We cannot achieve critical and stretching targets for increasing water access on our own. Partnerships and joint action are a key part of delivering our commitment. As such, we also seek to work with other organisations on the water access challenge, often taking the lead as a member of the UN Global Compact’s CEO Mandate.
We are committed to helping achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal to reduce by half the proportion of people in Africa without access to water and adequate sanitation and are active members of UN and other initiatives aimed at initiatives designed to achieve this goal.
As a signatory of the UN Global Compact, Diageo has committed to provide clean drinking water to 1 million Africans each year through to 2015 – 8 million in total. Our chief executive Paul Walsh is a signatory of the CEO Water Mandate, which commits business leaders to take action in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices.
We recognise that the challenges in addressing water poverty in the communities in which we operate can only be addressed through collaboration with others. We are members of the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable, a coalition of beverage industry companies and supporting partners that work together on a variety of environmental and stewardship initiatives, including water conservation and resource protection.
In 2010, we hosted a series of multi-stakeholder roundtables in partnership with the International Business Leaders’ Forum to discuss how the private sector, government and other stakeholders could address the challenging topic of water scarcity. These were held across Africa (Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa) and the themes and outcomes of the roundtables were then discussed at the UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit in New York. Two major findings surfaced, including the need for:
- Strategic partnerships between businesses, to improve water supply and delivery in their respective markets
- Water business networks made up of businesses concerned about water issues, and committed to making inputs and monitoring water strategies.
Safe Water for Africa
Toward these goals, this year we announced a strategic partnership to provide sustainable access to safe drinking water in Africa with the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the Coca-Cola Foundation and WaterHealth International (WHI) to launch the Safe Water for Africa (SWA) initiative. We and our partners have committed over US$6 million in seed funding to deliver sustainable safe water access for communities across Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia in 2011, with new country programmes expected in 2012 and beyond. The SWA partnership is a private sector-led initiative based on the use of an innovative, but most importantly self-sustaining, model of water provision. WHI already installs, operates, and maintains decentralised water treatment facilities - WaterHealth Centres - throughout the developing world. Using a combination of technologies, these centres treat local water sources to produce water that meets World Health Organization standards. This is available for a nominal usage fee, either on site or pumped to additional distribution points. We and our partners will continue to work together to provide financing and co-ordinated support on the ground.