Global fundraising relay starts today

The first ever round-the-world relay run begins in New York today with the American foundation behind it promising to cut out "UN-style bureaucracy" in distributing the money it raises to clean drinking water projects around the world.

A Blue Planet Foundation-funded clean drinking water project in Malawi
A Blue Planet Foundation-funded clean drinking water project in Malawi

The Blue Planet Run will be a non-stop relay of 20 non-professional athletes running 10 miles each every day. The runners will cover Holyhead to Dover between Tuesday and Thursday next week, and hope to arrive back in New York by 4 September. They will have crossed 16 countries and covered 15,200 miles in 95 days.

The Blue Planet Foundation, which aims to stage the event every two years, hopes media coverage will encourage substantial donations on its website. The money raised will be distributed via the foundation’s Peer Water Exchange, an online community of NGOs working in international development who are responsible for reviewing, rating and overseeing each others' projects. Each application is reviewed by at least three peers, and any project which receives an average of 7 out 10 ten is automatically funded by the foundation.

Peer Water Exchange director Rajesh Shah said the system had been developed to allow the foundation to efficiently and transparently manage thousands of diverse grassroots water projects around the world without spending large proportions of its donations on bureaucracy.

Shah said: “I want the peer groups to grow this network and manage it themselves. I don’t want to make decisions on their behalf.”

He said he had no idea how much the first Blue Planet Run would raise, but hoped that around one million people would donate $30 and 1000 people would donate $1,000.

The foundation hopes to distribute £20bn over the next 20 years. It has already distributed $1m to 135 global projects since it was founded by American industrialist Jin Zidell in 2004.

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