9 August 2006


9 August 2006
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



To draw attention to the world’s growing water crisis, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today announced a new partnership between the United Nations, hip-hop recording artist Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and MTV aimed at enlisting the help of young people in addressing the problem.

Announcing the initiative, the Secretary-General said, “The water crisis, like many issues confronting our world, can only be fully addressed with the active participation of young people everywhere”.

More than a billion people worldwide lacked access to clean water while 2.6 billion people have no access to proper sanitation, Mr. Annan said.  As a direct result, nearly 2 million children died every year.

“Most of us take water for granted.  We turn on the tap and there’s plenty of it or, if we prefer, we can buy hundreds of different brands in the supermarket,” he said.  “But for more than a billion people who lack access to safe drinking water, this is an inconceivable dream.”

As part of the new campaign, Mr. Carter, who was also the President and CEO of Def Jam Records, would travel to areas affected by the water crisis where sustainable, environmentally-friendly solutions had been found or were being developed to bring fresh water to devastated communities.  MTV’s cameras would document those visits for a special, Diary of Jay-Z: Water for Life, premiering on its worldwide network on 24 November.

“All of us at the United Nations are excited about this initiative,” the Secretary-General added.  “Working with MTV and Jay-Z, we hope this campaign will motivate youth to take action both in their own lives, and in support of broad eco-friendly initiatives.”

Mr. Carter said he was inspired to join the campaign during a recent world tour.  “I’m not going to go there and rap to them, I want to touch and maybe help, to see what I can do in these areas,” he said.  “I’m very excited to go out, not only to be a rock star in these countries, but also to help, and also, to visit places where we can see the effects of our contributions,” he said.

For its part, MTV hoped to “inspire a new generation of young people around the world to take simple actions that can save millions of lives and possibly the planet”, said network President Christina Norman.  “These are the innovators who won’t settle for the status quo, and they’re constantly challenging their peers, parents, teachers, and leaders to make the world a better place,” she said.

Noting that in its 25 years of existence, MTV had maintained a constant dialogue with young people, she said its reach was tremendous, with more than 50 channels available in more than 440 million households.

“We know that this partnership with the UN and Jay-Z will open the eyes of young people to one of the world’s great crises, and most importantly, how they can apply their time, talent and energy to help solve it,” Ms. Norman said.

MTV was asking young people to help in two ways, she went on.  First, they could provide support for such items as solar-powered water pumps in schools and PlayPumps, a children’s merry-go-round that pumped water from below ground.  The cost of providing such assistance was minimal.  “Six dollars can help bring water to a child for a full decade,” she noted.

Secondly, she said, MTV was running a “Break the Addiction” campaign in the United States, urging people to change their daily behaviour in ways that reduced the impact of global warming, a contributing factor to the worsening water crisis.

Asked to describe the campaign in more detail, Ms. Norman said that MTV was running daily public service announcements on how viewers could reduce their consumption.  It had also posted information on its website directing people to other places where they could learn more about the issue.

“We’re in this for the long haul”, she said.  MTV was committed to raising audience awareness and letting its viewers know that they could have an active role in participating and solving the global crisis.

Asked whether he would be meeting with governments in addition to young people, Mr. Carter said he preferred to stick to his areas of expertise, namely music and reaching out to people.  “My thing is to make everyone aware of the problem and create access.  That’s why I linked up with the UN,” he added.

Asked about his financial contributions to the campaign, Mr. Carter said that he had donated the money to build 10 PlayPumps (a PlayPlump costs approximately $14,000 each).  According to the PlayPump website, he had sent letters to people in the music industry asking them to do the same.  His goal was to build a thousand of the water pumps in the near future.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.