We work in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders worldwide to drive progress on our shared imperatives. We have asked key partners to provide commentary on work we have undertaken together, and on where there are opportunities for future collaboration.
WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature. Freshwater is a priority for the organisation because individuals, communities, nature and businesses all rely on water to survive and thrive. But we know that our freshwater ecosystems are under growing pressure. Given we all depend on freshwater, the global water crisis is important to all of us, including the private sector.
“Stewardship” goes beyond being an efficient water user. Water stewardship is about businesses understanding the risks they face from water scarcity, pollution, and poor governance and taking action to help ensure water is managed sustainably as a shared, public resource. It is about companies collaborating with governments, other businesses, NGOs, communities and others to protect shared freshwater resources. WWF is helping redefine the role of the private sector in advocating, supporting and promoting better water governance for the benefit of people and nature.
While there are no formally agreed principles as to what makes a “water steward,” we know the philosophy of water stewardship is common sense. Act within reason. Be mindful of limits. Be responsible. WWF and SABMiller’s shared respect for these basic principles underpins our work together.
As part of our evolving relationship, WWF reviewed SABMiller’s water risk approach in detail, as well as the wide range of water partnership programmes in place. We believe SABMiller’s focus beyond its own operational water risk is a leading example of corporate water stewardship, as the company is committed to the long-term water challenges facing its breweries, rather than investing in sporadic or high-profile, short-term projects. The water risk methodology, which has been rolled out to all its breweries across the globe, is a sophisticated tool that helps ensure each operation clearly understands the local water risks.
SABMiller is well known for a number of leading water partnerships, including those with national WWF offices. The partnerships demonstrate an inclusive approach to working with local stakeholders and are generally well focused on the key water risks identified. One observation is that the scope of investment and commitment is typically not at the same scale as the water challenge. This is typical of many water risk responses by the private sector and will require serious consideration if SABMiller is to have the impact it intends.
WWF would like to encourage SABMiller to continue its leadership role on water stewardship and to show even greater urgency in dealing with water risk to its operations, its agricultural supply chain and the communities living in surrounding areas.
CARE International believes that business can make a significant contribution to poverty alleviation. As one of the world’s largest NGOs, we work with companies, like SABMiller, who demonstrate commitment to supporting our poverty reduction agenda to bring about impactful change to the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
There is both an opportunity and responsibility for companies such as SABMiller to improve livelihoods and reduce poverty across its value chain and beyond. This is not only the right thing to do but also supports commercial growth objectives and a long term sustainable approach to business.
The value chain for the alcohol and beverage industry cuts across several communities that CARE is already present in and focused on: from smallholder farmers who produce key brewing ingredients to local communities who share the same watershed as breweries to the small retailers and shop keepers who sell SABMiller’s products.
CARE worked with SABMiller teams across the world to develop a measurement framework that evaluates the impact of SABMiller’s enterprise development programmes across its agriculture supply chain, its small retailer network and in local communities. We helped define what a successful enterprise development programme should look like and the key livelihoods outcomes and impacts that could be delivered, and should be measured globally. Key performance indicators were prioritised based on their ability to measure impact at the community level and internal business relevant outcomes. To achieve this, CARE facilitated discussions across SABMiller and supported capacity building of business teams to implement the measurement framework.
We are also working collaboratively with SABMiller to consider the broader role the business can play in enabling women’s empowerment in value chains, and in helping address the significant challenge of gender-based violence. We view gender-based violence to be a key social issue that the alcohol sector must play a role in addressing. We know that the causal factors of gender based violence are complex and varied but there is a clear social and commercial imperative for alcohol companies to help address it in a transparent and considered way.
For example in agriculture, we know that women are paid less than men for their labour, have less access to finance for production inputs and are under-represented in agricultural organisations. Economically empowering women is both a fair and effective way to boost farmer inclusion and prosperity thereby leading to a better functioning supply chain. In addition, separate but related social issues such as gender-based violence need to be considered in parallel to economically empowering women – particularly issues where alcohol is viewed as playing a contributing role and which significantly limit gender equality and women’s empowerment.
SABMiller’s Prosper strategy is a leading approach to the challenging sustainability issues in their business and the communities in which they operate. CARE would like to see SABMiller continue to invest in this strategy and further integrate their sustainability work with their core business objectives.