By Dan Bena, Director of Sustainable Development, PepsiCo
That’s how often a child dies from a water-related illness. Think of how long it will take you to read this blog or sit in a meeting today…and then consider that 15-second statistic. Depressing, I know.
The good news is that today, only one billion people are without access to clean drinking water. That number has improved from five years ago. But, we have a very long way to go.
Many of the world’s governments have identified access to clean water as one of the key building blocks to ending global poverty. Access to safe water, in addition to being an explicit goal itself, is a fundamental prerequisite to the achievement of virtually all of the UN Millennium Development Goals. The global population is growing. Existing populations are also migrating, putting even more stress on the planet’s water supply.
But, more good news. Earlier this week, we celebrated World Water Day and focused on the importance and need for the sustainable management of fresh water. Sure, the focus is to help prevent children from dying, but it’s also to help them grow up to be healthy adults as part of thriving communities. And thriving communities are important for businesses to flourish long-term. That link, which isn’t always so explicit, is so simple, really.
At PepsiCo, water is fundamental to our ability to operate efficiently, so we take our responsibility to protect it seriously, every single day. Water stewardship is a central part of “Performance with Purpose”— our mission to deliver sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for people and our planet.
In 2010, we unveiled global water goals underpinned by our public support of water as a basic human right, and including our commitments to preserve water resources and promote world-class efficiency in our operations.
One of those commitments is to provide access to safe water to three million people in developing countries by 2015. As part of this, PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation have pledged more than $20 million to safe water and sanitation initiatives in developing countries since 2005. At the core of this, we’ve established strategic public-private partnerships with innovative organizations to have a positive impact on the water crisis.
Earlier this month the PepsiCo Foundation pledged $5 million to the Inter-American Development Bank’s AquaFund, which provides grants to facilitate investment in water and sanitation projects in Latin America. Among other projects, the grant will provide microcredit loans for safe water and improved sanitation projects, reaching approximately 500,000 people in the region by the end of 2015.
Through the PepsiCo Foundation, we focus on private sector solutions in collaboration with other remarkable partners, including:
- Columbia University Earth Institute’s Water Center, to change the way water is managed in India, Brazil and other areas;
- Water.org, innovating a sustainable marketplace of microloans for water and sanitation through the transformative WaterCredit program;
- The Safe Water Network, to mobilize the private sector to create sustainable, affordable market-based solutions for access to safe water;
- Save the Children, to incorporate water sanitation and hygiene education as a critical component to their school and health-based programs; and,
- The China Women’s Development Foundation, to make water available in the most water-scarce areas through the Water Cellars for Mothers Program, and working within communities on the importance of maintaining water quality.
PepsiCo has come a long way over the last decade, but we recognize we have much more work to do. Only by continuing to set ambitious goals for ourselves — goals that force us to rethink how we do business — will we continue to make steady progress.
At the same time, we know the longer-term implications of the water challenge reach beyond the walls of PepsiCo’s manufacturing facilities and beyond the fences that ring the farms of our agricultural partners. The world’s dwindling water supply is a global issue, and it requires comprehensive global solutions — and strong, long-term partnerships. We know we cannot solve the water crisis alone. PepsiCo is, however, committed to doing its part to address it. By setting an example for others to follow, we hope that our public commitments will attract our peers and partners in the global business community to move toward more responsible use of water.
To read PepsiCo’s “Water Stewardship: Good for Business. Good for Society” report, please visit http://www.pepsico.com/WaterReport