Water you need for survival is a human right some clarity

By Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

18 April 2013 See comments (82)

From time to time on the internet a video clip from a TV programme made in 2005 about food is posted in which I am talking about whether water is a human right.  It seems it has surfaced again, and people are using it to misrepresent my views on this important issue.

Let me be very clear about this again here on the blog, because I think the video clip, which took my views out of context, isn’t clear about the point I was trying to make.  The water you need for survival is a human right, and must be made available to everyone, wherever they are, even if they cannot afford to pay for it.

However I do also believe that water has a value. People using the water piped into their home to irrigate their lawn, or wash their car, should bear the cost of the infrastructure needed to supply it.

I have posted about this in more detail before: 'Water is a human right - but not a free good'. Please take a look at that post if you would like to explore the arguments more fully, and of course leave a comment if you would like to join the debate.

I also talked about this topic at our Creating Shared Value Forum in India last year, see the film below.

Thank you for visiting my blog which I hope will give you a more balanced picture of where I stand on this issue.


  1. TA @ n/a

    19 Apr 2013 - 19:56 (GMT)

    Mr. Brabeck,

    I am curious as to your views of desalination along with other technologies and the effects they may have on a potential "water crisis".

    Thank you,

  2. Miguel Angel (Mike) @ Pfizer

    23 Apr 2013 - 09:30 (GMT)

    Mr. Brabeck

    Yesterday night on Twitter was a tought night for Nestlé. A trending topic named #NestléTirano (Nestlé´s Tyranny) was posted and rapidly reached the first places on Latinamerican trends. In my country, México, many many people were angry about this video that is actually more than 5 years old and badly interpreted.
    I extremely recommend Nestlé to hire a community manager for your Twitter account in México, that only has 1,000 followers. There is a heavily hatred speech that is harming Nestlé's reputation in my country. I know sometimes people just follow others opinions without the correct information and the solution to that problem as a company is not to dissapear but to be in front of the line talking to all that hatred and trying to convince them with the real info and sincerely aproach.
    :) Nice web by the way.

  3. Sigfrido @ none

    24 Apr 2013 - 01:38 (GMT)

    Miguel Ángel, I'm also from Mexico, can you explain to me how were herr Privatisierung (herr Brabeck) words badly interpreted? to me it's very simple and there's no margin for misunderstanding, this guy and many more powerful people want to privatize water and everything else on this planet. Explain to me please, thank you!

  4. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Nestle

    29 Apr 2013 - 10:52 (GMT)

    Dear Sigfrido,
    This is from a video in 2005: I only ask whether “Privatisierung” should not be considered. In many comments afterwards, I never pushed for privatisation of water. I am not in favour of privatising public water supply – I am in favour of efficient management of all uses of water. If you are interested, please see my posts on the issue on the blog.
    By the way, the word “Menschenrecht” does not come up once in the video clip, “oeffentliches Recht” for me has a different meaning (in other comments translated as “free good”. Maybe you have seen the movie “lost in translation” – in this case, this is about it being “added in translation”.

  5. Peter Brabeck @ Nestlé

    20 Apr 2013 - 09:51 (GMT)

    Mr Taylor,
    Thanks for the comment and your question. Desalination is a solution, but it requires large amounts of energy and is, therefore, expensive. It can be financed to provide drinking water, but not grow our food. And you may have seen on my blog, 70% of freshwater goes into agriculture.
    Best regards,
    Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

  6. Niko @ LF

    20 Apr 2013 - 02:04 (GMT)

    So basically if I understand it right, unless you are going to died (survival water), you have to pay for your water? So are you going to sell the rain also? and the light? and the sun?.
    I understand that if we are lucky enough to open your tap and get running water, we have to pay for the services, pipes etc.... but A company, I mean a Corporation owing Water its a fascinating idea to make money, very cleaver indeed.

  7. Peter Brabeck @ Nestlé

    21 Apr 2013 - 10:30 (GMT)

    Dear Niko
    Thanks for the message and your question.
    In response, let me give you an example: in South Africa a family gets 6000 litres of month per free if they are unable to pay; for any additional water they withdraw they have to pay. This is not about commercial companies but publicly owned municipal water supply, and the rules were introduced by the ANC government. Nobody will say this solution is ideal, but it is pragmatic; these countries have to respond to so many challenges simultaneously and try do it the best way possible. And please do not mix this up with bottled water – we are not supplying bulk water for cooking, cleaning, personal hygiene, etc., we are not a municipal water supply company, amounts we are able to supply are much too small ( as a worldwide average it is 0.7 centilitres per capita per day, much less in South Africa, compared to a 200-400 litres of municipal water per capita per day).


  8. James Kessler @ US Bank

    20 Apr 2013 - 04:17 (GMT)

    Tell me, Mr. Brabeck, you are aware that...wait for it...we do pay for water right? We pay for the infrastructure and we pay for the usage of it. You're either not aware of that because you live in such a rich man's ivory tower..or what you're really bitching about is that we pay the government...and not rich businessmen like you for water.

    But tell me..how much water do you use watering your lawns, washing your cars and filling your pools? How much water does your company use in making its products? How much of your wealth have you used to build water treatment plants and desalinization plants?

    And how much in taxes does your company pay for the water it uses? Because somehow I suspect that the amount your company pays is far less than the water your company uses is worth.

    So, Mr. Brabeck, its time you and your company put your money where your mouth is. And no..we are not privatizing water. We are not putting it into the control of you and your fellow greedy ass businessmen. You and your ilk have long ago proven that you have no morality and no compassion for those who aren't uberrich like you. It's our water, Mr. Brabeck, hands off.

  9. Pavel Yovchev @ Holiday

    26 May 2013 - 10:58 (GMT)

    He doesn't want only to make water private, but to be monopolized. That's why the world is in such a bad situation nowadays.. CEOs think only about profit maximization, destroy quality and other ways... Water is a human right, as well as air. If he makes water private, no reason not make air private as well... I do believe in Karma, but that it's much more complicated than the way people understand it, and I don't know how this guy thinks he fits with nature... Or what are his believes? Sounds more like a satanist or a freemason...

  10. Peter Brabeck @ Nestlé

    21 Apr 2013 - 14:27 (GMT)

    Dear Mr Kessler,

    Thanks for your two comments; I hope you also had an opportunity to look at some of the other posts on my blog to see what my overall views are.

    First, yes we do pay for the right to bottle water, even though we are not using any public water infrastructure for the source water we put in bottles. And you are right, we use water in our food and beverage factories all over the world, but try to be as water efficient as possible; over the last 10 years we brought down freshwater withdrawals from 4.5 litres per USD of sales to 1.5 litres. Compare this, for instance, with chemicals, refineries or pulp and paper with several hundreds of litres per USD of sales (I hope you will not stop reading newspapers because of that).

    For our own water withdrawals: we continue with efforts to bring them further down.

    For taxes: you find details in our Annual Report.

    So, what about bottled water in general? It is a free choice, you are free to buy it or not. Maybe you buy from time to time some bottled beverage, I then fully respect your decision to prefer some bottled tap water full of artificial colours and sugar or artificial sweetener (sodas) or with fermented malt and hop added (beer). But you should also respect the choice of others preferring a healthier beverage on such occasions. We will continue to serve these people.

    Do we make a profit with bottled water: yes, we do. But the profit is not on the water, it results from an efficient service of bringing first-class, safe bottled water to the consumers whenever, wherever and however they need or want it. Your comments seem to indicate that profit is nothing but greed. Actually, more than 70% of Nestlé shares are in the hands of institutional investors, mostly pension funds. Companies generating profits are essential to make sure pensions can be paid in the future.

    Finally: are we privatising the water? Clearly not. First on public water supply: only a few percentage points of these companies are privately controlled, and Nestlé is not in that business at all (see the numbers in my response to Niko). My proposal is not to change ownership of the 95 percent of public water supply companies. My proposal – and the proposal of many others – is to manage these companies in a way that there is enough money generated to continuously renew the infrastructure so it will still work for our children, and enough to expand to those who do not have a tap at home.

    Best regards,
    Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

  11. James Kessler @ US Bank

    20 Apr 2013 - 04:18 (GMT)

    You can start, Mr. Brabeck, with getting your company out of the bottled water business. After all..it takes water to make all that plastic and you certainly wouldn't want to be seen making a profit off the water that other people need to drink to stay alive....right?

