Global brewers team up to provide 100,000 people with clean water access

Of the 250 participating breweries

The pledge, co-ordinated by Scottish social enterprise Brewgooder, will see each brewery release a limited-edition, small-batch beer to mark World Water Day 2020, on 20 March.

Profits raised from the sales of the beers will go directly into a charity pot, and brewers will raise additional funding by hosting ‘Global Gathering’ events. Brewgooder estimates that each participating brewery will raise at least £500 through these channels, bringing the global total to £250,000+.

The funding will be used by Brewgooder to support its clean water projects throughout the 2020-2021 financial year.  These projects include well rehabilitations, new borehole construction, sanitation systems and water mapping.

Brewgooder’s clean water projects are currently located across Malawi and have, to date, positively impacted the lives of 65,000 residents. The organisation estimates that the Global Gathering campaign will enable a further 100,000 people in Malawi to access clean drinking water.

The brewers taking part in the initiative collectively represent 24 nations, including the US, Hong Kong and Australia. But the UK is best-represented among the cohort, with 150 brewers signed up, including BrewDog.

“The Global Gathering shows what the craft beer community is capable of when we collaborate and use our shared passion to make a positive impact – it’s the beginning of a worldwide movement,” Brewgooder founder Alan Mahon said.

“There are far too many people in developing countries who have their ambitions, dreams and potential limited by lack of access to a safe source of water. By providing clean, accessible water, we can help kids grow up healthier, stay in school longer and build better lives.”

World Water Day

On World Water Day 2019, the UN reiterated its assertation that more than one-third of the global population is currently based in water-stressed regions or nations.

Similarly, The World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that a quarter of the world’s population is based in areas affected by “extremely high” water stress.

The situation is only expected to be exacerbated by global megatrends such as population growth, urbanisation and temperature increase.

On a global scale, it seems that very little action is being driven by the private sector to alleviate or reverse this trend. CDP’s World Water Day 2019 report revealed that there has been a near 50% rise in the number of companies that have reported higher water use and withdrawals over the past three years. This was despite improvements in water efficiency investments just one year prior.

But several large brewers, dependent on water for their business, have shown ambition to take a leadership position on the issue.

Heineken, for example, has produced a dedicated water sustainability strategy called ‘Every Drop’ and deadlined at 2030. It commits Heineken to maximise water circularity in water-stressed areas; to treat 100% of its wastewater worldwide; and reduce average water usage from 3.2 hectolitres per hectolitre of production (hl/hl) to 2.8 hl/hl in water-stressed regions and 3.2 hl/hl on a global average – down from 3.5hl/hl.

Similarly, Carlsberg is working towards a 2030 “zero water waste” target after reducing its total water consumption by 12% between 2015 and 2018, while Diageo – the owner of Guinness – recorded a 44% improvement in water efficiency between 2009 and 2018, putting it in a position to update its already industry-leading Water Blueprint. The new framework is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation for All, and builds on its 2020 goal of replenishing the amount of water used in its final products across its water-stressed areas of operation.

UK-based brewers regarded as leaders in the sustainable water space include Glasgow-based Tennent’s and Southwald-based Adnams. Adnams won edie’s Sustainability Leaders Award for Water Management in 2019 after undertaking full water life-cycle analyses for all products and using this information to develop a context-based approach, taking in quality, quantity, location and timing of its water cycles.

Sarah George

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