World Water Day: 5 Visionaries You Should Know

Water is life. With communities worldwide facing drought, pollution, and more, these five visionaries outline what we can do to protect, restore, and cherish one of nature’s most precious gifts.

Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow speaking at the Bioneers Conference in 2003.

The world is running out of fresh water, and there is no environmental crisis as great as the commodification of the world’s water supply by giant corporations. Maude Barlow, national chairperson of The Council of Canadians, and author of Blue Gold, describes the movement to guarantee a water-secure future based on conservation, equity and the public good:

“Water is the sacred life blood of the earth, no one has the right to take it for profit. Until we collectively understand that, expect more resistance, expect violence, expect the resistance to get stronger, expect it to get global, expect the rise of a powerful civil society movement to challenge the lords of water. No one gave them the world’s water: people and nature will take it back.”


Kandi Mossett

Kandi Mossett

In the Bakken Formation of North Dakota the oil industry’s frantic extraction has violently exploited nature and people – especially on the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation in what has become a drilling/fracking sacrifice zone. For Mossett (Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara) of the Indigenous Environmental Network, this violence has come at a personal cost. Several acquaintances, as well as her dear friend Cassi, lost their lives to reckless transport truck drivers, poisoned water, soil and air, and rampant drug abuse and crime. There’s little or no accountability, leaving many residents no other option than to relocate. “So…do I stop breathing? What am I supposed to do?” Mosset is fighting back, from the local to the United Nations, garnering social, political and legal momentum, and winning victories for hers and future generations:

“We come to fight back, to gather, to take back the power in our communities – because no one else is going to do it for us.”


Henk Ovink

Henk Ovink speaking at the Bioneers 2015 Conference.
Photo Credit: Nikki Richter

One of the world’s leading experts on sustainable, resilient coastal infrastructure, Henk Ovink served as a Senior Advisor to the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and is a leading figure in the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. He shares his vision of how we must change our entire culture to put water back into the center of our hearts and minds if we are to cope effectively with climate change, water crises, biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, extreme weather events, and myriad environmental/economic/sociopolitical crises:

“Infrastructure can make a better community and environment, only if you are willing and able to do it right.”


Wallace J. Nichols

Wallace J. Nichols speaking at Bioneers 2014

The cognitive and emotional benefits of healthy oceans and waterways have been celebrated through art, song, romance and poetry throughout human history. Marine biologist, activist, community organizer and author Wallace J. Nichols dives deeper and explores our blue minds through the dual lenses of evolutionary biology and cognitive science, reminding us that we are water:

“Water connects us, changing our brain in the best possible way. Water gives us a Blue Mind.”


Alexandra Cousteau

Alexandra Cousteau speaking at Bioneers 2008

As a member of the legendary Cousteau family, Alexandra Cousteau grew up traveling the globe, and learning firsthand the value of conserving the natural world. An Emerging Explorer with National Geographic, Alexandra discusses what we must do to preserve the integrity of our planet’s waters; shares stories from her most recent adventures around the world; and speaks about her latest initiative, which seeks to inspire and empower individuals to protect not only the oceans and its inhabitants, but also the human communities that rely on the purity of our freshwater resources:

“We must shift our current perception that water exists in fragment stasis, towards a more accurate understanding of water as a system in which we are all downstream from one another.”


Learn more about World Water Day here, and follow along with Bioneers as we dive deeper into this revolution with our March newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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