Alexandra Cousteau is a social environmental advocate for National Geographic, the RBC Blue Water Ambassador and the founder of Blue Legacy.
By Don Richardson, Managing Partner, Shared Value Solutions Ltd.
Alexandra Cousteau – an iconic global water ambassador and National Geographic explorer continues the storytelling legacy of her renowned grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau, but with a Canadian twist.
She founded the non-profit organization Blue Legacy in 2008 to empower people to reclaim and restore the world’s water, one community at a time. She is a global advocate for bringing clear governance to multi-jurisdictional water-management systems and in Canada, and globally, is the RBC Blue Water Ambassador.
Cousteau is deeply involved in Canadian water resource issues. In 2010 Cousteau toured Canada for Blue Legacy, to “empower people to reclaim and restore the world’s water, one community at a time”. The tour introduced Cousteau to a variety of issues ranging from the impact of extractive industries such as mining and oil sands development on watersheds to Canada’s multi-layered and complex multi-jurisdictional water management systems.
“Water has to be declared a public trust, especially surface water and groundwater,” Cousteau says. “It has got to be managed, regulated and financed by public systems that are accountable to communities.”
Via Blue Legacy, Cousteau puts watershed protection at centre stage through education, film-making and social media projects: “We live in a world of watersheds and we’ve forgotten that. The problems that I’ve seen around the world all stem from this lack of a watershed-first perspective,” says Cousteau.
Here are five ways Alexandra Cousteau will inspire you to protect Canada's water:
- Cousteau's deep commitment to sharing positive stories about Canadian water initiatives is contagious - Her work with Blue Legacy, the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation and Ottawa Riverkeeper just won a prestigious Tides Canada Top 10 award for innovative social change for mobilizing politicians, influential leaders, local communities and people across the two provinces of Quebec and Ontario to protect the Ottawa River watershed.
- Cousteau has a way of helping Canadians get a grip on big picture water issues - in her work in Ontario and Quebec she promotes multi-jurisdictional governance, including First Nations as key environmental stewards in watershed protection - read more on Cousteau's Ottawa River work in this great story from Ottawa Life Magazine.
- Cousteau inspires you to learn more about the water right below your feet and within your community. For example, Alexandra Cousteay probably knows more about Toronto's lost rivers and creeks than most Torontonians - see her film Urban watersheds: Runoff to renewal in Toronto, featuring Lake Ontario Waterkeeper's Mark Mattson(who was recently appointed to the International Joint Commission's Great Lakes Water Quality Board) and Lost Rivers Founder Helen Mills.
- Cousteau gets you rolling up your sleeves and putting on your wellies - she's a vivid and engaging storyteller.
- Cousteau gets you thinking about what you can do in your community to protect water and watersheds. As the RBC Blue Water Amassador, Cousteau inspires over 650 water-focused organizations in Canada and around the world. The RBC Blue Water Project is a 10-year global charitable commitment of $50 million to help provide access to drinkable, swimmable, fishable water, now and for future generations.