CEOs from 16 corporations – including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Cargill, Diageo, Dow Inc, Ecolab, Gap Inc., Kurita Water Industries Ltd, PVH Corp, Starbucks, alongside The Coca Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive, GlaxoSmithKline plc., Heineken, IHG, Levi Strauss & Co., and Woolworths Holdings – pledged in an open letter to improve the way they use and manage water to ensure ample and resilient freshwater resources for all. The letter was published on World Water Day, which this year focuses on the theme of valuing water.
According to UN-Water, the impacts of climate change are felt first and foremost through water. Increasing global temperatures cause drought, flooding and other extreme weather events 一 all of which pose a direct threat to businesses and the communities they operate in. Water scarcity in particular is a major financial concern for businesses. Today 3.6 billion people worldwide live in water-stressed areas and without further action based on projected demand, the world will face a 56 percent shortfall in freshwater supply relative to demand by 2030.
Companies around the world are increasingly recognizing the value of water through working with initiatives like the Valuing Water Initiative – and the impact that water scarcity poses to their businesses. A 2020 report from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) estimates that some $301 billion of business value is at risk due to water stewardship challenges.
The Water Resilience Coalition, whose corporate members boast a $2.8 trillion total market capitalization, is an initiative of the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate. The CEOs involved are focusing on finding climate smart water solutions that address water stress. In their open letter they are calling for three overarching commitments from industry leaders to meet by 2050:
· Net-Positive Water Impact: Deliver measurable net-positive impact in water-stressed basins where they operate, focusing on the availability, quality, and accessibility of freshwater resources. Net-positive water impact is achieved when a water user’s contributions exceed its impacts on water stress in the same region.
· Water Resilient Value Chains: Develop, implement, and enable strategies to support leading impact-based water resilience practices across the global value chain.
· Global Leadership: Raise the ambition of water resilience through public and corporate outreach, as well as inspire other industry leaders to join the Coalition and sign a Pledge.
Through these commitments, the Coalition aims to positively impact water in 100 basins worldwide and to enable sustainable access to drinking water and sanitation for 100 million people by 2030.
Commenting on the call to action from CEOs, Sanda Ojiambo, CEO & Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact said: “This open letter is an important step to elevate water stress to the top of the corporate agenda. The business sector has a key role to play to help lead the way towards water resilience because of its reach and the resources it can leverage to accelerate progress. This can not only help cut water risk but is also a business opportunity for enhanced investment in water security.”
“Water is one of the most pressing climate and community issues of our time and we all need to act now to make a positive difference; we cannot afford to wait,” said Ivan Menezes, Chief Executive Officer of Diageo, one of the Coalition’s founding members. “Those of us in the private sector have an incredibly important part to play and we need to collaborate more to share knowledge, best practice and solutions – as well as drive significant action across our own supply chains. The Water Resilience Coalition provides a unique platform for everyone to come together so that we can deliver measurable changes to people’s lives across the world.”
Notes to Editors:
Water Resilience Coalition
The Water Resilience Coalition brings together some of the biggest companies in the world to help preserve the world’s freshwater resources. Led by the CEO Water Mandate, an initiative of the UN Global Compact, coalition members will commit to having a positive impact in water stressed basins, to develop and implement resilient practices across their industry, and to provide leadership and advocacy in the field of water resilience. Water Resilience Coalition (ceowatermandate.org/resilience)
United Nations Global Compact
As a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Our ambition is to accelerate and scale the global collective impact of business by upholding the Ten Principles and delivering the Sustainable Development Goals through accountable companies and ecosystems that enable change. With more than 12,000 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and 69 Local Networks, the UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative — one Global Compact uniting business for a better world.
For more information, follow @globalcompact on social media and visit our website at unglobalcompact.org.
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