UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate
We are a founding signatory of the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate, a unique private-public initiative in which approximately 87 companies are working with environmental organisations and other stakeholders to support water disclosure, public policy engagement and the human right to water.
We participate in the Mandate’s working groups on these areas of engagement, and publish a public Communication on Progress every year; this report forms our 2012 Communication on Progress.
In 2012, we participated in and presented at CEO Water Mandate events held at World Water Forum in Marseille (11-13 March), the Corporate Sustainability Forum in Rio de Janeiro (16-18 June) and at Stockholm World Water Week (27-28 August). The Mandate launched a Collective Action Hub and published several documents related to its different work streams. We also contributed to the Water Disclosure Guidelines, whose public exposure draft was published in August.
Stockholm International Water Institute
We have a multi-year partnership with the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and continue to play an active role at the World Water Week in Stockholm. This annual event hosted by SIWI encourages the exchange of ideas and innovations among experts, practitioners and decision-makers. The 2012 World Water Week focused on water and food security, an area of high interest for us.
Our CEO Paul Bulcke delivered a keynote speech during the Prize Laureate’s Seminar in the presence of the King of Sweden and SIWI. He called for greater value to be placed on water to avert a global food crisis. Mr Bulcke cited water scarcity as one of the main reasons for increased tension between food supply and demand. He urged governments to take the lead in devising credible, cost-effective strategies to address water shortages, while stressing that business, civil society and other stakeholders must be prepared to take greater responsibility for the problem.
At the 2012 World Water Week, Nestlé China also presented its research work on post-harvest losses and water in milk farming. Our representatives participated and spoke in several other workshops and side events during the week.
Supporting the development of ISO 14046: Water Footprint Standard
A lack of global standards means that organisations around the world apply different methodologies to assess the impact of water use. We support internationally consistent measurement and management tools, processes and practices, and are helping to develop a new ISO 14046 Water Footprint Standard.
Based on a life-cycle approach, the standard will deliver principles, requirements and guidelines for assessing the water impact of products, processes and organisations. It will also explain how to take into account variations in water sources and outlets, and local environmental and socio-economic conditions. The standard is expected to be complete by 2014.
Alliance for Water Stewardship
As a participant in the International Standard Developing Committee (ISDC), we are helping to establish the voluntary certification programme of the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS). In future, this will allow water managers and users to demonstrate compliance with, or support for, the forthcoming International Water Stewardship Standard.
The first draft of the AWS International Water Stewardship Standard was released for public consultation in March 2012 during the World Water Forum in Marseilles. The new beta version of the AWS Standard will be available for field piloting in early 2013.
It is too early to comment on our own plans for implementing the standard, but initially we will use it as a self-assessment guide to help production sites improve our water stewardship practices. In the long run, we believe the standard will help to stimulate collective action around watershed management.
CDP Water Disclosure and Dow Jones Sustainability Index
Since we believe that transparent disclosure is vital to aid financial and policy decision-making, we participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) Water Disclosure Programme. We helped CDP extend their questionnaire to include water and were among the first companies to contribute to the CDP’s Water Disclosure report in 2010, 2011 and again in 2012. Our CDP response (pdf, 594 Kb) details how we assess, manage and respond to water-related risks in our operations and supply chain. We are currently working with CDP to provide input to their 2013 questionnaire.
In 2012, we also received the highest score among food producers in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index water-related risk section.
Water Footprint Network
We are also member of the Water Footprint Network, a non-profit organization concerned with increasing public awareness on how consumption of goods and services and production chains can relate to water use and have an impact on fresh-water systems. We are especially interested in their development of tools aimed at helping users better understand the impacts and risks related to water consumption and identify areas where to formulate responses towards a more sustainable water use.
The SAI Platform
Nestlé is a founding member of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, a non-profit organization to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, at precompetitive level and initiatives to support the development and implementation of sustainable agriculture practices involving the different stakeholders of the food chain.
Water is indeed one of the most critical cross cutting issues for all crops; the SAI Platform's Working Group on Water and Agriculture, chaired by Nestlé, was launched in 2007. Since then, the group developed Principles and Practices for the Sustainable Management of Water at Farm Level (pdf, 308 Kb) and a wide range of Technical Briefs and other material to better understand some of the related challenges and tools available to tackle them.
In May 2012, the SAI Platform celebrated its 10th Anniversary at the General Assembly held in Evian. Nestlé’s Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, invited as a keynote speaker, stated clearly that water use in agriculture is the number one issue for food security and sustainable business growth.
Working with partners to protect water quality
Nestlé Waters continue to work with a range of partners to protect watersheds and water quality. For example, Nestlé Waters is celebrating 20 years of collective action and a successful environmental initiative to protect the natural sources of three of its most popular mineral water brands in France. Please see the following ‘Agrivair case study – Watershed conservation and biodiversity protection’ for more details on this partnership (and the biodiversity section for details on biodiversity initiatives related to Agrivair). Another example is the Mill River project in Connecticut, USA.
Working to protect important water areas
Following an analysis carried out during 2011, with UNEP-WCMC to identify the factories that are within or adjacent to protected areas in 2012, Nestlé decided to take this a step further and identify those factories that are dependent on or could potentially impact protected areas and important water bodies.
We identified protected areas within 25 kilometres upstream of our factories that we are dependent upon for clean water provision, and protected areas that are within 25 kilometres downstream where any emissions from the factory could have a negative impact. We have also identified all RAMSAR sites that are downstream of our factories irrespective of the distance. The analysis thus identified 21 factories that are associated with ‘important water areas’.
We identified 21 factories is being associated with ‘important water areas’ and are now investigating these further to determine what interventions and activities we can and should take. For example, whilst we may be upstream of a protected area or RAMSAR site, the wastewater from our factories may be discharged to municipal treatment facilities. We intend to report further on this work in future years.