World Economic Forum Spotlights Vector Center’s CEO

World Economic Forum Weekly Agenda: A member, An Idea

Spotlight on our Network members

I’m J. Carl Ganter and I’m passionate about how freshwater defines environments, economies, cultures, countries, and futures. A reporter, photojournalist, and facilitator of ideas, I founded Circle of Blue and Vector Center to tell the world’s most important stories — combining the best of AI and data with on-the-ground reporting to make water and all that it touches come alive with relevancy and urgency.

The blue planet is thirsty. Our satellites, our sensors, and our analyses describe a reality so alarming that the numbers are difficult to perceive. That more than two billion people are without access to a reliable supply of safe drinking water, and some 4.5 billion do not have safe sanitation services. That in a dozen years, with climate as a force-multiplier, 700 million people could be water refugees, and that more than a dozen cities worldwide may run out of water.

For all the data and projections, the headlines and the heartbreak, we still don’t fully grasp the difference between our perceptions and Earth’s reality. We need to craft a new narrative for water, a universal story that aligns values with value, and hope with action. We have the technology and ingenuity to apply science-based targets to shift a dangerous course, and Sustainable Development Goals to guide us. But we must include behavioral and social sciences in our calculations to discern what stories and actions motivate change and spark behavioral inflection points. We then can transform water from being among the world’s top global risks to becoming its most cherished resource.

What behavioral or social approaches can be applied at scale to shift the dangerous course for the world’s water supplies? Join the discussion here, and expect a new twist in the conversation each week.

Originally published as part of the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network Weekly Agenda.