  12. Steve Peters @ Stratcon Singapore Pte Ltd

    20 Apr 2013 - 07:24 (GMT)

    Dear Mr Brabeck,
    Yes, this issue has raised its head again and for good reason.
    As the Chairman of one of the World's major food groups, you personally have tremendous influence and responsibility.
    I have written to your company to tell that I will not be buying Nestle and will be telling my friends and colleagues to do the same. I am disappointed that this has occurred.
    I would suggest to you that you are better placed than most people in the world to have a positive impact on the thinking of first world consumers and shareholders.
    I would applaud your personal involvement in dialogue and support in catalysing water and power projects for the developing world. I would suggest that you personally being involved and taking action would reverse the negative impacts of previous commentary.
    There is plenty to do - If nestle, its suppliers and management team gave 3 minutes a day to this issue, it would have an enormous impact.
    I hope you can do this, as so many of us are not powerful enough to!

  13. Peter Brabeck @ Nestlé

    21 Apr 2013 - 19:41 (GMT)

    Dear Steve,

    Many thanks for the encouragement, I need the kind of support you provide.

    On the suggestion: I am very much engaged personally to move the water issue further up the agenda of political leaders and to make things happen that are relevant for bringing water withdrawals back into line with sustainable supply (no make-believe).

    Actually, I am just returning home from Washington after speaking in a high-level meeting at the World Bank on the post-2015 UN Development Goals (back-to back with the Spring meetings of World Bank and IMF). I will report back on my blog Tuesday this week.

    Best regards,

  14. Stuart Wooster @ RBE

    20 Apr 2013 - 10:53 (GMT)

    I think you have it all wrong, how would you charge for a 'separate' supply of water. For one, would you say "You are only allowed X amount of litres of water per day for free deducted from your bill"?

    Does a poor family living on benefits, or on low income, have to pay extra water rates for the water used on growing their own fruit and veg to feed their family a healthy meal?

    As I see it, the current economy mindset is so far out of whack that CEOs like you will have everyone living in bio-domes charging us for everything we eat, drink, the air we breath and even when we need to use a flipping toilet.

    If what you say about water must apply then how do we expect growing economies/countries to thrive? Or is that just not on the agenda?

  15. Peter Brabeck @ Nestlé

    21 Apr 2013 - 19:18 (GMT)

    Dear Stuart, dear Richard,

    Many thanks for your comments, which I will answer together.

    My proposal is not about abstract theory, but about real-world politics.

    In South Africa, for instance, a family can use 6,000 litres for free every month if they are not able to pay. All the water companies are publicly owned, the rule for water for the poor was set by the ANC government. This is part of very coherent government policies credited with spurring the extension of potable water to close to 95% of the country’s population. Compare this with DR Congo, the most water-rich country on the continent, without such rules and, admittedly, a number of other problems: only 26% of the population have access to safe water (UNEP).

    What I meant to say is that we should learn from South Africa and others, discuss about the definition of a minimum amount per person and family that has to be provided for free if necessary, in order to develop water supply schemes that are able to serve all, not just the prosperous.

    Best regards,

  16. emy castelao @ N/A

    20 Apr 2013 - 17:15 (GMT)

    "The water you need for survival is a human right, and must be made available to everyone, wherever they are, even if they cannot afford to pay for it. " Does that means you have to buy human rights??

  17. richard stclair @ none

    20 Apr 2013 - 19:08 (GMT)

    so you are saying that the poor should have minimum amount of water decided by others that they need... god forbid they get thirsty on a hot day.. but rich should have as much water as they want from the money which they got through exploitation of the poor. I understand you completely.

  18. Peter Brabeck @ Nestlé

    21 Apr 2013 - 19:18 (GMT)

    Dear Stuart, dear Richard,

    Many thanks for your comments, which I will answer together.

    My proposal is not about abstract theory, but about real-world politics.

    In South Africa, for instance, a family can use 6,000 litres for free every month if they are not able to pay. All the water companies are publicly owned, the rule for water for the poor was set by the ANC government. This is part of very coherent government policies credited with spurring the extension of potable water to close to 95% of the country’s population. Compare this with DR Congo, the most water-rich country on the continent, without such rules and, admittedly, a number of other problems: only 26% of the population have access to safe water (UNEP).

    What I meant to say is that we should learn from South Africa and others, discuss about the definition of a minimum amount per person and family that has to be provided for free if necessary, in order to develop water supply schemes that are able to serve all, not just the prosperous.

    Best regards,

  19. Mary Anderson Dearing @ Panasonic

    20 Apr 2013 - 21:04 (GMT)

    I think we are being a little hard on Mr. Brabek. I think that he is thinking long term global strategy. And I think we need to think in terms of long term, and in terms of global. I had the experience of living in Richmond VA when the water levels in the reservoirs dropped so low that brown algae began to flourish in the public water supply. The water was treated, and potable. But they were not able to remove the odors. We used it for washing, and it was nearly stomach turning. Everyone had to rely on purchasing bottled water for drinking, cooking. A friend in McAllen TX told me a week ago that they are suffering from severely short supply of water, and have enough only because Mexico is paying back water that they 'borrowed' earlier. Normally they would be ending their rainy season now (April 2013), they should have just collected their water supply for the year. She tells me that there are two desalinization plants that were built, but the infrastructure - the pipes to move the water from the plants to the population - isn't in place. Because there hasn't been enough money yet to build that infrastructure. I think that Mr. Brabek is actually helping mankind, just by making comments that make all of start begin to think critically, strategically, about regional and global water supply. I think his job in this, in part.. is to throw ideas into the hopper. Good ones, bad ones... just throw in all the ideas we can. So that we can evaluate all of them, and choose the best ones to put into action.

  20. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Chairman

    22 Apr 2013 - 13:52 (GMT)

    Dear Mary,
    Many thanks for your comment and encouragement, I need the kind of support you provide.
    I am very much in favour of discussing different points of view and engaging in a thoughtful debate.

  21. crystal @ shiraz

    20 Apr 2013 - 23:13 (GMT)

    I dont understand how you are suggesting water.is not a basic human right? And might I suggest if you are walking around mourning as you stated, that perhaps that is a bi-product of having anything substancial in your life other then what your money can buy? I won't be purchasing any nestle products in the future. Please save your ridiulously rich views, your already selling our basic human right to water for ridiculously high prices in markets all over the world. Maybe its time to consider ways to bring it people who can't access it instead of take it from those of us can.

  22. Peter Brabeck @ Nestlé

    21 Apr 2013 - 19:01 (GMT)

    Dear Crystal,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Just in case you did not have the time to read my post: water is a human right. I just say: not all water we use, i.e., neither the water to fill a swimming pool, the water to water the lawn nor the water wash your car.

    And about privatisation: Less than 170 million people in developing and transition countries are served by private water operators within highly regulated public-private partnerships. http://www.afd.fr/webdav/shared/PUBLICATIONS/RECHERCHE/Scientifiques/Recherches/02-Recherches-VA.pdf
    This leaves 5,558 million served by publicly owned water supply companies. I am not suggesting that this must change, what really matters is that water supply schemes – whoever the owner might be – are managed in a way that there is enough money generated for maintenance and expansion to those who do not have a tap at home.
    And just to avoid misunderstandings: Nestlé is not a water supply company, others do that much better than we can. Actually, our bottled water is neither a competition nor an alternative for public water supply schemes, it is an alternative to sodas and beer in bottles.

    Best regards,

  23. Sofie @ nnone

    21 Apr 2013 - 01:04 (GMT)

    Peter Brabeck-Lethmate; If you go to a mental space where you think about the "value" of the most important thing we have on this planet, you have already passed the line where humanitarian thoughts stop. We must never ever have to PAY for WATER to a PRIVATE company. If this is about caring about people who lack resourses today, for getting clean water, if this is how you brainstorm about future watersupply, then I am very concerned about you. With a profit of over 11 billion swiss franc ( 1CHF=0,82EUR = 1,08 USD) last year, think INSTEAD of what Nestlé, and other highranking money making companys can do to clean all our freshwater supply. How much difference can YOU make?
    If water MUST ever be restrained, it would be to calculate usage per person/household, weather situations etc. AND NON-PROFIT.
    even if the thought would have been good (wich I dont believe it is) we all know where this would end. Money, Greed, and Monopoly. I am sad for the way Nestlé lost its face today.

    And I DO pay for my water usage today, every Litre of it, wich I drink, schower and wash my car with, its managed by the state here in sweden.
    But PRIVATICING, never!

  24. Rose Simone @ myself

    21 Apr 2013 - 07:01 (GMT)

    I do pay for water infrastructure, through my taxes. And the city that I live in does depend on well water, and so we have lawn watering restrictions in the summer time.

    But all of that is done through the government ... and poor people are not denied water just because they can't pay for it.

    That's the way it ought to be. You are using a very poor argument to shore up the idea that water ought to be privatized ... the water belongs to people, not corporations, and to the extent that water needs to be rationed, it ought to be done through the government.

    Corporations should not make a profit on water!!

  25. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Chairman

    22 Apr 2013 - 14:50 (GMT)

    Dear Rose,
    Many thanks for your comment. As mentioned in a previous comment, I do not believe that water should be privatised. There are about 170 million people in developing and transition countries that are served by private water operators within highly regulated public-private partnerships: www.afd.fr/.../02-Recherches-VA.pdf. This leaves about 5,558 million served by publicly owned water supply companies. I am not saying that this must change, but what really matters are that water supply schemes – whoever the owner might be – are managed in a way that there is enough money generated for maintenance and expansion to those who do not have a tap at home. At Nestlé, we are advocating better regulation to reduce waste and ensure everyone can access a clean safe supply: http://bit.ly/Water_projects

  26. Sadat Quayium @ Interspeed Marketing solutions LTD. Bangladesh

    21 Apr 2013 - 13:42 (GMT)

    Dear CEO , Nestle
    As u have mentioned in your reply to MR. TA, "70% of freshwater goes into agriculture." and as you have advocated for the economic value of water , my question is -what would happen if the farmers across the globe are supposed to buy water for irrigation and eventually the food price goes high?


    Sadat Quayium

  27. Peter Brabeck @ Nestlé

    21 Apr 2013 - 18:49 (GMT)

    Dear Sadat,
    I do not have a ready-made solution, but can refer to some learnings from farmer communities. One of these learnings is from Oman: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130313174444-230883806-water-not-a-free-good-the-aflaj-in-oman.
    Farmers there are not paying for the water to somebody else, but sell or rent out water to other farmers within the same watershed when, for one reason or another, they do not need it, or they sell to finance a more water-efficient irrigation. In that way, water gets a value. But no money from the farmer’s community in this watershed flows somewhere else.
    I said this before: the main point is not that people pay for the water to the state, but that water gets a value for those using it, to steer a very careful and efficient allocation. I am convinced that if we learn from these farmers in Oman, food prices would rather come down than go up.
    By the way, the Aflaj systems in Oman I am speaking about here are 4,500 years old, i.e., truly sustainable.

  28. Patrik Rosén @ N/A

    21 Apr 2013 - 13:43 (GMT)


    I am relived to hear that the video was taken out of context (like so much in the media), and have therefore removed and retracted my criticism of your company in social media outlets. Also i have gained a some respect for you and your company because of your timely and well thought out opinions on the matter.

    But there is another rumor spreading on the internet about Nestlé and Nigella sativa (fennel flower), and was wondering if you or your co-workers would like to shed some light on the matter? It seems hard to find good sources to back the petition.

    Hoping for a reply,
    Patrik Rosén - Uppsala

    You can find one of many petitions on the matter here: http://action.sumofus.org/a/nestle-nigella-sativa/4/3/?akid=1570.807110.tfy5ea&rd=1&sub=fwd&t=2

  29. Peter Brabeck @ Nestlé

    21 Apr 2013 - 19:38 (GMT)

    Dear Patrik,

    Thank you for your comment and thoughts.

    You can read our position on the topic of fennel flower here: http://www.nestle.com/aboutus/ask-nestle/answers/is-nestle-trying-to-patent-fennel-flower-nigella-sativa

    Best regards,
    Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

  30. Johan Lundin @ Utsocknes

    21 Apr 2013 - 14:31 (GMT)

    Sir, if you truly are concerned about the environment why don't you make the decision to stop selling bottled water?

  31. Peter Brabeck @ Nestlé

    21 Apr 2013 - 18:52 (GMT)

    Dear Mr Lundin,

    Many thanks for your comment and suggestion.

    Let me respond by looking at this from a consumer’s perspective: let us assume somebody is sitting on the stand watching a football game. It is hot and this person needs hydration. Along comes a vendor, this person refuses to buy bottled natural water (I fully respect such a decision) and buys a bottle of tap water mixed with artificial colours and large amounts of sugar (or maybe an artificial sweetener) instead. Will this choice improve the environment? Or the person buys a bottle of tap water combined with fermented barley and hop, i.e., beer. Even better for the environment?
    Maybe the person leaves the stand while the football match continues to go down to the toilet to drink from the tap? Maybe this is not very pleasant.

    What I want to say: we sell bottled water from natural springs as a choice to consumers, and we think that very often it is a healthy choice. And let me repeat it, if consumers do not want bottled water, we fully respect the choice.
    However if they want such water from time to time, you should also respect their wish to do so. We do, and will continue to sell bottled water.

    Probably you will not agree with me, but I nevertheless very much appreciate your participation in the discussion on my blog.

    Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

  32. Richard Hobbes @ Planet Earth

    21 Apr 2013 - 16:13 (GMT)

    Corporate infrastructure is not a human right. Corporations should be nationalised and run for the public benefit and not for private gain.

    Corporations that want an exemption should pay a realistic and fair price for all the political, natural, social, and economic externalities they profit from.

    Causing social, political, or personal harm should be made, *very* expensive - as should lying to the public for any reason whatsoever, including knowingly deceptive and manipulative advertising.

  33. Brenda Paterson @ Public Concern

    21 Apr 2013 - 23:20 (GMT)

    Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe,

    You claim that Nestle does not use public water infrastructure in the manufacturing of your bottled water products... But that's where your comment ends.

    You don't embellish further on how your company goes about accomplishing this. So allow me to finish that paragraph for you:

    Nestle brand corporations purchase natural water resources such as lakes, rivers, springs, etc, from municipalities offering a pretty penny to gain full control of those water resources. These decisions by townships are later regretted once they come to the realization that their naturally fed water resource (by way of the planet's natural hydrological cycle) is no longer theirs to use for any purpose whatsoever... not even for a day of fishing or swimming with their children.

    The public is fully aware of the never-ending legal battles worldwide that your company(s) face over these particular issues past, present, and no doubt, in the future.

    Water conservation ? Public usage of water totals around 10% globally according to most statistics. This means that the rest is used and/or wasted by corporations (such as yours) and agriculture. Agriculture serves the purpose of feeding the masses, one of importance I should think. Corporations serve the purpose of making profit in whatever it is they provide to the public (sometimes good, sometimes not-so-good). But the point being: why is your main focus and concern over water conservation aimed more toward public water usage when the real elephant in the room goes far beyond what the average Joe consumes ?

    And what about the petrochemical manufacturing processes involved in the making of your plastic bottles for your bottled water ? Are these corporations accountable ? Do you oversee their accountability regarding water conservation and the safety of their end product ?

    You attempt to prop up your corporation's ethics by way of criticizing bottled soda pop and beer as unhealthy choices, whereas by comparison, your bottling of water is far superior with regards to being "health conscious"... So tell me, Mr. Barbeck-Letmathe... What healthy purpose do Smarties, Nestle Crunch, Oreo, Hot Pockets, and Nesquik serve ?

    With all due respect sir, you are not being fully honest and translucent with the public which thereby tarnishes your attempts at making the Nestle corporation look like good samaritans.

    Hence the reason why these videos continue to resurface in the public domain.

    Water is NOT food stuffs (as you claim), no more so than the very air we breathe. Both fall under the category of life essentials (for ALL life on the planet) and thus, neither are there for the profiteering of private corporations in any way, shape, or form.

    You sir, are the one that needs to reanalyze his way of thinking, not us.

