By Susan Tate and Sarah Kollar

Every September 18th, EarthEcho International celebrates citizen scientists around the world investigating the quality of their local waterways in honor of World Water Monitoring Day. EarthEcho, established by explorer and advocate Philippe Cousteau, Jr., inspires young people worldwide to act now for a sustainable future with a focus on ocean health, water quality, and biodiversity. Through the EarthEcho Water Challenge, EarthEcho builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world. To date, this program has activated over 1.6 million citizen scientists to monitor and protect local waterways in 146 countries. With watershed protection as a key component of the Water Challenge, EarthEcho is excited to partner with Ocean Conservancy to highlight the connection between World Water Monitoring Day and the International Coastal Cleanup, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this September.

Ocean Conservancy has led the fight for clean, trash-free seas since 1986, when the organization launched its first annual International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) on a beach in Texas. Since then, the ICC has expanded to over 150 countries and has mobilized over 16 million volunteers to remove more than 344 million pounds of trash from beaches and waterways around the globe, all the while logging each item and building the world’s largest database on marine debris.

International Coastal Cleanup volunteers in Finland

While ICC events this year may look different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, EarthEcho joins Ocean Conservancy in encouraging Water Challenge participants to #CleanOn in their community with an individual or small-scale socially-distant clean up in their neighborhood or at home by reducing waste. Visit the 2020 International Coastal Cleanup website for more information about how you can participate  “together apart” for our communities and for our ocean.

Recognizing the importance of water monitoring to assess and protect ocean health, Ocean Conservancy has provided interested 2020 ICC event leaders with EarthEcho Water Challenge test kits to launch this collaboration between our organizations. These kits will be utilized by nearly 100 event leaders in 34 countries, who will then share their findings through the EarthEcho Water Challenge global database.

EarthEcho and Ocean Conservancy look forward to highlighting the importance of citizen science in protecting our local waterways this September, and the continued expansion of our work together!

Susan Tate is the EarthEcho Water Challenge Manager and Sarah Kollar is the Outreach Manager for Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup