Geneva (Switzerland)/Nairobi (Kenya), 16 April 2010 - "Every step and every drop counts to solve the water crisis."
This is the rallying cry of the global Live Earth Run for Water campaign which on Sunday 18 April will mobilize communities in more than 175 cities around the world to raise awareness of the growing scarcity of safe, clean water.
A series of 6km community runs or walks will take place over the course of 24 hours, accompanied in some cities by educational Water Villages and sustainably-managed concerts featuring international artists.
Supported by the UN Environment Programme, the Live Earth organizers are aiming to stage the largest ever solutions-based initiative aimed at solving the world's water crisis.
Six kilometre runs were chosen as the campaign centerpiece, as this is the average distance women and children walk to collect water in many developing countries.
UNEP was also an official partner of the "Live Earth: Concerts for a Climate in Crisis", a series of memorable rock concerts staged on seven continents on 07.07.07 (7 July 2007) which successfully triggered greater public awareness of the threat of climate change.
The organizers are hoping the campaign this Sunday will achieve similar results, only this time drawing attention to the daily challenge facing around 880 million people who do not have access to clean, safe water.
This startling figure includes an estimated 165 million people across the Pan-European region who must cope on a daily basis with contaminated or dwindling water supplies. Part of UNEP's contribution to the global effort this Sunday involves partnering with the City of Vernier to stage a Friends of Live Earth 6km walk along the River Rhône.
"While walking beside the Rhône, we hope the participants will realize that water is rare and valuable despite its apparent abundance in Switzerland," the Mayor of Vernier, Thierry Cerutti, said.
"Everyone taking part can learn about water conservation through organized information stands and signs along the route while they soothe their souls and appreciate the importance of living in harmony with great waterways such as this," Mayor Cerutti said.
Among the cities which will host a Live Earth Run for Water concerts are Los Angeles (Melissa Etheridge), New York (John Legend and The Roots), Atlanta (Rob Thomas), Rio, Brazil (Jorge Ben Jor), Cape Town (The Parlotones), Buenos Aires (Kevin Johansen) and Mexico City (Kany Garcia/ Sandoval).
UNEP is also linking the 'green' Live Earth concerts to a new UN Music and Environment initiative, currently under development by UNEP and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in conjunction with a cross-section of the music industry.
Other Friends of Live Earth events include clean-ups at local waterways, fund raising to donate money to build wells and other water infrastructure, and a photographic exhibition in Mumbai. A full list of Live Earth Run for Water and Friends of Live Earth events is available at http://liveearth.org/run.