  34. muntasir ahmed @ hookology

    16 Sep 2013 - 23:09 (GMT)

    It's funny how he chooses certain posts to reply on. And when he does, they are calculated and politically correct. I have a strong feeling it's a moderator replying to these posts and not Mr Brabeck. Smh

  35. Göran Svensson @ -

    21 Apr 2013 - 23:50 (GMT)

    Hello Mr Brabeck

    Thank you for having a blogg.

    Water for drinking and irrigating purposes is of great value to all of us. Does Nestle have any research going on for converting salt-water to sweet water in great volumes? I think I understand what you mean - that a price for irrigating water will be balanced against the gain in prices for food on new areas being available for crops - the idea and concept then is of value. Water is fairly easily transported in piplines and of cause mych could also be gained if used unclean wastewater from cities could be cleaned and reused / recykled.

    A big high tech company like Nestle could make difference.

  36. Henric @ None

    22 Apr 2013 - 13:08 (GMT)

    Dear Peter,
    First of all, many thanks for taking the time to clarify your views on this matter. I do believe you have several valid arguments, and that people are way too quick in judging you.

    That said, I do believe that any privatization of water of this world, as a general and accepted trend, will without a doubt have a very negative impact on the lives of the less fortunate (economically speaking). It is unfortunately true, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In any scenario, where water is privatized, a ruling elite (call them corporations or states, makes no difference) will define how much water is enough for survival and for what use, water should be charged for. When the population of Earth increases, the value of water will increase as well, in our common struggle of survival. As of yet, there has been no corporation or nation state that has willingly acted against its own best interests - though some have in propaganda purposes justified their actions with the greater good.

    Privatization of water by any entity, will if set against the nature of survival, result in the ruling elite, saving their own lives, and the lives of their families/community before the "great unkown masses" that surround them. And even if faced with the horrors of innocent people dying of thirst around them, the most common human reaction, is unfortunately to filter it out, also a survival mechanism, when faced with problems that at the surface of our emotions, feel too overwhelming and impossible to solve. There is no human being alive, or corporate structure, that could manage any privatization or valuing of water without directly or indirectly promoting their own survival in the process. "I have to survive so that I can help others to survive" will be their first line of defense. Water is a valuable resource indeed, but only nature has the right to limit its use. I do understand your ideas, but I do also believe you are giving human beings too much credit. In the real world, people are dying everday because each life lost around us, is a reminder of our own mortality, making our survival instinct stronger. Anything else, sadly, goes against the human nature.

    Best of regards from Sweden

  37. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Chairman

    22 Apr 2013 - 14:46 (GMT)

    Dear Henric,
    Thanks for your comment.
    Just one point of clarification: I am not in favour of privatisation but I am in favour of efficient management of all uses of water. There are excellent stories of efficient management by publicly-owned water supply companies, such as for instance Phnom Penh (see post on my blog). But there are also large number of stories of inefficiency, with subsidised tapwater for the prosperous and expensive water for the poor, which I discussed in one of my previous posts.
    And there is no trend for the privatisation of public water supply, today less than 3% of the population in developing economies are being served by public-private partnerships.

  38. Henric @ None

    22 Apr 2013 - 16:25 (GMT)

    Thank you for your time and response :) This is a very important topic and I want to thank you for making it a public discussion. Keep up the good work!

    Best of regards / Henric

  39. Henric @ None

    22 Apr 2013 - 16:27 (GMT)

    My clarification: I meant that, if it should become a general and accepted trend, not that it is it today :)

  40. Ed P @ CDE

    23 Apr 2013 - 00:17 (GMT)

    Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe
    What worries me is who will own the water rights in the deep aquifers in the mid section of our country and in the parched lands of so many other countries? Many years (a few decades ago) the Hunt brothers and other megabuck entrepreneurs were buying up lots of 'desolate' land in the US to gain rights. As the supply inevitably gets tighter, will the gov't step in for national reasons? Smacks a bit of that James Bond movie, Quatum of Solace, set in Bolivia(?). Sorry to say I cannot say I feel secure in that this precious commodity will be properly handled, allocated and conserved either by the corporate sector (1/4ly profits are too important) or gov't (lobbyists, aka big business) rule the roost). We are screwing up but not waking up.

  41. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Chairman

    23 Apr 2013 - 16:33 (GMT)

    Dear Ed,
    Thanks for your comment – let me try to answer on two specific points. Firstly, I am not in favour of privatising public water supply – I am in favour of efficient management of all uses of water. Secondly, like you I am worried about people buying land, and the buyers getting the water that goes with it for free, because this water has no value. Most of the water withdrawn for human use goes into agriculture (70% of withdrawals, more than 90% of actual use). You do not have to go that far back, it is happening right now in Africa – to grow food for biofuels http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130402111906-230883806-investing-in-biofuels-buying-farmland-and-freshwater-usage-rights-in-africa?trk=mp-reader-card. This is something that worries me as much as you.
    To address the worry, we need transparency about such transaction, particularly the hidden water part, and a much better understanding of the real, big challenges related to water.
    Let me know what you think.

  42. Fredrik Hernegren @ me

    23 Apr 2013 - 13:21 (GMT)

    So if water production was to be more efficient (not private), how would it affect prizes on foods and goods?

    E.g producing one kg of red meat requires about 15 000 liters of water. How would it affect the prize of meat compared to for example grain (which require about 1500 liters of water per kg) ?

    Would water prizes affect the consumer prize of goods and foods much like the oil prize does today?

    Best regards,

  43. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Chairman

    23 Apr 2013 - 16:35 (GMT)

    Dear Fredrik,

    Thanks for your question.
    There is not one single solution, even less one invented by me. But there are things we can learn from. See for instance how farmers in Oman are doing it https://www.water-challenge.com/posts/Insights-from-antiquity-Oman-and-the-art-of-water-pricing .
    No money from these farmers is going somewhere else, they are not paying to government or somebody outside of their community, but selling and renting water among themselves in a watershed. Water gets a value! As a result they look for highest possible value per drop – with water efficiency overall and high value-added products. You find there some of the best dates in the world. And this system has been working for 4,500 years, so it is sustainable – both environmentally, socially and economically.


  44. de Boer @ n.a.

    23 Apr 2013 - 19:08 (GMT)

    Peter Brabeck-Letmather

    Fix the problem where it is don't break it somewhere else. The world population will always rise to a level where there are people that are poor, have not sufficient water or food. You won't change that, People die, that's nature. The only effect that you would have is, that you create more legislation, centralize more power, which is more vulnerable to corruption. Create directly more overhead costs and create a situation where some people determine how much right other people have on water. I think in a free society that is not the way to go.

    People in developed countries pay already for water and its infrastructure, and it works perfectly fine the way it is, no need to change a well working system.
    If you want to put you efforts in getting clean water to i.e. Africa, invest in solar distillation from your own company profits, ask for our support or a charity organisation for such a project, but do not try to make us.

    de Boer, The Netherlands

  45. David Woods @ David Woods Creative Services

    23 Apr 2013 - 19:11 (GMT)

    You mention the high cost of desalination. I understand that there are a number of projects that are now being run that are working towards a more sustainable method of achieving this particular goal. For example The Slingshot which was created by Dean Kamen who is now working with Coca Cola on this project, or the use of graphene to achieve the same results:

    Only two examples of work that are taking place in this particular field. The fight to make sure that water is available in a sustainable form for the future generations on this planet.

    I would like to now quote your comments from the video that has been circulating. Your UK office states that you have been misquoted, but looking at the video would suggest otherwise. I am relying on a translated version, so if I am not quoting you correctly I am sure you will be able to rectify that.

    "It's a question of whether we should privatise (water)"

    In the UK we have done that and it has been horrendous in terms of wastage of water and other problems that have come with this change.

    "the normal water supply for the population.

    Notice that you use the words normal water supply, not luxury water supply or needless water supply.

    "And there are two different opinions on the matter. The one opinion which I think is extreme is represented by the NGO's,who bang on...."

    I think you may well have meant who highlight the water shortage situation, rather than who bang on about it.

    "declaring water a public right."

    Public right - human right same thing or different Peter. Now you will probably say as you have in your blog that it is not a right to use water for a pool or for washing your car etc, but let's be Frank here. Most NGO's don't work with people who are carrying out those particular usages of water. You know very well that they work with the poorer communities and people of the world. That what they are talking about is water as a human right. Surely therefore if you agree with water as a human right you also agree with the NGO's.

