There are hosted lunches each day at TED, and today I went to one hosted/sponsored by Coke, which has been teaming up with various NGOs to work on bringing water to wider public attention.
Coke certainly uses a lot of water in its core business proposition, which suggests why the corporation is interested in maintaining access to an uncontaminated supply. Daniel Vermeer is director of the sustainable value chain at Coke, and he told me he has spent the past five years working on water. After the lunch (at which attendees were tasked to come up with opportunities to raise water’s global profile) he summarized these five ideas:
1. Link water to the climate discussion (because people need an intrinsic sense of what water is and what it means to conserve).
2. Emphasize the embeddedness of water in every part of the industrialized system, from clothes to Coke. As Vermeer put it, he realized water’s importance when he realized that a car was essentially an industrial swimming pool driving around.
3. Use technology (an unsurprising suggestion from this crowd). But there could be an inexpensive opportunity to allow individuals to monitor the quality of their water.
4. Exploit innovation and connect stakeholders in a design sense. The Global Water Challenge is just one example of this philosophy in practice.
5. Create a movement around water issues and activate people in a powerful way to work together.
These kinds of discussions are the meat and potatoes of TED.
What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.