Water is a shared and precious resource to be managed responsibly by all users in the watersheds where they live and operate. Water stewardship is about understanding that water cannot be managed alone, and addressing challenges collectively. At Nestlé Waters, our approach to effective water stewardship is based on the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard.
A positive driving force
Today, the global demand for water exceeds the planet’s supply. It has been increasing at a rate of about 1% per year, and will continue to grow significantly over the next two decades . Therefore, water stewardship is vital.
By its very nature, water stewardship promotes transparency and engagement. It forces water users to look beyond the limited boundaries of their own factories, farms and supply systems and consider the bigger picture. Good water stewardship delivers mutual benefits, as it safeguards water supplies for all stakeholders.
Water stewardship at Nestlé Waters
At Nestlé, we care for water. In fact, water stewardship is not new at Nestlé Waters. Our efforts to protect water resources go back over 25 years, when we launched a joint research programme with INRA, the French National Agronomic Research Institute. In 1992 we started the Agrivair project, which is a unique, ongoing multi-stakeholder model that demonstrates our commitment to the community and to preserving the quality of water resources. We have also long been conducting hydrogeological studies and continuous water resource monitoring in the watersheds where our plants operate.
We focus our efforts and resources on four key areas: in our factories, continuously improving water use efficiency; in watersheds, working with partners to protect shared water resources; and in the communities where we are present, to widen access to clean water and sanitation. The wider Nestlé group also focuses efforts across our agricultural supply chain, where water challenges are putting the sourcing of our raw materials at risk.
Our care for water, our commitment to Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) and our collaborative work are also seen as important catalysts to ensure other water users at catchment level adopt best practices and work with us in a collective way. We are convinced this is the best way to make an even greater impact, where it matters.
Three interrelated components
Our water stewardship programme is built around three closely interconnected components: transparency, collective action and certification.
The importance of transparency is straightforward: the better local water users understand the issues surrounding a watershed, the better we can work together to develop action plans to address these issues. By sharing our body of hydrogeological studies and resource monitoring data in a form that local stakeholders can understand, we enhance trust and drive collaboration, which in turn can lead to the second component- collective action.
Collective action is the key to water stewardship. No single user can positively contribute to a watershed on their own. At Nestlé Waters, we work together with local stakeholders to address shared water challenges and develop collective actions where they are needed. Protecting the ecosystem in a hydrological forest basin in Mexico, or developing a water plan in collaboration with Lahore University of Management Sciences (LIMS) and WWF in water-scarce Pakistan, are just two examples of recent collective actions.
The third component, certification, provides a framework for the first two. The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) is a global organization that promotes responsible use of freshwater. AWS developed the first comprehensive standard for measuring responsible water stewardship across social, environmental and economic criteria. The AWS certification process, which must be renewed every three years, drives transparency and collective actions, and impels our local teams to further challenge, improve and transform our water stewardship practices – helping us stay at the top of our game
Water stewardship is thus essential for the watershed, local communities and Nestlé Waters. By ensuring their sustainability, we can grow our business while creating value for local communities.
Did you know?
In June 2018, we announced that we will certify all our sites by 2025 in accordance with the world’s first global water stewardship standard. It will reinforce our commitment to safeguarding water resources for future generations through our stronger collaboration with the Alliance for Water Stewardship.