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Together, We Can Combat the Global Water Crisis

By Justina Nixon-Saintil, Chief Impact Officer, IBM

Extreme weather events like heat waves and droughts are causing widespread climate upheaval across the world. This, combined with the lack of resources available to the most vulnerable communities, exacerbates water scarcity and access to clean water – most often for those who can least afford it.

The global water crisis is a large-scale issue, and with the UN predicting that we will face a global water deficit of 40% by 2030, we must consider new approaches to improving access to safe drinking water for all.

But no one company, NGO, or non-profit can do it alone – we need to come together as a global community in an all-hands-on-deck approach if we’re going to address water scarcity and prevent the most severe impacts of climate change on future generations.  

IBM has committed to being part of the solution – and one of the ways we believe we can do this is through partnerships. That’s why in 2022, IBM launched the IBM Sustainability Accelerator, a pro-bono social impact program that scales nonprofit and government organization initiatives, helping communities particularly vulnerable to environmental threats. IBM selects five organizations each year to form a cohort focused on a specific climate issue and provides expertise and technology – such as hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence – to partner and scale their projects aimed at tackling pressing climate challenges.

This year, the third cohort of our Sustainability Accelerator will focus on water. Increasing access to clean water and empowering communities to effectively conserve water resources will be paramount to tackling this pressing concern over the long term. IBM is committing $10 million worth of services and cutting-edge technology to enhance these projects over the next two years. All nonprofit and government organizations supporting water management solutions are encouraged to apply.

Globally, we are at a critical inflection point when it comes to water resources and access. More than 733 million people live in countries with high and critical levels of water stress. One in every three people worldwide lacks access to safe drinking water and 3 billion people do not have access to basic hygienic necessities like hand-washing facilities. And if we face a global water deficit of 40% by 2030, 700 million people could be displaced if radical solutions are not deployed. 

We firmly believe that large global corporations like IBM can help turn the tide against these harrowing projections through meaningful partnerships and by investing the funding, manpower, and resources in local and regional organizations that are working to address these critical issues.

IBM is proud of the critical work we’ve done thus far with the IBM Sustainability Accelerator. We are ready to help lead the way in addressing the global water crisis with our next cohort.