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Water for the World photo exhibition

Jul 2011
Belgium

Water is a life challenge for 2.6 billion people lacking access to fresh water or proper sanitation. Climate change, increasing population and changes in eating habits are putting our resources at risk on a global scale. Water is also an underestimated issue in many developed countries, where water is taken for granted by most people, industry or farmers. Raising awareness of the scale and range of water challenges is a key step to engage staff and communities in better using and preserving their water resources.

To raise awareness and encourage a more efficient use of this precious resource, Borealis has initiated the Water for the Wold photo exhibition. Since its launch in November 2008 the exhibition has already visited 10 communities in 5 countries and will continue touring throughout 2010.

Water is a life challenge for 2.6 billion people lacking access to fresh water or proper sanitation. Climate change, increasing population and changes in eating habits are putting our resources at risk on a global scale. The value of water is also underestimated in many developed countries, where it is taken for granted by most people, industrialists and farmers. Raising awareness of the scale and range of water challenges is a key step to engage staff and communities in better using and preserving their water resources.

To engage employees and local communities, Borealis developed the Water for the World-photo exhibition roadshow. The exhibition takes its origin from the book “Troubled Waters” by the wellknown Belgian photographer Dieter Telemans, documenting with his photographs the water crisis, its causes and consequences. From drought in the Horn of Africa and floods in Bangladesh to massive irrigation in Spain, the exhibition gives an emotional impression of the wide range of water challenges.

Partnered by industry appreciated by community

Starting in November 2008, the exhibition has been staged so far at 10 locations in 5 countries and its tour is planned to continue in 2010.

Belgium was the first country in which the exhibition was presented. There, it was rolled out in partnership with Green, a Belgian NGO, the community of Beringen and the local water distribution company VMW-Vlaamse Maatschappij voor Watervoorziening. Together with Green, a free educational package on water topics was developed and provided to the schools in the community of Beringen. Guided by a representative of Green, in total 350 school kids visited the exhibition and participated at a water contest initiated as part of the project.

Subsequently the exhibition was also shown in Mechelen and Zwijndrecht. Local water distributors AWW (Antwerpse Water Werken) and PIDPA (Provinciale en Intercommunale Drinkwatermaatschappij van de Provincie Antwerpen) cooperated in the roll-out and provided a range of information materials related to water. In all Belgian locations Borealis employees were invited for a guided tour. The high level of interest was reflected in a request from the Hidrodoe water-based action park at Herentals for the loan of the exhibition for the benefit of its visitors during the 2009 summer vacation.

In Finland, the exhibition was on show in the Borealis building in Porvoo for four weeks then moved to the University Consortium of Pori. There its presentation was coincided with the launch of the virtual Water School, an educational website for schoolchildren aged 10-11 throughout Finland.

This project is partnered by the Finnish Water Institute, Borealis and the Educational Office of the city of Pori. More information about Water School is available in a separate Water for the World case study.

At Rockport, USA, the Borealis location in North America, the exhibition coincided with ‘Earth Day’. It was presented at the local elementary school, where the entire day was dedicated to water topics. Around 300 children and their teachers discussed water related subjects in class and did water-based experiments. At the end of the day, kids signed up as ‘water friends’ on a big board, as a personal commitment to do their bit to protect this precious resource.

On the Borealis site in Burghausen, Germany, the exhibition was on display for two weeks with presentations to Borealis and OMV employees and a special presentation for media and stakeholders from the local community. In addition, schoolchildren aged 15-16 years, were invited to visit the exhibition together with their teachers who asked for further supporting material for use in day-today classroom work.

Continuing the tour in 2010

Building on the positive outcomes of the exhibition throughout 2009, Troubled Waters will be back on the road during 2010. The start-point will be Vienna where it is planned to stage the exhibition coincidentally with ‘World Water Day’ which is celebrated each year in March.