Access to safe, affordable and reliable water, sanitation and hygiene (known as WASH) are basic human rights.
As a company that operates globally, we can use our size and reach to help people in the agricultural communities that supply us - and the vulnerable communities that may surround them - to access clean water and sanitation.
Nestlé is committed to promoting these rights, which are inherently linked to leading healthy lives, eradicating poverty, building peaceful societies and maintaining people's dignity.
Improving access to clean water
Demonstrating a clear commitment
Our position on access to water, sanitation and hygiene is clear: wherever we operate, access to drinking water in the community must have priority over the activities of the company. That means the basic human rights of local people and the needs of its ecosystem must be met before water can be used for agricultural and industrial use. We call this water 'stewardship' - that is, having a sensible, sensitive and ethical approach to the use of and access to water.
To make sure our initiatives have the most positive impact, we involve local communities in potential changes to water in their area and audit every factory on the strength of these community relations every year. Crucially, we also directly invest in facilities to improve access to water. We measure the potential performance of any proposed water schemes against strict criteria, including environmental impact, accessibility, quality and affordability.
Our key actions
- Strengthen our risk assessment approach to, and prevention and mitigation of, WASH risks across Nestlé's value chain, in particular our agricultural supply chains
- Promote consistent adoption of WASH-related Human Rights Due Diligence across Nestlé's value chain, in particular our agricultural supply chains
- Engage and build capacity of our relevant staff on WASH risks and impacts
- Collaborate with peers and stakeholders to help address systemic WASH risks and develop common approaches and tools on access to WASH
- Identify government engagement opportunities to strengthen access to WASH
A coordinated, global approach to water
Our approach to how our workers and their communities access water, and how our operations respect and support the human rights to water and sanitation, is governed by a set of guidelines created by Nestlé in 2016. These practical procedures help our factories and suppliers distinguish between low-risk, medium-risk and high-risk markets, based on the proportion of people in their communities lacking access to clean water. They also give guidance to factories on how to assess their impact and contribution to alleviating any problems. These rules help us uphold UN guidance on the issue.
Involving local communities in our decisions
For some years Nestlé has used a precise working methodology to help us identify whom we should engage when we are considering new water, sanitation and hygiene schemes, whether they are planned for our operations, workers or their communities. This was updated in 2019 to help ensure that people in communities that have the most difficulty accessing clean water can play an active part in changes that can affect them.
Some of our actions
Safe drinking water in South America
In Colombia, Community Development Funds provided by Nespresso have been used to build water treatment plants on local aqueducts. This will provide more than 44 000 people in these two regions with access to clean, safe drinking water.
Installing clean water for people in Egypt
In Benha, Egypt, home to one of our bottling facilities, we worked with the community to provide clean, running water to a village of 27 000 people. By replacing an old water storage tank with a new, bigger one, improving the pumping efficiency of the existing well, and installing a new filtration system and expanded piping, people have clean water in their homes.
Clean water and sanitation in Pakistan
Pakistan is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, ranking fourth highest globally in terms of water use (with most going to agriculture) and it often faces acute water shortages. We make sure that our 7500+ employees benefit from clean drinking water, while six drinking water facilities provide access to clean and safe water for over 60 000 people in communities around our factories. With our water education program, part of Nestlé for Healthier Kids, we’ve also communicated the benefits of drinking more water to tens of thousands of children.