    "This means that as a human being you should have a right to water."

    Do you see what you said there my dear sir. As a human being you have a right to water. You then show that you do not agree with this assertion.

    "That is an extreme solution."

    That is not a misquote. Sorry and all that but it just isn't. The words came directly from your own mouth (Translation standing and all that.) You say that human beings having water is an extreme solution if it is seen as a right.

    You then go on to say some say water should be seen as a market commodity, and that you yourself believe water should have a value placed on it. This is where I have to say I agree with you, as you then state that we need to know the value of water as a resource. Then we will have more of an understanding to provide the water needs of those who have no access. It would be nice to know how you envision this happening, in terms of making that supply more secure, but from the entries above you seem to be saying you have no idea. May I suggest the use of google and half an hour to an hour of research?

    You might then be able to find some way of fulfilling the "specific measures" that you mention.

    Yes, there are many "different possibilities there".

    You then go on to talk about how the social responsibility of a CEO is to maintain the profitability of the company. This will include of course the money that is paid out to shareholders as well. There is of course a concern that as your company sells water there could be a certain cynicism seen in the comments you have made regarding water as a human right.

    I now get into a bit of a quandry. I agree with you that we have more material goods in certain parts of the world. That we are living longer even in poorer areas, but this is not as clear cut as you seem to suggest. There are areas of the world where life expectancy is incredibly low, including areas for example such as Glasgow. Yes, the UK.

    The next bit of the video talks about mechanisation. Yep, I love gadgets as well, I am a very big fan of them. But there has to be a note of caution sounded. Though these machines replace mundane work, there is a need for new jobs to be created. Schumpeter's concept of Creative Destruction as you will know states that new industries will destroy old ones, or in this case ways of working.

    The tricky thing is that mechanisation destroys a certain grouping of jobs. Those that are undertaken by low skilled workers. If they are unable to grasp the opportunities of new work due to an inability to either gain the skills required or the cognitive comprehension then society has a tendency of throwing them on the scrap heap. They are treated as less than human. This is an area I would really like to hear your comments on, as to how you can see this particular problem being resolved.

    Where do your workers go when they have been replaced by machines?

    I had intended to only comment on the water issue, and hope you do not mind me wandering away from that. I have to compliment you on engaging in this particular debate as I am sure it can not be an easy position to be in.
    I am sure though that being in the powerful position you are in you will do your very best to move the agenda of the water poor forward in a positive way.
    Dave Woods

  46. Peter Brabeck @ Chairman

    26 Apr 2013 - 10:58 (GMT)

    Dear David,

    Many thanks for your comments and questions. Let me just respond to some of your queries. There is first an issue of very selective cutting by the author of the documentary (actually from 2005). When you watch carefully, you can see these cuts. Whenever I added something to clarify a sentence that may sound provocative, it was cut out.

    On your specific question: "It's a question of whether we should privatise (water)". You may remember, I started with a statement on water for agriculture. Private water usage rights for irrigation have been a fact for thousands of years (see, for instance Aflaj in Oman http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02508069608686492 ), and use has been sustainable. So, I think you can ask the question also for household supply. Since my interview in 2005, I further looked into the issue, and I agree with your comment on privatised municipal water. It works in some places, in other places it works less good. I did write about the highly efficient water supply owned by the state in Phnom Penh (one was published a year ago http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/city-water-for-all ), and I did write about the 30% leakage losses in privatized London water supply (I could not find this one in my files, but I know I did).

    Normal water supply: this is the average 200-400 litres per capita per day supplied to households.

    Public right – human right: I explicitly did not use the word “Oeffentliches Recht” and not “Menschenrecht” (you won’t hear that word in the clip), because I wanted to say something different. My worry, since we are running out of water, is that everybody thinks he has an unlimited right to water, whether there is enough for everybody or not. I am not a lawyer, so in hindsight “oeffentliches Gut” would have been a better expression. Again you find my views that differentiate and explain much better what my opinions are than what comes out from these shortened extracts in the “documentary”, for instance https://www.water-challenge.com/posts/Water-is-a-human-right-–-but-not-a-free-good.aspx

    Finally, on NGOs: I talked about “some” of them. You may agree that some groups located in the North may attack you when you suggest that people should pay for the water (and in the interview, at the end of the water part, I refer to the need for solutions for those who cannot pay), because subsidised municipal water, allegedly to help to poor, contributes to a situation where the poor have to pay a multiple to street vendors (UN HABITAT http://books.google.com/books?id=LHF74ghM0cYC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false ). At the same time I have great respect for those NGOs working in developing economies on water and other issues, and in many instances we are cooperating with such NGOs for a better water supply and sanitation (please see on our nestle.com website: http://www.nestle.com/csv/water/community-engagement).


  47. Dragan @ Ledsmania

    23 Apr 2013 - 23:54 (GMT)

    Dear Peter,
    I was shocked to see the “water issue” clip on the YouTube, I have put you in my mind immediately in the filthy rich, no morals, human trash bucket.
    But after I thought about it and read you comments and arguments, you are thinking clearly and people like you like in the ancient Greece and Rome had all the time and wealth to devote to greater problems, and solve them, I don’t mean it bad, some Sheppard in Tuscany has the time too, but is not wealthy so it can’t bother.
    Water is issue we should be busy with at all levels and all classes of society, without it we are gone as humans and our dear animals too.
    What still does bother me is that you admire on the end of that clip, factory somewhere, Japan I think, robotized and almost human less, and how do you employ 275.000 people? Remote working from home.
    Anyway it is not danger for us from NESTLE but from our own waste, chemicals we use daily and bad food and medicine we stuff our self with.
    Not me though, I even eat my own chicken eggs and veggies and meat. Sorry had to mention that, I love my own food and I know what I eat.
    Kind regards
    Dragan from Belgium

  48. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Chairman

    24 Apr 2013 - 11:29 (GMT)

    Dear Dragan,
    Thanks for your comment. It is good that you are in a privileged position where you can eat only food you grow yourself. But remember, there is an increasing number of cities of 10 million, and even of 25 million and more. Somebody has to make sure food gets to them from the farm safely, in good quality, and with as little waste as possible on the way from farm to fork.
    On the employees: we have 339,000 employees, working in our factories and offices. But you will not find them doing the repetitive things a machine can do; and for some products we want the production rooms with as little people as possible for reasons of hygiene; this is a much better way to have safe products than adding chemicals.
    Best regards,

  49. Gustav Bergström @ Sweden

    24 Apr 2013 - 00:12 (GMT)

    Though I might not agree with your opinions, I just want to say that I find your engagement among the commentaries with well articulated and polite answers very admiring. I find it honorable that you use some of your precious time to answer comments from the common man. I think it's a good strategy that pays off in the long run.

    And for water like everything else that is essential but expensive, I believe it's our obligation as fellow citizens to pay for those who cannot afford it, but that doesn't mean it's free for everyone. Though my belief is that such important institutions like water distribution and sewage treatment, electricity distribution, and possibly railroads needs to be owned by everyone, ie the government.

    Bottled water, on the other hand, you can and should sell privately :). If we would find it to be environmentally questionable we could put taxation on it, ie sell to you the product of clean air :).
    I was linked here from a Swedish newspaper.

  50. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Chairman

    24 Apr 2013 - 11:27 (GMT)

    Thanks for your comment Gustav. You probably agree with me on more things than you think. I was never in favour of privatisation of water supply, it is about efficient management of the schemes. As somebody from Sweden you no doubt understand German – the word “Privatisierung” does not come up once in the 2005 interview, it was “added in translation” by somebody else.
    Water is a very important issue, it needs careful attention and thorough discussion. Maybe this ongoing campaign is actually helping, not hindering my efforts to get everyone to sit up and take notice about the real issues, the water that is actually made available to the poor rather than declarations that it should be, the water needed to grow our food, and the overall balance of overuse of water – today already exceeding sustainable supply by 10%, and with no change in the way we use – or rather waste that water expected to grow to 60% by 2030. By the way, you mention bottled water at the end. It is neither part of the problem (in our case it is 0.0009% of all water withdrawals for human use), nor will it be part of the solution. This is about an issue of much bigger dimensions.
    Best regards,

  51. Gerald Aboud @ Starlite Group

    24 Apr 2013 - 07:21 (GMT)

    You said "The water you need for survival is a human right". I believe you meant to say we ;).

