GM GREEN Addresses Global Water Challenges with Local Solutions

GM GREEN Addresses Global Water Challenges with Local Solutions

Employees from GM’s Bowling Green Assembly plant mentor local students during a water monitoring event in September 2013.

Jeff Bernard, a facilities site manager at GM’s Lansing Grand River Assembly plant, and students from St. Thomas Aquinas Parish School retrieve water samples from the Red Cedar River in East Lansing, Mich., during a GM GREEN event in October 2013.

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Friday, August 28, 2015 - 3:45pm

CAMPAIGN: GM Resource Preservation


Today marks the conclusion of World Water Week, a time devoted to raising awareness of global water issues. Since 1991, the world’s top water experts, decision-makers, business innovators and conservationists have gathered in Stockholm for a week-long conference to address the critical challenges to our most essential resource.

This year’s conference theme was “Water for Development” and sought to shift the conversation from global water issues and goals to the actual implementation of programs at the local level.

We implemented the General Motors Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GM GREEN) for that very purpose 26 years ago – even before there was a World Water Week. In fact, GM GREEN is the longest-running conservation education program by any automaker, impacting 150,000 youth through hands-on learning since its inception in 1989.

GM GREEN encourages community engagement by helping youth better understand their impact on local watersheds. It’s a partnership between community-based organizations in GM communities and nonprofit Earth Force.

Here’s how it works.

Each year GM and the nonprofit Earth Force match more than 10,000 students with GM mentors to retrieve water samples, test and analyze them, identify an issue of concern, and develop a community project addressing it.

Mentors from 50 GM facilities – including all of our U.S. and Canadian manufacturing plants – team with community partner organizations and neighborhood schools to teach students about assessing water quality. They use the information gathered to learn ways to effect positive change in their local watersheds.

GM GREEN is designed to sharpen problem-solving skills, improve knowledge of science and the environment, and encourage community involvement through hands-on learning experiences that introduce youth to environmental science, and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Last year, 212 GM mentors volunteered in water monitoring events, classroom visits and student-driven watershed improvement projects. The program engaged 14,336 students from 42 communities and 135 schools in 2014.

Each GM GREEN participant benefits from the collaboration, which is a key reason for its growth over the last 26 years. It gives teachers an interactive way to increase student interest in the environment, helps youth see real-life implications of studies, enables local environmental groups to expand their influence, and provides GM employees a fulfilling voluntary mentoring experience. 

After more than a quarter century, GM GREEN is still going strong. It’s proven a successful model for how students, teachers, community partners, and business can work together and make a positive impact on watersheds and in communities.

More importantly, it’s helping instill the values of environmental stewardship and the importance of water conservation in youth, sowing the seeds for true sustainable development in the next generation of leaders

Through GM GREEN, we’ve discovered that the most effective approach to tackling the global water problems is with local solutions, tailored to the specific needs of diverse communities and ecosystems. 

CATEGORY: Environment