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Levi Strauss, Pepsico, Unilever Urge Governments to Prioritize Water Security at RIO+20
June 21, 2012
A group of 45 chief executive officers, representing a diverse range of global companies and regions, called on governments attending the Rio+20 Earth Summit to make global water security a top priority.
The group released a communiqué carrying the names of each CEO and highlighting the urgency of the global water crisis. It calls on governments to step up their efforts and to work more actively with the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders.
In the communiqué, the endorsing companies also commit to expanding their water-management practices, which include actions such as: setting targets on water efficiency and waste-water management in factories and operations; working with suppliers to improve their water practices; and partnering with non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, governments and public authorities, investors, and other stakeholders on water-related projects and solutions.
The document outlines a range of public policy actions governments could undertake to make meaningful progress on water and to better leverage the resources and capabilities of the international business community. These include:
- Developing policies and incentives to improve water productivity and efficiency in all sectors, especially agriculture.
- Establishing fair and appropriate valuation of water for agriculture, industry, and people – while at the same time ensuring water and sanitation access in accord with the UN human right to safe water and sanitation.
- Increasing investment in infrastructure and developing policies to accelerate progress on access to, and ensuring efficient and reliable delivery of, water and sanitation services.
- Sharing policies, innovations, and tools among governments and other stakeholders in order to scale up good practice and to improve general efficacy over time.
- Working more actively with the business community, private finance and civil society.
Approximately 800 million people in the world lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.5 billion lack basic sanitation. Due to population growth, urbanization and industrialization trends and climate change, the United Nations estimates that two thirds of humanity will live in water-stressed regions by 2025.
All 45 chief executives are endorsers of the Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate, a business-focused initiative launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2007. The special communiqué was issued at the Global Compact-hosted Corporate Sustainability Forum in Rio de Janeiro, just days before the official opening of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20.
“This is a powerful statement by business leaders to governments everywhere – make water sustainability a priority,” said Gavin Power, Deputy Director the UN Global Compact, and Head of the CEO Water Mandate. “The global water crisis demands collective action – uniting business, the public sector, civil society, and other stakeholders. This Communiqué and the examples of action show that many businesses are ready to raise their game even further – urging that governments do the same. Hopefully, Rio+20 will help focus minds and lead to a new era in which water-aware governments take decisive action, working with business and other partners to achieve related sustainability goals in the years and decades ahead.”
The companies represented in the communiqué are: AB InBev, AkzoNobel, Allergan, Banco do Brasil, Bayer, Calvert Investments, Carlsberg Group, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Hellenic, De Beers Group, Diageo, Dow Chemical Company, DSM, Eskom, GDF SUEZ, GlaxoSmithKline, H&M, Heineken, Hainan Jinhai Pulp & Paper Company, Hindustan Construction Company, Indah Kiat Pulp& Paper; Pabrik Kertas Tjiwi Kimia, Levi Strauss & Co., Lontar Papyrus Pulp and Paper Industries, Merck, Molson Coors Brewing Company, Nedbank Group, Nestlé S.A., Netafim, Pepsico, Pernod Ricard, Pindo Deli Pulp and Paper Mills, Reed Elsevier, Royal Dutch Shell, Royal Philips Electronics, SABMiller, Saint-Gobain, Sasol, Sekem, Shanghai Baosteel Group, Stora Enso, Tata Steel, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, Veolia Water, Woolworths and Xstrata.
Earlier this week 24 major companies representing over $500 billion in combined revenues agreed at RIO+20 to incorporate ecosystems and biodiversity into their business strategies.
Bart King is a PR/marketing communications consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications.