At Diageo we’re proud to have made good progress on our water ambitions for 2020 – for example 46% improved water efficiency and 100% water replenished. But at the close of the year we now look to the future and an ambition to raise the bar for us, our partners and businesses globally.
Our newly launched sustainability action plan 2030: Spirit of Progress addresses our key areas of impact on society and the environment, and water stewardship is front and centre – as you’d expect for a beverage company.
By 2030 we commit to using 30% less water per drink (40% in water stressed areas) and improving water quality. We’ll replenish more water than we directly use in all our water-stressed areas, the equivalent of over four billion litres of water. We’ll do that through more than 150 community water projects on five continents, such as planting trees and desilting dams, as well as improving water quality and access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
We will actively contribute to basin-level collective action in our most at risk basins – joining existing and helping establish new basin-wide, multi-stakeholder initiatives to address the broader systemic water risks in these basins. We will also certify our sites in these basins to the Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard, as independent certification of best practice water stewardship is key to credibility and influencing. And our influencing will go beyond standards as we will proactively engage with local and national governments on water policy, regulation and planning – recognising that water governance is often the greatest challenge in these basins.
At the core of our water ambition is the recognition that on the one hand we must leverage every sinew of our influence to persuade global leaders and decision makers to prioritise water globally, nationally and locally. And on the other hand, we know we can’t do this alone. Partnership, collaboration and collective action is fundamental to us achieving our ambition and most importantly, improving water security for all in support of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6).
As the world battles the two biggest crises facing humanity today – COVID-19 and climate change – we have joined leaders and partners in #WaterIsResilience. This Water Resilience Coalition and WaterAid initiative is a call for urgent and collective corporate water action, for which – alongside other global companies – we are vocal supporters. Through this cross-sector collaboration, coupled with WaterAid’s global water and hygiene expertise, a series of bespoke tools have been produced to support immediate supply chain response to COVID-19, and build long-term resilience to future crises. We encourage others to engage in #WaterIsResilience here.
And in our endeavour to accelerate and scale up action on SDG 6, we are excited to have recently announced a renewed five-year, multi-million-pound partnership with our long-term partner WaterAid. Working together over the past decade we’ve delivered WASH projects in our supply chains and surrounding communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia, and we’ve significantly dialled-up our ambition for the next five years.
Our next chapter aims to employ climate-resilient and sustainable technologies to reduce water scarcity risk because of climate change, prevent the current and future spread of infectious diseases, safeguard workers in our supply chains and empower female entrepreneurs through community-led water solutions.
Together we have and will continue to energetically champion the central role of WASH within corporate sustainability strategies and encourage increased private sector investment through collective action groups including the Water Resilience Coalition, CEO Water Mandate, and as the Chair and Vice Chair of WASH4Work, an initiative to mobilise business to improve access to WASH in the workplace, supply chains and surrounding communities.
Companies such as Diageo need to raise the bar on performance and expectation – adopting a forward thinking, ambitious approach which mirrors the urgency and ultimately delivers an overall positive water impact in our supply chains. We hope our new #SpiritofProgress strategy and partnership with WaterAid reflects this. But it should also encourage and inspire others and drive global recognition and prioritisation of the water crisis. Now, more than ever, all companies should take immediate action to propel water access to the top of their sustainability agenda.