In an extraordinary call to action, a group of chief executive officers representing some of the world’s largest corporations recently urged their business peers everywhere to take immediate action to address the emerging global water crisis.
The CEOs of six corporations – The Coca-Cola Company, Levi Strauss & Co., Läckeby Water Group, Nestlé S.A., SABMiller, and Suez – announced their call to action at the 2007 Global Compact Leaders Summit in Geneva, Switzerland, where they launched "The CEO Water Mandate" – a project designed to help companies better manage water use in their direct operations and throughout their supply chains.
"There is huge potential for the private sector to make a real, positive and lasting difference in protecting and preserving fresh-water resources," said E. Neville Isdell, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company. "We are pleased to come together with other business leaders to endorse the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate as another indicator of our desire to establish a truly water-sustainable business on a global scale".
According to the Human Development Report 2006, a water crisis is deepening around the world. More than 1 billion people lack clean water for drinking, and 2.6 billion lack sanitation. Water experts predict that the situation will worsen in many parts of the world in the coming decades as a result of factors including urbanization and population growth, increasing food production, changing consumption patterns, industrialization, pollution, and climate change.
As the six business leaders state in The CEO Water Mandate: "It is increasingly clear that lack of access to clean water and sanitation in many parts of the world causes great suffering in humanitarian, social, environmental, and economic terms and seriously undermines development goals. The private sector has an important stake in helping to address the water challenge faced by the world today".
The CEO Water Mandate asks companies to make progress in six areas: direct operations, supply chain and watershed management, collective action, public policy, community engagement, and transparency.
More specifically, endorsers of The CEO Water Mandate pledge to set water-use targets, assist suppliers with water-efficiency practices and partner with governments, policy makers and community groups to address water shortages and sanitation.
The CEO Water Mandate was developed in partnership with the UN Global Compact and the Government of Sweden. The six endorsing CEOs are: E. Neville Isdell, The Coca-Cola Company; John Anderson, Levi Strauss & Co.; Martin Hagbyhn, Läckeby Water Group; Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Nestlé S.A.; Graham Mackay, SABMiller; and Gérard Mestrallet, Suez. Both Mr. Isdell and Mr. Hagbyhn are attending the Global Compact Leaders Summit.