Run Blue targets (among others) the biggest users of water to commit to action on water, including working with Bayer – a company whose value chain represents 20% of global freshwater use – to develop a new systemic approach to water.
Within large multinationals, employee engagement is a powerful tool for change. Leadership teams at multinationals reported that through participation in Run Blue global running activations, employees initiated conversations about water internally, instigating a shift in priorities and increasing the profile of water within the company. Led by Mina’s 200-marathon commitment, the Run Blue community has together run and walked more than 1.3 million km for water since March 2022.
Run Blue has produced compelling content on water that has been broadcast on mainstream and social channels. Emotive storytelling – including at least one short video per country that Run Blue has visited – is an effective way to cure “water blindness”. Leaders, both corporate and in government, connect to and remember real stories in real places. Storytelling helps to communicate the challenges and solutions and connect people to the issues and supports a drive for action on water.