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Water Challenge - a blog by Peter Brabeck-Letmathe


I hope this blog will create discussion about the important issue of water use and availability around the world.

Your comments and views are very important and I encourage you to help me build and develop the conversation.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

Chairman Nestlé SA

The 2014 Creating Shared Value Global Forum: Water

With Elhad As Sy, Secretary-General IFRC, Maria Cattaui (moderator) and Margaret Catley-Carlson on the panel

Creating Shared Value (CSV) begins with the understanding that for our business and our shareholders to prosper over the long term, the communities we serve must also prosper, through actions that substantially address a social or environmental challenge. At Nestlé, we focus on three areas - rural development, nutrition and last but not least, water. In all three areas our efforts are about concrete initiatives on our own and in partnerships, but obviously, public policy dialogue is also an essential part of the concept.

On an annual basis we invite stakeholders to stimulate thinking around how business can deliver on this concept of CSV. The last meeting of this series on 9 October 2014 was co-organised by Nestlé and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

I took part in the water session; below is the transcript of some of my remarks pointing to the urgency of this problem. If you would like to watch the full session it is available here.

Creating Shared Value - The Nestlé Prize rewards a water project

See more on the water-related discussions at the Global CSV Forum here.

The announcement of awarding a water project is a good occasion to invite your comments on the role of companies in society, on Corporate Social Responsibility, a concept others are using, and a more comprehensive approach that I prefer, Creating Shared Value.

Today we are meeting at our annual Global Creating Shared Value Forum in New Delhi, India. We are also announcing the winner and the two runners up of our 2012 Nestlé Prize in Creating Shared Value. Creating Shared Value means simultaneous value for the shareholders of companies and the societies where these companies operate. It is not an add-on, something company people think about in the evening after a busy day. It is a matter of how companies understand the way they do business, the way they act during the day, and the way they set up and evaluate projects initiated beyond their day-to-day business. And this is where the Nestlé Prize in Creating Shared Value fits in.

About bottled water

A 90-minute “documentary” on Nestlé’s water business recently went on air. It illustrated a whole spectrum of perceptions, misperceptions and allegations concerning this part of our business. Also one or two commentators on this blog have asked questions about water sold in bottles.

Now, this blog is not about bottled water, and it is neither meant as a smokescreen or an apology for the fact that we offer high-quality water to consumers – an offer they can then decide to accept or to turn down.

This blog is about the rapidly increasing overuse and, as a result, the shortage of freshwater where it is most needed, i.e., to grow food for a further increasing world population, to produce energy, and to supply households with water for all its uses. This is the most vital issue of our time, and in this big picture, bottled water is rather irrelevant. Let me illustrate this with some facts.