At Omnicom Media Group MENA, water is an issue that we’ve rallied behind. In honour of World Ocean’s Day, we caught up with the Group CSR manager, Alanna Turpin, to talk about our commitment to minimizing the impact of the global water crisis and reducing plastic pollution. Check out her interview below.
OF ALL THE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AT HAND, WHY WATER?
Omnicom Group globally is committed to the environment and minimizing our impact on the planet. You’ll see this translate differently in different markets. Our journey with clean water started when we changed the drinking source in the building from plastic bottles to filtered tap water. When we removed plastic from the building, we wanted to align ourselves to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – specifically clean water and sanitation (goal number 6). This helped our staff truly understand the importance of the steps we were taking. We then held an awareness campaign around clean water and plastic pollution. From here we held regular awareness campaigns to educate people that water is a precious commodity and since Dubai has the highest consumption per capita globally, it was a topic that was worth addressing. It was an opportunity to reduce our building consumption with a few simple practices.
WHAT STEPS HAVE WE TAKEN TO REDUCE OUR WATER FOOTPRINT OVERALL?
We installed aerators across all washrooms in the building, changed the taps in the prayer room to more efficient “push” style taps and replaced kitchen taps with the most efficient ones. We also have awareness sessions in our environmental campaigns we hold throughout the year.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO PARTNER WITH PLANET WATER? WHAT SETS THEM APART?
When I was pushing to transition from plastic bottled water to filtered tap water, Planet Water coincidentally got in touch. They identify areas in third world countries that are in desperate need of water filtration systems and partner with corporations to give the gift of clean water to these communities. The way they evaluate everything from start to finish really sets them apart. From the comprehensive analysis of the most needed areas for these towers, to how they revisit the sites every four months to check the quality of the water and the maintenance being done by the school. The filter itself lasts up to 15 years but after five years of visits, it’s handed over to the school to manage themselves. After 15 years, the filter will just need to be changed and the structure can remain for many more years. Apart from setting up the water filters for the villages, they educate the teachers and the children on basic hygiene. This is so important when they’re not used to considering such things.
WHAT WAS THE IMPACT OF THE PARTNERSHIP EXTERNALLY AND INTERNALLY?
Our staff are now increasingly becoming aware of the global water crisis and feel the need to help others less fortunate. Since last year, we’ve sent members of our staff to India and the Philippines to villages to help build the water towers and help educate the children on basic hygiene. Through this project, around 5000 children now have access to clean running water. It means that children no longer suffer from stomach issues from drinking dirty water. We have heard feedback that from our installation in Mahalaxmi in India that because the children live at the school, they are no longer being rushed to see a doctor in the middle of the night because of stomach issues. This is great not just for the children, but also because the teachers are able to have more time to teach and are not spending hours around the clock waiting for children in the hospitals.
WOULD WE DO IT AGAIN AND WHY?
Of course! This is the second time we’ve done this project and it’s an initiative that many internally now look forward to every year. Not only that, it has a tangible and direct impact on the health of children. This in turns allows them to concentrate more on their education.
You can check out a video of the experience below.