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  • Nicholas Cook

The Water-Witch™ and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a call to action adopted by all 193 UN member states in 2015 with the aim to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives all humanity by the year 2030. Sadly, while there has been some progress, the UN’s last formal assessment from 2020 reports that the world is not on track to meet most of the 2030 targets. The impact of the pandemic, which has held back progress over the last 2 years is now compounded by the ramifications of a war in Europe

Many companies and organizations have aligned their activities and created initiatives according to the SDGs, however it is rather too easy to be cynical about the motivations of some. Some tobacco companies for example, have even gone so far as to make a claim that they are aligned with SDG3, an assertion that is very hard to view with credibility.

From the outset, a major driver in the development of the Water-Witch™ has been to assist people in the developing world to help themselves. By enabling people to grow food and forests, faster, more reliably and with much less water, using what otherwise would be waste, we are already aligned many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Water-Witch™ is potentially very low in cost when manufactured in scale, and one major goal is to use sales of the Water-Witch™ in the developed world to extend its availability in emerging economies.

Without too much of a stretch of the imagination, it is easy to see the Water-Witch™ has a real prospect to make a meaningful impact on 13 of the 17 SDGs. Furthermore, as the activities are not reliant on philanthropy, they are far more likely to be sustained over time.

The fact that the Water-Witch™ is aligned with so many of the SDGs serves to me as a strong confirmation that we are on the right track. I hope you agree.

According to the World Bank 26% of the world’s population lives on less than $3.20/day and with a disproportionate number in water-stressed regions. The Water-Witch™ delivers improved yields for hand watered crops, dramatically lower water use, requires no complex infrastructure, and is potentially accessible even for farmers who operate primarily outside the cash economy.

The availability of water already limits the growth of food crops in much of the world, and pressure is increasing dramatically due to over exploitation of water resources, climate change and population growth. The Water-Witch™ enables local production of food crops with extremely small quantities of water and extends the areas and places that can be cultivated.

Providing children and families with fresh nourishing food is the fastest and cheapest way to improve both short and long term health, a truism that applies as much to the developed as to the developing world. Even in the 21st century, the highest known quality source of most nutrients is freshly harvested fruits and vegetables, consumed close to where they are grown.

In much of the world, water is still carried by hand and the task of collecting it falls disproportionately heavily on women and children. A University of Pennyslvania study found that in 15 of the 17 African countries researched, 75% of the journeys to carry water were made by women and children. This distortion in the burden of carrying water was also found to be common in poor rural areas in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East*

Run off from conventional irrigation carries with it fertilizer, silt and organic material, which is one of the primary causes of contamination and algal growth in freshwater bodies. The Water-Witch™ delivers water and plant nutrition without any run-off and nearly no loss, retaining the nutrients in the soil around the plant.

The carrying of water and the hand watering of plants for food is a significant time burden for many subsistence farmers. The Water-Witch™ greatly decreases the labor, time and attention required to raise plants, compared to hand watering, increasing the time available for other activities.

The Water-Witch™ is an innovative means to enable the beverage industry, already marketing its products to the developing world, to find a beneficial and economically sustainable use of its waste to improve lives and the environments where it operates.

Establishing greenery in and around buildings in urban environments improves air quality, cools the landscape, provides shade, improves urban environments, provides habitat for animals, and enhances mental health.

The most elegant and effective means to reduce the environmental burden of a single-use consumer product is to re-use it. The Water-Witch™ converts what would otherwise be single-use plastic bottle waste into a highly beneficial device that can be utilized hundreds of times. The Water-Witch™ is designed to be made from recycled bottle caps and can itself be recycled at end-of-life.

Growing plants addresses climate change with influences across many dimensions: photosynthesis absorbs CO2 and fixes the carbon into the plant body, root structures retain and condition soil, the leaves absorb the energy of sunlight and reduce temperature of the environment, and transpiration supports the natural water cycle.

Single-use plastics that find their way into the ocean and other water-bodies are a major concern for society. By unlocking the value inherent in waste plastic bottles, with a product that helps communities and the environment, the Water-Witch™ forms a strong motivator and communication tool to encourage consumers to return bottles after use.

The Water-Witch™ grows plants faster and better, without infrastructure and with a minimum of water. This allows us to raise plants in locations and circumstances where it would otherwise be difficult and/or prohibitively expensive. Some examples are reforestation, restoring degraded environments and even to halt desertification.

Our short-term goal is to create partnerships between governments, industry, consumers and people-in-need to use common consumer waste in a sustainable program to improve environments and lives.

* Safe Access to Safe Water in Low Income Countries: Water in Low Income Countries: Water Fetching in Current Times. Susan B. Sorenson, Christiaan Morssink, and Paola Abril Camposa. Scholarly Commons.

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