Celebrities raising freshwater awareness

Wang Haoling Zhou Shengjie Zhong Youyang
A WWF China documentary series calls for more attention to the importance of the Yangtze, China's mother river, in sustaining human and animal life and the environment.
Wang Haoling Zhou Shengjie Zhong Youyang
Shot by Zhou Shengjie. Edited by Zhong Youyang. Subtitles by Wang Xinzhou and Andy Boreham.

"Water is precious, and fresh water for drinking is limited," said Dr Ren Wenwei, director of Water Practice, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) China. “We hope to involve more people in the protection of our freshwater ecosystem through ‘Journey of Water.’”

“Journey of Water” is a WWF China documentary series featuring Chinese actress Ni Ni, singer Zhang Liangying and world diving champion Wu Minxia. All three episodes can be viewed on Tik Tok, Topbuzz and iXigua Video from March 22, the 28th World Water Day.

Celebrities raising freshwater awareness
Ti Gong

From September to October last year, WWF sent the three celebrities on different water journeys along the Yangtze, the world's third longest and China's mother river, to understand water source conservation and call for public participation.

The documentary sent “Water Ambassador” Ni Ni to the Sanjiangyuan, or three-river area at the source of the Yangtze; “Finless Porpoise Ambassador” Zhang Liangying to Tian-e-zhou, or Oxbow Lake in the middle reaches of the Yangtze; and “Wetland Ambassador” Wu Minxia to Chongming Island in the Yangtze estuary.

The Yangtze River nourishes a third of China's population, as well as species such as giant pandas, snow leopards, Yangtze finless porpoises, Pere David’s deer, Chinese sturgeon and millions of migratory birds.

However, rapid and extensive economic development over the past few decades has cost a heavy environmental price. For several reasons, including dam construction, pollution, and over and illegal fishing, the health of the Yangtze River ecosystem is in jeopardy, while its Index of biological integrity (IBI) has dropped to “no fish” — the worst level.

"Water is the origin of life and the foundation of ecology. Clean water resources need our care," Ren said. Fresh water accounts for just 1 percent of the earth's surface, it nurtures 10 percent of the world's species and a third of its vertebrates.

Since 1970, the freshwater ecosystem has lost nearly 30 percent, and the number of species that depend on it has dropped sharply by about 83 percent.

Celebrities raising freshwater awareness
Zhou Shengjie / SHINE

Dr. Ren Wenwei has four suggestions of small things people can do to safeguard the freshwater ecosystem. 

Ren said there were now much more advanced technical ways to purify water than before but they came at a higher cost, while nature is free and more efficient in the long term. He said a freshwater ecosystem provides us with abundant ecological services that include fresh water, food, livelihoods, flood control and drought resistance.

Through the “Journey of Water” tracing and experiencing the water source, WWF is asking the public to pay more attention to and protect drinking water sources and wetland ecosystems, thereby conserving habitats for species relying on fresh water.

In September 2020, the journey will begin again. More celebrities and members of the public are expected to join the campaign.

Dr. Ren has four suggestions for small things people can do: 1. Cut down the amount of water used, especially for unnecessary purposes; 2. Try to reuse water, such as watering flowers with the water used to wash vegetables; 3. Use water friendly products, like water saving toilets; and 4. Do not eat wild animals at any time..

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