8 September 2010
This week is World Water Week, an annual event in which the scientific, business, policy and civic sectors get together in Stockholm to address the planet's most urgent water-related problems.
And urgent is the word. According to the UN, almost half the world's population will live in areas of high water stress by 2030 as a result of climate change. The 2030 Water Resources Group (of which we're a member along with McKinsey, Coca-Cola and others) has estimated that by the same year the average global water supply will fall short of demand by 40%.
Long-term access to affordable, high quality water is critical to our own business. We also know that finding solutions requires innovative thinking, strong leadership and effective partnerships. And because water scarcity tends to be felt locally, it's usually best tackled by alliances of local stakeholders.
It's against this background that we formed the Water Futures partnership in November 2009 with WWF and the German development agency, GTZ. To mark this year's Water Week, the partnership has just published a report on progress so far. Also called Water Futures, the report describes our collaboration in Peru, Tanzania, Ukraine and South Africa where we've carried out detailed water footprinting exercises to gain a better understanding of the risks and bring together local stakeholders to develop solutions.
Recognising that water is likely to be a contentious topic in years to come, we see Water Futures as part of a wider strategy of identifying tomorrow's big issues, getting together with high-level partners and finding answers for the mutual benefit of our businesses and the communities in which we operate.
In a world of scarce resources, it's clear that business must be part of the solution.
Download a copy of the Water Futures report PDF