Companies urged to ‘unite to combat water shortage’

Global beverage firm SABMiller has called for businesses to invest in partnerships to secure water availability and quality and protect both the environment and long-term profitability.

Speaking at the Economist World Water Summit yesterday (6 November), SABMiller Latin America president Karl Lippert emphasised the importance of addressing water scarcity in “releasing untapped prosperity at all levels”.

According to Lippert, partnerships should be made between communities, central and local governments, businesses and non-governmental organisations to tackle shared resource risks such as water scarcity. Companies for whom water is core to their operations must also let go of a “compliance mind-set” and invest in water security, he said.

Sustainable farming

Lippert described how SABMiller has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and local utility companies to develop water funds in several countries across Latin America. These will be used to encourage agricultural communities to develop more sustainable farming methods at the same time as protecting vulnerable watersheds.

It is hoped that this will lower the cost of water for communities and businesses as well as increasing supply.

Lippert said: “Water needs to be seen by both businesses and policy-makers as far more than simply an environmental issue. It is a social issue, a health issue, a development issue, a business issue and an economic issue.

“SABMiller invests in partnerships to secure water for our business growth and for all other water users around us. This is a business investment, contributing to our profit, as well as one that delivers strong social and environmental benefits.”

In July, SABMiller announced a set of new sustainability targets to cut water consumption and CO2 emissions by 2020.

Earlier this week, edie reported on research from the CDP suggesting that more than two thirds of the world’s largest corporations say water scarcity could harm their business, with a quarter expecting it to limit growth.

Lois Vallely

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie