The UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 commits the world to ensuring everyone has access to safe, clean water and sanitation by 2030. At Nestlé Waters, we support and contribute to these global efforts by collaborating to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water.
Water sources represent a special kind of resource in that they are shared by a wide-ranging number of users: farmers, industry, the local population, and in some cases water-bottling companies such as ourselves. Given the many stakeholders involved, the only path towards sustainable success is through collective action. As the leading bottled water company, our responsibility towards water extends beyond the walls of the factory to the wider watershed. By initiating or participating in collective actions, we seek to play a leading role in the protection and preservation of this vital resource.
Rising to the water-scarcity challenge
Water is essential for life. Yet the United Nations estimates that by 2030 global demand for water will exceed supply by 40%. Over 630 million people do not have access to clean drinking water. Almost 2.4 billion people are exposed to contaminated water sources, putting their health and wellbeing at serious risk.
Nestlé Waters operates a third of its factories in water stressed or scarce areas. One such country is Pakistan, the third most water stressed nation in the world. With an annual water availability of 1,017 m3 per capita (down from 1,500 m3 in 2009), some estimates claim that without immediate, collective action, the country could run dry by 2025.
As the latest recent step in our commitment to water stewardship, we unveiled the Caring for Water (CFW) – Pakistan initiative in October, 2017. Local partners include Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), WWF Pakistan, the Department of Agriculture, Government of Punjab, and the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC).
The CFW-Pakistan is a blueprint for bringing the different local partners together to discuss what everyone is working on, invite feedback on how to improve what we are already doing and to brainstorm what else we can work on. It also aims to preserve and protect water resources by leveraging research and technology to recycle water, introduce sustainable agricultural techniques to reduce water use, and provide access to clean and safe water in the surrounding communities.
In the words of Nestlé Pakistan’s Managing Director Bruno Olierhoek: “We will increase the number of drinking water facilities from 6 to 7 in 2018 with a new installation in Kabirwala. Furthermore, we want to promote drip irrigation, amongst other water efficient initiatives. In 2017, drip irrigation has been implemented on 68 acres leading to water savings of 140 million litres. This will be further extended to 185 acres, resulting in expected water savings of 400 million litres by the end of 2019.” Furthermore, alongside the Sheikhpura factory, which was the first Nestle facility in the world to receive AWS certification followed by the Islamabad factory certified in 2018, there are plans to get the other two current factories AWS-certified by the end of 2019.”
The six drinking water facilities provide access to safe and clean drinking water to more than 60,000 people per day.
Protecting water sources
Nestlé Waters’ efforts to protect water sources is long standing; the first Nestlé Waters water stewardship initiative, Agrivair, can be traced back to 1992. This pioneering environmental community initiative, in the Vosges region of France, was designed to protect the quality of the natural sources of our Vittel®, Contrex® and Hépar® mineral water brands. To do this, we set up a dedicated subsidiary called Agrivair, bringing together farmers, businesses, local authorities, tourist organisations, charities, horticulturalists and residents.
Over more than a quarter of a century, Agrivair has helped to improve and protect the quality of soil and biodiversity in the Vosges region, while implementing a zero pesticides policy. The programme includes sourcing land and making it freely available to farmers, providing free composting, manure-spreading services, and offering advice on technology and financing for agricultural development. Other measures involve encouraging farmers to stop using pesticides, and to limit the cattle population to one cow per hectare of land – while maintaining net income.
Agrivair spans roughly 10,000 hectares of land. It is a unique and exemplary model that demonstrates our commitment to the community and a more sustainable way of working. The programme was extended in 2016, when we began sharing our expertise with other regions to protect the Perrier® source at Vergèze (France) and the Valvert® source at Étalle (Belgium).
Did you know
More than 70% of the world’s available freshwater supplies is used to grow food (1).
Sources: (1) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations