National Geographic Mission Blue Water Scarcity

Photo by Pete McBride for National Geographic

As millions of Indian citizens continue to struggle with poor access to clean drinking water, 21st Century Fox’s National Geographic has teamed with Water Aid India and top talent from Bollywood to launch Mission Blue, a new initiative to raise awareness of water scarcity and drive conservation. The company will air documentaries and television specials about the crisis across its channels in India, and the campaign’s website will provide digital tools allowing viewers to calculate their own water footprints and provide ways to save water in their daily lives. National Geographic’s Swati Mohan announced the initiative in Mumbai in honor of Earth Day.

“National Geographic has always been a brand that has stood for driving purposeful change, something we have been doing for over a century now,” said Mohan, Business Head at National Geographic and Fox Networks Group, India. “Today, the water crisis around the world calls for much attention. In India alone, 76 million people lack access to safe water, a problem that is only going to get worse if no immediate action is taken. We are hopeful that this initiative will help enlighten people on what can be achieved by collective action.”

To help tell the story of how water scarcity impacts daily life people in India, National Geographic India will air four short films from award-winning Bollywood directors Imtiaz Ali, Hansal Mehta, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, and Madhur Bhandarkar, all of whom have made their films available on the campaign’s website. The channel will also air Parched, the three-part documentary series from Academy Award winner Alex Gibney that explores the environmental and political causes of water scarcity around the world. The series initially premiered in the US in March.

“I am proud to be associated with an inconic brand that has the legacy of working for the cause of preserving the planet,” said Bollywood star Farhan Akhtar, who serves as the public face of the campaign. “National Geographic Mission Blue is a very special initiative that is very close to my heart. It has the power to enlighten, inspire and empower people who are unaware of what they can do towards the cause of water scarcity and drive real change. I hope people will realise the responsibility of conserving water for their own future is in their own hands.”

National Geographic has also partnered with Water Aid India for MissionBlueMySchool, an effort to provide clean drinking water to a school in southwest Delhi that serves more than 2,500 children. Currently, the school relies on tanker trunks to bring an often-insufficient water supply to its students. MissionBlueMySchool aims to install a piped supply system for the school, as well as filters, coolers, and a rainwater harvesting system.

In the last five years alone, the National Geographic Society has funded more than 50 grants relating to water conservation, both in the United States and around the world. In the words of National Geographic Society President and CEO Gary Knell, “While National Geographic’s legendary storytelling and iconic images have helped raise awareness of critical water issues, the fact is we go far beyond creating content. We help people stop and think about what’s going on in the world today, but also — more importantly — what could happen to make it better.”

Learn more about National Geographic Mission Blue, including how small acts of conservation every day can help secure a safe, clean water supply for future generations.

Unique Lodges of the World, National Geographic

Launched in 2015, the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World is a collection of 55 world-class hotels spanning 30 countries and 6 continents that offer guests rare experiences with parts of the world that not many get to know. Each lodge is deeply rooted in its community and dedicated to protecting surrounding ecosystems and cultures—and harnesses their vitality to safeguard them for the future. On March 27, National Geographic released the first Sustainable Tourism Impact Report, compiled from data from each of the member lodges that measures the impact of their practices, from use of renewable energy to protecting endangered wildlife. The report details this impact and highlights stories about some of the innovative sustainability projects at the lodges, and serves as inspiring proof that tourism—when done thoughtfully and carefully—can be a powerful force for good in the world.

To join the Unique Lodges of the World cohort, each interested property underwent a rigorous on-site inspection by the National Geographic Sustainable Tourism team, who reviewed their operations based on the four pillars of sustainable tourism: protection of natural heritage, protection of cultural heritage, support for local communities, and environmentally friendly practices. The launch of the collection and release of the report is particularly timely, as the United Nations recently designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The UN’s goal, embedded within the universal Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, is to motivate the travel industry and bolster tourism’s role in inclusive sustainable economic growth, resource protection, cultural conservation, and conflict resolution. The Unique Lodges of the World Collection’s core mission aligns with this goal, and the report demonstrates how tangible results are already being produced.

