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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.

World Food Day 2014: on water and food

Water for irrigation: a falaj in the mountains of Oman

On the occasion of World Food Day 2014 I gave an interview on water and food. You can find it here.

Not only on World Food Day, we should remember that access to sufficient food (calories and proteins) and nutrition (micronutrients, balance, etc.) remains an issue for hundreds of millions of people in the world.

2014 Stockholm Water Prize for John Briscoe: laudatory speech by Margaret Catley-Carlson

Margaret Catley-Carlson speaking on behalf of The Stockholm Prize Nominating Committee. September 4, 2014

Today’s guest blog was sent to me by Maggie Catley-Carlson. No doubt, she is one of the people with the deepest knowledge of water issues I know, and with the best network in and beyond the water community.

That’s why she was exactly the right person to give the laudatory speech for John Briscoe at the 2014 Stockholm Water Prize ceremony. (See also my own post on this important recognition for John.)

Many thanks to Maggie for allowing me to post her speech on my blog.

Water management – part four: Global goals to focus local efforts

With Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria, the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning

Good management – also locally – is only possible if based on clearly defined and broadly agreed targets and priorities. This is why we need a single post-2015 Sustainable Economic and Social Development Goal for Water with four concrete targets responding to the major challenges outlined in earlier parts of this post. The discussion on the post-2015 Goals is ongoing. The proposals that I made on several occasions, need, if you agree with them, your support whenever and wherever possible:

Water management – part three: pricing and other cost-effective solutions to address overdraft

4,500 years of sustainable water management in Oman – can we learn from it?

We risk running out of water long before we run out of oil.

But the crisis can still be avoided. For this, water management and potential shortages must be looked at locally first - global averages are not relevant.

Given the nature of the problem, solutions to the water challenge are not possible company-by-company, along supply chains or linked to products (so-called “footprints”). The approach has to be watershed-based, comprehensive, fact-based and cost effective, rather than one based on ideas on one-fits-all global solutions. In the end - water is local.