Corporates still ‘too silent’ over water risk issues

Businesses need to communicate more effectively about their water strategies if they are to raise awareness and effect real change in tackling water scarcity.

This was one of the key outcomes of a recent roundtable discussion hosted by The Guardian in association with Anglian Water Business, which looked at the pivotal role that companies can play in addressing this issue.

The closed meeting, which was attended by several big corporates including Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), Diageo and Marks & Spencer as well as industry and government bodies, explored how stakeholders can go beyond monitoring their own water consumption to work with suppliers and ultimately, influence the thinking of domestic consumers.

There was a strong consensus that collaboration was the way forward and that companies were starting to adopt a more holistic approach through engaging with suppliers to ensure the concept of sustainable water use is spread throughout the value chain.

Many delegates stressed the importance of innovation as an essential tool when it comes to managing water supplies such as the use of rain water harvesting and drip irrigation in the agricultural sector.

One representative said that from an investment point of view, water scarcity was rising up the agenda with investors starting to look at water risk as a possible block to investing. Another said that water strategies could become as importance as carbon in terms of reporting in a few years’ time.

Reflecting on the outcomes of the meeting, CCE said in a statement that it “welcomes these recommendations and is investigating new ways to collaborate and partner to drive water efficiency in our business”.

It added: “As a bottler, water is fundamental to our business. We have committed to establish a water sustainable operation and to minimise water impacts throughout our entire value chain.

“These are challenging targets and we welcome the opportunity to share and learn from the other businesses, NGOs and policymakers.”

Maxine Perella

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