  52. VEER @ http://www.waterpurificationplus.com/

    24 Apr 2013 - 11:21 (GMT)

    Without water life is not possible on our planet even 75 % water covering to the earth but hole not good .Only 3 water for drink available.

  53. Val Ruhaylo @ Individual

    25 Apr 2013 - 03:13 (GMT)

    Very interesting comments about city population, not adding chemicals as well as bottled water percentages, etc.

    In regards to water: I don't understand why you are dismissing how much water is being bottled and sold when Nestle keeps applying for permits and building bottling plants all over United States, and number of other countries. You are pumping millions if not billions of gallons of water a day around the globe - against peoples wishes, compromising natural resources and habitats for plants and animals. You create huge carbon foot print by processing and transporting it to numerous destinations around the world. Do you add fluoride as well as any other chemicals to it before supplying to consumers? You profit from it, but at the same time you use such words as: "water you need for survival and human right" in the same sentence... It's funny but also sounds like a conspiracy theory, which are quite popular now a days, you are on the board of Water Resources Group and you pump and sell water and keep adding pumping stations as we speak. Are you already engaged in lobbying various governments of the world to give you/nestle exclusive rights to pump and bottle our human right - water, because of your size, experience and current world coverage? And once you get that, what happens then – who controls our water supply, same person that will be distributing our daily dose of “human right”. Just another corporate take over – just like any other that is under Nestle's belt.

    Should we talk about Genetically Modified Organisms, or Chemical substitutes you use in your food products whether for human or animal consumption such as Purina's animal food with GMO Corn containing Round Up or PGPR in your chocolates to cut the cost and quality of the product. I guess this section also includes your baby formulas with chemical substitutes for babies from birth and up...

    By the way, just in case you are not aware, there is a huge movement in the cities across the globe, to grow own food. We all have to be creative, but at least we know most of what we are eating. I guess people like myself are getting tired of being fooled into buying your “Soylent Green” with additional food coloring and natural “chemical” flavor to full the taste, smell and mind.
    Profit all the way... :-)

  54. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Chairman

    25 Apr 2013 - 14:38 (GMT)

    Dear Val,

    Thanks for your comment. You address many points. Just two brief reactions, the first one on bottled water: I am quite sure that once in a while you were glad to find and drink bottled water; you needed hydration, no safe water tap in sight, and you did not want to drink bottled water with lots of sugar, flavours and colours (sodas) or with cereals fermented to alcohol (beer). By the way, I wonder whether you think that bottled tap water with all these additions is better for the environment than bottled natural water from a source (there are very strict regulations, no additives are allowed). So we provide such high-quality water from sources as a choice for consumers; you do not have to buy it. And on sources: in very few of them there is opposition. If this is the case, we discuss with all stakeholders. We would never construct a bottling plant in a place where a majority of the population is in opposition. If, at the end, a very vocal minority, does not agree with the majority and continues campaigning, this is something that we have to live with.
    Once we start bottling, we have programmes to protect the catchment area (see for instance http://www.worldwaterweek.org/documents/WWW_PDF/2008/thursday/K22_23/agrivair_pres_for_WWW_Stockholm_August_21_2008.pdf), and since we are only withdrawing a small part of the water from an aquifer, the whole population shares the benefits of our efforts for improved water quality.
    And again on the volumes: our water withdrawals for bottling represent only 0.009% of total water withdrawals for human use. Even if we were able to increase, say to 0.01%, this is still very far from what you fear as a company “controlling water supply” for mankind.

    A second point, you mention “Soylent Green”: most of my efforts (please read also some other posts on my blog) and those of the Water Resources Group are exactly to avoid a possible food crisis. As you may know 70% of all water withdrawn goes to farms to grow food. If we continue using freshwater the way we do today, water shortage will lead to shortfalls in cereal production of up to 30% by 2030 (Soylent Green refers to 2022), shortfalls not because of climate change, but because of water overuse, drying lakes and rivers, and rapidly falling water tables of the underground aquifer reservoirs. If you have concrete ideas how to avoid this, I would appreciate further feedback from you.

    Best regards,

  55. Sarah @ N/A

    26 Apr 2013 - 04:45 (GMT)

    Dear Peter
    I was interested in reading your reply to Dave Woods, as he raised the very same issues which I wished to see addressed. But you have not replied ... Was he not polite enough? I agree that addressing your direct quotes, when you claim to have been misquoted may be time consuming- for your PR dept at least.
    Kind regards
    Sarah (who likes to bang on about human rights from time to time)

  56. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Chairman

    26 Apr 2013 - 10:18 (GMT)

    Dear Sarah,
    Thanks for your question – I tried to react to as many questions as possible, but could not do all of them. Dave Woods has been very polite, I will try to answer some more of his questions, you are right it is worth it. But apologies if I cannot always be exhaustive.
    Best regards,

  57. Kwame @ just a peasant in today's world

    26 Apr 2013 - 14:04 (GMT)

    Life is clock and the timing of thing only happen at a precise moment and at that particular point in time. The remarks about water privatisation, whether mean or not comes at a time when other major players in the world are talking about monopoly of man’s survival includes food, water and air, which man (who controls the multinational companies)has over the years claimed his they’re right for the benefit of mankind, likewise individual countries claim the rights of what govern.
    Maybe the precise time has come for man and the whole world to take stock and analyse what and where have we gone wrong, for nobody can really agree man has got it right.
    Monsanto and other large Bio, Agro, Pharmaceutical are claiming the right to seeds probably later claim the same for all plants, farmers the world over must pay royalty for growing them. They also want to kill people through GMO, medicines, they say there’s too many people anyway.
    We also have the chemtrials, which is polluting the air.
    Why do you people, who are the minority, bamboozle the rest of the world. Without asking or telling people what’s going on.
    I believe man as gone way over the top, we have entered a point of no return, there are many things man as delved into and produced items so powerful it could wipe all forms of life off the planet, and we don’t have any antidote. Do we really CARE?
    You people, (I refer to the controllers the minority) live on balance sheets, walk 10 feet off the ground, you’re the biggest wasters, polluters, killers. Life is simple, we should all enjoy, not suffer.
    If the Global water companies took the issue seriously enough, the issue could be resolve, if they produced quality water profits would enable them to reach everyone, instead of profits going to the bottled water companies, after all it’s the same water they are bottling.
    We have wasted water more so in the last 120 years, due to development of industrial and housing estates, where water simple goes down the drain.
    The problem will only be resolve by practical and common sense methods, academic education doesn't hold the key, maybe that’s why where in the mess today, common sense and the ability to be practical can’t be taught or get and you don’t get a degree in it.
    So maybe your article has had to resurface along with the other issues of today. The only way we can move forward is as one, as the CEO and a major player in the world could open your colleagues eyes and changes may occur. Remember we come with nowt, we go with nowt, but leave a mess for others to live with.

  58. Leialoha Prentiss @ Kailua Mercantile, dba Kailua Yacht Club

    26 Apr 2013 - 20:14 (GMT)

    Mr. Brabeck:

    Have you seen the movie "Avatar?" Your replies are sophisticated, polished, smooth and altogether carefully crafted. As I reside on a tropical island in the Pacific with limited natural reserves I am keenly aware of issues like water rights, sewage disposal and sustainability.
    Suggesting, in your simplest reply, that plastic bottles of water are anything more than a convenience item is self serving at the least. Mining fresh water for sale as a retail commodity is at it's core immoral by today's standards. Conservation is the answer.....Not supporting Nestlé's bottom line.

  59. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Nestlé

    29 Apr 2013 - 16:25 (GMT)

    Dear Ms Prentiss,

    Thanks for your message and flattering words about my answers. On your question: no, I have not seen Avatar. I am not much of a moviegoer and do not watch TV at all; I prefer having discussions like the one on my blog. But I think I know what the movie is about.

    If my words sound carefully crafted, perhaps it's just because I speak about this issue so often. I attend a lot of events where I talk about water shortage, because I am really concerned about the risk that in a not so distant future it will lead to massive shortfalls in global cereal production. It would be great if you could come to one of these events. They are always followed by a discussion where everyone has the opportunity to put forward their comments.

