Editor's Note: This story is part of an editorial series featuring companies on CR Magazine's 20th annual 100 Best Corporate Citizens ranking, which recognizes outstanding environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosure and performance among the Russell 1,000 Index. You can follow the series here.
In the event you only think of the NFL when the topic of discussion is football, it’s important to remember that what Yanks call soccer is known to the rest of the world as football. And one football team, England’s Manchester City FC, which by some accounts is the world’s fifth most valuable football franchise, has recently been using its clout to raise awareness about water scarcity worldwide.
Six-time champion Manchester City’s partner on this front is Xylem, the U.S.-based water technology company that nets about $5 billion in revenues annually.
Earlier this year, the Premier League titan and Xylem launched the “Closer Than You Think” campaign, which seeks to boost awareness of the urgent water challenges among the millions of football fans worldwide.
According to UN data, as many as 3.6 billion people, or about half the global population, now live in areas that are subjected to water risk at least one month a year. By 2050, over 5 billion people could have to cope with water shortages due to factors including climate change, increased demand for this precious resource and polluted sources of drinking water.
The stubborn fact remains that as the world’s population and development surges, the natural cycle of precipitation, storage and evaporation can’t occur fast enough to keep up with demand.
To that end, this Xylem-Manchester City partnership is using multimedia to show fans how each nation on the planet is confronting more problems related to water scarcity. Topics include the lack of access to clean drinking water, among the many daily challenges citizens endure as climate volatility continues to wreak havoc on many of the world’s more vulnerable countries.
"From our first meeting, it was clear that City’s value system was aligned with Xylem’s. Our purpose as a company is to create both economic and social value. We do that every day by bringing solutions to market that solve water needs and challenges,” said Patrick Decker, President and CEO of Xylem. “To partner with a Club that is committed to bringing about positive social change through football is a natural fit. Working with Manchester City, we will extend our reach to their massive fan base.”
Some of that team’s fan base is in Bangalore (Bengaluru), India. The Silicon Valley of the Subcontinent has struggled with water scarcity in recent years, to the point that last year, the BBC suggested that the city of 11 million people could become the next Cape Town. The diversion of water from a nearby river and the mandating of rainwater harvesting contraptions on buildings hasn’t helped the rapidly-growing city secure long-term water supplies.
Bangalore is simply a microcosm of what could occur in India, as one study has suggested that 600 million Indians struggle with “acute water shortages” day-to-day.
One way in which this Xylem-Manchester City teamwork has delivered results is through a recent project in Bangalore. In February, Manchester City, Xylem and Planet Water Foundation (Xylem’s NGO partner) built water filtration towers at two primary schools. The three organizations also have worked together to deliver training on water sanitation and hygiene as well. Xylem says this project could benefit as many as 5,000 children this year.
The Bangalore project is a solid start, but these projects will have to scale up at an exponential rate. Considering the global water market will edge closer to a trillion-dollar market in the coming decade, that means more companies, and even sports franchises, have plenty of opportunities to showcase their social impact chops by ensuring the generations of tomorrow have clean water today.
Image credit: Xylem
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.