Nestle water efforts recognized

by Josh Sosland
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STOCKHOLM — The Stockholm Water Institute has awarded its 2011 Stockholm Industry Water Award to Nestle S.A. Nestle was honored for its efforts to improve water management in its supply chain.

According to Nestle, the institute cited the Vevey, Switzerland-based company for improving water management and making its operations more efficient. For example, Nestle has reduced water use from more than 1.3 gallons per $1 of sales 10 years ago to 0.4 gallons per $1 today.

Nestle said the institute also credited the company’s work with suppliers, including growers. Nestle employs 1,000 agronomists and water experts the company said work directly with farmers “to help them reduce their water requirements, increase crop yields and minimize pollution.”

Nestle said its concern with water issues far predates the establishment of the SIWI award in 2000.

“Water has been an issue of concern and constructive action for Nestle for nearly 80 years,” the company said. “The first waste water treatment plant of the group was built in the early 1930s, and it is one of the three pillars of Nestle’s concept of creating shared value.”

The company also noted its prominent involvement in the 2030 Water Resources Group. The organization is chaired by Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Nestle chairman.

“The problem of fresh water shortage is increasing and urgently requires comprehensive solutions due to concern that within 20 years, water shortage will lead to huge shortfalls in staple food grown by farmers,” Nestle said.

The W.R.G. is offering analytical and practical tools to governments to help overcome water shortfalls and re-allocate water in the case of new demand. Nestle said projects are under way in Pakistan, South Africa, Jordan, Mexico and Mongolia.

The company said its own work to improve water efficiency is important but sought to keep these achievements in perspective.

“Ultimately, water is local,” the company said. “Solutions to shortages should be focused on watersheds, river basins and common underground aquifers.

“Increasingly, Nestle will fit its own efforts constructively into comprehensive strategies developed by governments, such as those based on the W.R.G. approach.”

Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe will receive the SIWI award at a ceremony in Stockholm Aug. 24.

“I am most grateful for this recognition,” Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe said. “We have identified water as the biggest challenge for future food security, and beyond that, for economic growth. This is probably the most prestigious award in this area for a company, and it will strongly encourage us to continue with our efforts.”

The award was created by the Stockholm Water Foundation in collaboration with the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

An award committee established by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences reviews submissions and selects the winner. The committee includes representatives of the Academy and of Global Water Partnership, International Water Association, Stockholm Water Foundation, World Business Council for Sustainable Development as well as water science academics.

The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority was the 2010 recipient of the award.

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