WHOLE WORLD Water Goes Public with Ambitious Fundraising Effort

1/18/2013 By Glenn Hasek

It is our industry’s largest collaboration on one cause since the launch of Clean the World. What I am referring to is WHOLE WORLD Water, which was announced through many media outlets this past week. Set to officially launch on World Water Day, March 22, 2013, WHOLE WORLD Water is an effort to raise funds to improve access to safe and clean water for approximately 1 billion people.

WHOLE WORLD Water co-founders Karena Albers and Jenifer Willig believe the hospitality industry should be able to raise $1 billion each year for the WHOLE WORLD Water Fund. How? The business model encourages spas, hotels, resorts and restaurants to filter, bottle and sell their own water, and contribute 10 percent of the proceeds. An exclusive bottle created by world renowned product designer Yves Behar and fuseproject will serve as the recognizable icon for the campaign, and ClimateCare, pioneers in climate and development projects, and results based financing, will manage the Fund. WHOLE WORLD Water is currently working with Vivreau to provide the table water bottling system.

“If the top three [hotel chains] sold one bottle per room per day we could raise the $1 billion,” Willig told me in an interview this past week.

Annual Membership Fee

Hotels wishing to participate pay an annual membership fee of $1,000 plus the initial cost of the filtration system if they do not currently have one. Hotels keep 90 percent of the revenues from the sale of the water and donate 10 percent to the Fund. The $1,000 will fund a marketing campaign that includes a social media platform, celebrity endorsements, global events/symposiums and a feature length documentary film called “Thirst” that will be narrated by Brad Pitt.

Albers and Willig told me that they are talking to most of the major chains in our industry. Already on board are Soneva, Virgin Limited Edition, Virgin Hotels, Banyan Tree, Auberge du Soleil, Tao Restaurant Group, The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, Dusit Hotels and Resorts, JetWing Hotels, and The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu.

It was Soneva that inspired the global campaign. According to Sonu Shivdasani, Soneva’s founder, CEO and president, and a founding member of WHOLE WORLD Water, “Since 2008, Soneva Resorts, Residences and Spas have banned imported water in favor of bottling its own filtered water. Revenues were contributed to clean drinking water initiatives whose work has meant water access for over 600,000 people previously denied. Our resorts have proved that this solution works.”

Reputable Leaders at the Top

For those of you not familiar with the work of Karena Albers, she is founder of kontentreal, a documentary filmmaking company. Films include the award winning series e2: The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious, narrated by Brad Pitt. Willig most recently led (RED), the organization founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver to fight AIDS in Africa, to momentous growth over her four year tenure. Through her leadership (RED) raised $185 million.

Time will tell if WHOLE WORLD Water gets to where it wants to be but I strongly endorse the effort. The business model is a winner. It is an opportunity to grow your food and beverage revenues while participating in cause-based marketing that will enhance the reputation of your property. Of course employee training will be essential to the success of the initiative. All of the money going to the Fund will be used for safe and clean water initiatives.

“From a waste management perspective, this is a win-win situation,” Albers told me. If you are looking for a way to reduce plastic bottle waste and all of the negative impacts associated with plastic bottles, this is a great way to do that. A total of 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide is produced each year to bottle water. Ninety percent of the 30 billion plastic bottles that are thrown away each year in the United States end up in landfills. The switch to filtered water served in branded glass bottles can be an important part of your property’s green story.

I would love to learn what you think about WHOLE WORLD Water and be sure to stay in touch as you participate in the program. I will do my best to update readers regarding the initiative’s progress. I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com or by phone at (216) 848-1406.

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