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Global water crisis activist runs 78th marathon in Istanbul

An Australian activist, who set out to run 200 marathons to draw attention to global water shortages that are increasing with climate change, has run her 78th marathon race in Istanbul.

“We’re literally in the middle of a massive water problem of a water crisis around the world,” Guli said on Sunday about her “Run Blue” campaign to raise awareness about the water footprint.

Starting her first marathon in her home country on March 22, World Water Day, Mina Guli, 52, set foot in the Turkish metropolis to start the European leg of her campaign after completing marathons in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and Türkiye’s Lake Tuz (Salt Lake) in the central province of Konya.

“Unfortunately, for most people it is hidden, but I’ve seen it and I want the world to see it, too,” she said.

Guli pointed out that companies are responsible for almost 90 percent of the world’s water use, directly or indirectly, and she aspires to convince 200 countries to take concrete action or “Run Blue” by completing the marathons by the start of the UN World Conference in March 2023.

‘Failure isn’t an option’

Guli underlined that with accelerating climate change, the global water crisis requires urgent action.

“We cannot hope anymore. Now we need to make things happen. We’re beyond the time of hope. We are into the time of opportunity for change because frankly, failure isn’t an option. We don’t have a planet B,” she said. 

Two months earlier, Guli ran a marathon in the Aral Sea, the fourth largest lake in the world, 90 percent of which has dried up due to water that has not been replenished and increasing temperatures.

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“I thought to myself for 30 years scientists told us that this lake would dry up and we just ignored them. People told us that Lake Urmia would dry up and we ignored them,” she continued.

“Now people are telling us that the Salt Lake in the US is going to dry up and we’re ignoring them, too. We see the rivers in Europe drying up. We see the lakes drying up. Lake Tuz has dried up because of climate change and also because of the diversion of the inbound rivers,” she said.

“So we need to find a way to ensure that these warnings are not ignored anymore.”

2023 UN Water Conference

Emphasising that the issue “has been swept under the rug or it’s been forgotten about or deprioritised” for more than 50 years, Guli said the Water Conference “is a really great opportunity for us to use as a catalytic moment to drive change by governments, companies and all of us as individuals.”

“We have an opportunity now over the next few months to show our leaders in government in the halls of power, in the boardrooms that we need them to do more.”

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