Nestlé credits Matt Damon for giving water the ‘Bourne Ultimatum’ factor

Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe has praised Hollywood actor Matt Damon for speaking out on water scarcity issues at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting held last week in Davos, Switzerland.

Damon, who is founder of – a not-for-profit organisation committed to providing safe access to water in drought-stricken countries – received the forum’s Crystal Award at the event for his efforts in highlighting water scarcity.

Writing in his latest blog, Brabeck-Letmathe quoted at length a speech made by Damon in which the actor urged the world’s nations to rally together to address water security, which was “without doubt one of the greatest priorities of our time”.

Damon added that the key question for him was how world governments and businesses could “collectively sustain this energy beyond Davos and channel it into action”.

Reflecting on the actor’s words, Brabeck-Letmathe said that any action must be based on long-term thinking, especially in light of the fact that defining the UN’s post-2015 development agenda presents a daunting task for the nations involved.

“For me water stands at the forefront: one single water goal within the post-2015 framework, with four main targets,” he maintained.

Expanding on these targets, Brabeck-Letmathe said there should first be universal access to safe drinking water by 2025 at the latest, with a parallel focus on quality, moving from the improved water perspective to truly safe drinking water.

The provision of access to improved sanitation to at least 120 million additional people per year must also be accelerated, aiming for universal access before 2050, he added.

“Data on actual improvements achieved show that this is realistically possible; with further strengthened efforts political leaders might aim for even more ambitious targets.”

Brabeck-Letmathe said there should adequate treatment of all municipal and industrial wastewater prior to discharge by 2030 with best practice initiatives to reduce groundwater pollution by agricultural production.

“Finally, yet fundamentally, we must also address the water overdraft. Without changes in the way we are using water today, we risk shortfalls of up to 30% of global cereal production due to water scarcity by 2030,” he warned.

“The growing overdraft of freshwater also puts the supply of water for all other uses at risk. My proposed target, therefore, is that freshwater withdrawals for all uses must be brought into line with sustainable supply by 2030.”

Maxine Perella

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