In less than two years, lodge collection members have rehabilitated and protected over 3.7 million acres of land and sea, referred to as their collective conservation footprint. They have given over $76 million in direct contributions to historic and cultural site preservation, which lies at the heart of National Geographic’s mission to embrace and protect all aspects of heritage, from language, music, textiles, and art to landmarks, architecture, and sacred sites. Having invested over $3 million in community initiatives, the lodges support education, health, and small business development, and they are actively engaged in reducing waste, recycling materials, and cutting carbon emissions—these efforts have diverted over 3 million pounds of waste from landfills around the world.

“When travel is done the right way—the sustainable way—then local people and visitors alike benefit from the power and promise of travel to alleviate poverty, protect nature, and safeguard cultural heritage for future generations,” said National Geographic’s Costas Christ, Senior Advisor for Sustainable Tourism.

Learn more about the  Unique Lodges of the World and read National Geographic’s Sustainable Tourism Impact Report today.

ProjectPitterPatter.JPGIn May 2012, STAR TV premiered Satyamev Jayate ("Truth Alone Prevails"), a documentary talk show that explores some of India's most pressing social issues. The series has sparked national discussion on a range of issues, including water scarcity. When Adishree Parasnis, a teacher at a primary school in Pune, saw the water episode, she decided to work with her students to help their local community save water.

Parasnis, a Teach For India Fellow, had been reading about Pune's drought problems in the newspapers, and after teaching a science lesson on rainwater harvesting and watching the Satyamev Jayate episode, she got the idea for a water conservation project, which she calls Project Pitter Patter.

She and her young students--all around the ages of eight and nine--made posters advocating rainwater harvesting that they posted all around the local community, in shops, rickshaws, and homes. The students also went house-to-house around their neighborhood providing buckets to collect rainwater, which gave the locals extra water with which to bathe, cook, and drink (after boiling).

"The kids are teaching the adults," said Rekha Bansode, the mother of one of the students. "It was very exciting for us."

Read more about Project Pitter Patter at the school's blog, and check out the video recap from STAR.


On Wednesday, Nov. 21, the Environmental Media Association, an independent nonprofit, awarded Life of Pi, one of the latest blockbusters from 20th Century Fox, a Green Seal for the environmentally sustainable practices employed during the film's production.

Director Ang Lee and his crew followed Fox Entertainment Group's Green Guide by providing reusable water bottles, renting hybrid cars for transportation, and exchanging information digitally whenever possible.

Lee's film company also constructed a 1.7 million gallon water tank out of concrete-made fly ash, a waste material from coal-burning power plants, thereby helping reduce pollution created from the power sector. After filming wrapped, the tank was donated for use in future films, and the water was treated so that it would be suitable to drink.

Life of Pi is currently showing in theaters around the world.

National Geographic Channels International celebrated Earth Day through programming such as:


  • "The 12,000-Bottle Boat":  Premiered on Thursday, April 21, at 8:00pm.  Eco-adventurer and environmentalist David de Rotschild spreads his message of environmental responsibility by commissioning a six-person catamaran made from 12,000 recycled plastic drinking bottles with the goal of sailing the vessel (the Plastiki) on an 8,000 mile journey.
  • Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for NatGeoImage.bmp"Desert Seas":  Premiered Thursday, April 21, at 9:00pm.  Nat Geo WILD compares the vibrant marine life of the Red Sea and the sand-dusted reefs of the Gulf.  The program features what is believed to be a never before filmed event - the release of millions of eggs and larvae from Gulf corals.
  • "Secrets of the Mediterranean: Cousteau's Lost World":  Cousteau's son and marine ecologist Enric Sala dive to the site of Cousteau's expedition to see if Cousteau's predictions were true that overfishing and pollution would destroy the ocean.

National Geographic International also promoted their Big Cats Initiative with Asian markets.  Events featured an exhibit for the initiative.