    You could also take a look at this interview I gave just before a speech I made last year: http://www.nestle.com/aboutus/mediavideos/Peter-Brabeck-IMD It is less polished, rather improvised (unprepared answers tend to be a bit longer) and represents my views without editing.

    On bottled water: I am quite sure that in your life you were from time to time in a situation when you were quite glad to have bottled water available. Making such water available to people who want to have this choice is not immoral. But I don’t want to make this too long, you find more about my views on this topic elsewhere on my blog.

    Again, thanks for your interest. I hope one day we may be able to discuss this subject the old-fashioned way, face-to-face.

    Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

  60. LQuinn @ LQ Consulting Inc.

    27 Apr 2013 - 10:54 (GMT)

    Sir, where is all this 'free water' you're talking about? I paid a water bill last month. Water teatment and distribution is NOT free as you say, it is paid for in developed nations through taxes and through monthly payments to a government run water company ...like Ontario Hydro in Canada for instance.

    You saying that your argument is actually about 'efficient use' and 'stewardship' of water resources seems to be classic marketing repositioning: what you're actually saying is people should be allowed a bare minimum decided by...some authority... and anything more should be charged by a corporation and this is somehow optimal. How exactly does this guarantee any efficient use of or stewardship of water? Under that model no individual is prevented from using more than they need (according to whom exactly?) they would just have to pay a corporation for doing so. The only barrier to waste in your proposed model would be poverty! I could waste tens of thousands of litres as long as I pay...Nestle?! I'd rather pay the government-owned company for that privilege- at least I have some stake in that as a voter and as a citizen versus, say, Nestle.

    Since when were the poor (the only people your model would limit water access for) identified as the biggest water wasters? Why go after individuals' water consumption at all? Why not start with making industrial use of water more efficient and levying a higher rate on large corporations consuming water?

    How about this: as long as water consumption is not 'for profit' in any way it should be FREE...but if you are going to make a profit on re-selling or using it as part of manufacturing process you should pay a very heavy tax on that consumption since it's such a precious resource?

    Your proposed model is really a way-paver for corporations to gain an unfair stake in a public resource. No part of the water supply is 'superfluous' and therefore should be owned by corporations! Consumption thereof is a matter of public policy, to be decided on by democratically elected governments not by the profit-motivated private sector.

  61. Peter @ Orange

    29 Apr 2013 - 00:01 (GMT)

    Dear Mr. Brabeck,

    it is clearly, that this is a set-up page to try improve the Nestle image, not just because of the water issue, which is really a shame but because of the whole company image...anyway would like to know how many of the pros comments are written by your Nestle "Internet bloggers"

    The old logo, Nestle - good food, good life really lacks as Nestle produces, or "optimises" many products as Nestle constantly changes many ingredients for some cheap and many times dangerous ingredients.

    Yes, the goal is clear - to maintain or raise the profit margin, even if the product price is not raising...or ideally raise the margin by changing the ingredients and also raise the price...and also offer low cost food with high profit margin.

    Maybe you are the XY biggest company in the world...but I wouldnt definitely shake hands with you

    PS: Mr. L, Quinn - one of the best comments on this site

  62. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Nestlé

    28 Apr 2013 - 10:13 (GMT)

    Dear L. Quinn,

    Thanks for your comment and question. As you may know, my main concern is about the use of water for agriculture, which accounts for 70% of all water withdrawn for human use worldwide.

    Rather than starting with a negative story, let me mention a positive one: the Aflaj irrigation schemes in Oman. One of my earlier posts is about it, but you may prefer to look for more detail in sources of your own preference. The main points: the cost for infrastructure is covered by the farmer-shareholders of the scheme (often with their own work), everybody has free access for drinking water and personal hygiene, but then water usage rights become property of farmers within the village, rights that are inherited, and rights that can be sold or rented out. This means, water gets a value. I have nowhere seen a more sustainable water use – and climatic conditions there are not easy. I know there is something similar in South Alberta, probably not as sophisticated as in Oman, and I am not aware of many more examples of a comparable nature.

    Instead, one reads about electricity for pumping up irrigation water that is provided for free. Let me quote one example presented by Aditi Mukherji, a senior researcher at the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka. “Several major Indian states - Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh - all provide farmers with free electricity. Unfortunately, these also happen to be the same states that face threatening levels of groundwater depletion.” You can read her article in full here: http://wle.cgiar.org/blogs/2012/07/18/electricity-and-groundwater-if-you-cant-price-ration-it/

    Finally, on tapwater: you may already know that research is being done on keeping water prices lower than the cost for the pipes, for example by UN Habitat: http://www.un-habitat.org/pmss/listItemDetails.aspx?publicationID=1150

    Again, you may not be easily convinced by what I am writing on my blog, but maybe you would agree with what Brian Richter from The Nature Conservancy says in National Geographic about the high cost of free water: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/08/29/the-high-costs-of-free-water/

    For orders of magnitude: according to the OECD publication ‘Infrastructure to 2030 (Volume 2): Mapping Policy for Electricity, Water and Transport’ (http://www.oecd.org/futures/infrastructureto2030/infrastructureto2030volume2mappingpolicyforelectricitywaterandtransport.htm) in some 50 major economies of the world, there is a need for USD 1040 annually between 2007 and 2025 for maintenance of water supply and waste water treatment. What is actually available and invested is only USD 580 billion per year, mostly because of too low water tariffs. This gap of USD 460 billion in spending for municipal water systems is another big challenge we will have to respond to.

    Apologies for a somewhat lengthy answer, but you raised an important question.

    Best regards
    Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

  63. Michael Patrick @ Fun Sized Comics

    27 Apr 2013 - 13:46 (GMT)

    I think one point that hasn't been mentioned yet, is the fact that to get people's attention about any issue that potentially will affect us all, you HAVE to be alarmist. If the creator of the edited video made it any other way, just hinting that a chairman of Nestle had made some interesting comments worth looking at and thinking about it would not have been as widespread and all over everybody's Facebook page in a game of all caps internet phone. But this is, unfortunately the only way to get people to care (or at least complain online) about whats going on around them. Shortening, editing and molding an idea can possibly deceive, or on the other hand, call attention to a real issue that otherwise would have slipped through the cracks unnoticed.

    In the end, this sort of thing has a silver lining of keeping large corporations aware of everything they say and do at the risk of the volatility of the internet. The real question is, if something else comes up down the line, that is really serious business, would Americans (or anybody else) really follow through with action and demand change in the form of brand boycotts that would get real attention? or are angry message boards and scary Facebook posts the end of the line?

    Like a few people have mentioned, the responses from Peter Brabeck are definitely a huge factor in how we all see Nestle from "down here" and are appreciated. (well enough to keep my Nespresso coming in the mail at least)

  64. Mr. Scott W. @ N/A

    28 Apr 2013 - 19:34 (GMT)

    It's so crazy how people seem so distracted from the merits of what this man is saying. If Obama came out and said we need to try to make sure people aren't wasteful with water in order to ensure everyone in the world has access to clean water, most of the people on this message board would be applauding wholeheartedly. The same people have labeled this CEO as an evil greedy person so no matter what he says at this point they will spin it to try to make him look bad.

    Further, the selling of the Nestle bottled water being a good or bad thing is completely separate from this issue. Consumers want bottled water and will pay for it regardless of it is coming from Nestle, Coca Cola, Mom and Pop, or Joe Schmo. This is not the issue at hand. The issue is much more about trying to help regulate water usage in order to make sure excessive use by one group doesn't mean the needs of another group aren't meant. Think of when we have droughts in America and people are put on voluntary water restrictions- next thing you know they become mandatory because people overuse the water, acting in self-interest instead of with the group in mind.

    I'm pretty adamantly opposed to big business, but I prefer to handle it in a sensible, pragmatic way as opposed to just jumping on Twitter bandwagons and being educated by memes...

    Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe, or the PR team doing the typing, I applaud your efforts and appreciate the distance to which you are willing to go to try to explain your real stance on this issue. If indeed there is something more sinister at hand, I wish I could see it and call you out- but honestly, this idea of unifying as a group to talk about how to handle a global problem only makes sense. What is scary, is that yes, your multinational corporation holds more sway on the world's future than most countries' governments, and you are driven by stockholders* which largely are more interested in profit than promoting the greater good. *That you have over 2/3 of your shares in the hands of institutional investors is promising, however we both know that with 30% of your market share being in the hand of non-institutional investors, that's more than enough to have significant sway and steer you more towards profit than helping. After all, your entity exists to make money, and perhaps that's the other separation we should make- you as a humanitarian working to help create more access to clean drinking water, and you as a CEO whose purpose is to maximize your stock price/shareholder value.

    I hope that there is a sincerity here in your statements when you discuss the greater good and don't make me look foolish for coming to your defense.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to try to stop this viral misinterpretation of your ideas and for reading my comment, but from myself and everyone in this world- please don't do this under the guise of goodness just to turn around and screw us. Thanks.

  65. Abdiel @ ---

    30 Apr 2013 - 16:36 (GMT)

    Men, if you care so much for water, dont you think there are better ways than charge for it?, I get the fact, that now this was a "on purpose" way to do things according to Mr scott who I think may work @nestle... but see im just tired of retrograde people who belive the soution is not education, and social leads but MONEEEEYYY.... I mean why money is the solution for everything for you people... dont you realize that you will die for the same things than you live... and seems you people always want more money... and I hope this goes very high mediawise, so you can hear whats the opinion of real smart people, not money suckers like you people.... and I know this is only for me... but Nestle will always be out of the shoping list now on

  66. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Nestlé

    01 May 2013 - 10:25 (GMT)

    Dear Abdiel,

    It’s not about shuffling money, it is about giving the most valuable resource we have, namely water, a value. See how the farmers in Oman have been doing it for 4,500 years https://www.water-challenge.com/posts/Insights-from-antiquity-Oman-and-the-art-of-water-pricing .

    I hope reading the story will not make you stop buying dates from Oman, they are among the best in the world, because farmers, aware of the value of the water, try to produce the highest value per drop.

    Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

  67. Joseph D. McDaniel @ Building Owners and Managers Association of Austin, TX, USA

    01 May 2013 - 17:39 (GMT)

    Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe,

    I appreciate your comments and the point you are trying to make. I am an agricultural user of water, though not in food production. I am in the commercial landscaping industry and we use water to create real estate value for our clients, a case of a commodity being used to produce value. I am also the representative to local and state governments for the Building Owners and Managers Association of Austin, TX on water issues that affect my clients.

    Through this process I have learned that regulation only is a recipe for continuing water overdrafts, the potential destruction of real property value and a predisposes us to continuing water issues. The very nature of the governmental process (which make no mistake, I fully support) is about constituencies more often than solutions. By investing water with an inherent monetary value we can drive innovation and supply growth dynamics within the free market system.

    Anyone can see that we are using more water than we have. We see that daily when we look at our water source and see that we are beginning the summer with a supply 30% lower than we did in 2011, a record drought year. Water policy and restrictions have not saved us nor prevented the depletion of our supply. The water in our reservoir is the same price at 40% full as it is when the lakes are 100% full. Simple supply and demand theory says that this is untenable and will deplete the supply if conditions do not change.

    Businesses must live, compete and make decisions in the real world. Part of that decision making process is having accurate economic indicators on which to base company policy. Having "free" water where only the delivery infrastructure is paid for means that efficiency in water use is not economically rewarded in the way that efficiency in the usage of other commodities can be. This is what leads to stagnation in corporate governance and in technological innovation.

    I fully support the idea of sustainment water for all. Cheap water for consumption, hygiene and other personal uses should be provided at the lowest cost possible with tiered rates to encourage efficient use. Commercial water and water beyond personal use must be considered a commodity and have an economic price. Whether that is controlled by municipalities or corporations is a decision to be made by local polities.

    As a world dependent on water for our very survival, to insist in the Utopian vision that all must have unfettered access to free water is to neglect the reality of a diminishing commodity with no cheap replacement. By recognizing the inherent monetary value of water we can accurately and adequately plan for solid and sustainable global supply.

    Kudos to Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe for being willing to champion this worthy endeavor.

  68. MJ @ Island Woman

    04 Jun 2013 - 13:31 (GMT)

    No response here, M. Brabeck? One of the arguments you are consistently using is that you aren't for privatizing public waters "even though we are not using any public water infrastructure for the source water we put in bottles", yet then you go on to say all your water comes from natural springs "What I want to say: we sell bottled water from natural springs as a choice to consumers..." yet only last year you were sued for using tap water in one of your products: http://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2012/10/19/nestle-sued-again-for-falsely-representing-bottled-tap-water-as-naturally-spring-sourced/.

    Beyond that is when you DO use natural springs water, it goes more like this. http://www.dcbureau.org/20090720727/natural-resources-news-service/nestle-draining-america-bottle-by-bottle-how-nestle-got-millions-and-millions-of-dollars-from-a-230-permit.html

    To quote your own spokesperson from the same article: "Perrier-Nestlé spokesperson Lauren Cargill stated, “If you own the land you own the water [and] you can take what you want regardless of your neighbor.”"

  69. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Nestlé

    05 Jun 2013 - 13:29 (GMT)

    Dear Ms Island (sorry, I could not find your real name in your comment message),
    Many thanks for your comment. Maybe the language I used was imprecise – I say nowhere that all the bottled water of Nestlé comes from our own sources (most of it does, actually); where we use water from public waterworks and thereby make use of their infrastructure we pay like any other user. And then my main point is: it does not really matter for us or any other user of municipal water who owns the pipes, whether they are owned by the municipality or another organisation, what matters is the good management (efficiency, quality). For the Forbes story: information on where the water comes from was available, the article says that, but we have to communicate this better. On the quote in the second part of your comment: the alleged statement does not reflect Nestlé rules or practices neither in the past nor today.
    Peter Brabeck-Letmathe

  70. MJ @ Island Woman

    05 Jun 2013 - 14:14 (GMT)

    The quote about the water ("even though we are not using any public water infrastructure for the source water we put in bottles") was YOUR quote. The statement was made by YOUR spokesperson. I don't believe the language is the problem, I believe your view of revisionist history is the problem.

  71. Azad @ Private

    06 Jun 2013 - 22:18 (GMT)

    Daer Mr. Peter,

    I rally wonder you have worried about the water that wasted (???) by the Punjabi farmers in India and water level reducing. Why don't you take care about the water that sucked by Coca Cola and Pepsi like cooperative companies in India's state Tamil Nadu and Kerala, sucking 25 million liters every day, if you really care about so called Vision for Future???

  72. Tristan Worcester @ me

    07 Jun 2013 - 16:54 (GMT)

    Dear Mr Brabeck-Letmathe,

    A few thoughts to add to the pot.

    What makes me sad that in my country (the UK), in Victorian times much effort was made to provide free drinking water in the form of fountains in every town centre (admittedly less households had running water in those days) Now however you will not find a single drinking fountain maintained publicly, due I suppose to "maintenance costs" forcing it to be the norm to buy plastic bottled water (I personally think this is intentional), the polluting plastic remains of which are discarded everywhere quite flippantly and irresponsibly by a public that seems quite happy paying through the nose for this "convenience". Apparently another reason for switching off public water supplies was to stop travelling populations from accessing easy water supplies. Now it seems to suit government and big business that the only way to access safe drinking water in an urban environment is to buy it prepackaged from an elite multinational. Admittedly you can always carry water yourself and this is what I intend always to try and do, but there have been times in my life when I have been forced to seek out this bottled water and lets face it 330ml for a fully grown male does not go a long way for the kinds of prices we're talking. I can see that my wilderness survival skills are now better employed in the urban environment if we are to minimise the amount of money we hand over to seemingly uncaring, manipulative and controlling governments and multinationals.

    Perhaps not the words you want to hear but I stand by the fundamental truth that water should be made freely available to all. I am not in favour of bottled water being used as it is currently to create mass profits as no other alternatives are now made available in certain environments. I do however concede that bottled water has some beneficial applications, however I think an over reliance on this "convenient" water supply is in reality long-term unsustainable for the planet. It's transport , packaging and refrigerated storage being my main environmental sticking points, admittedly, these are all the things that give the water its inflated price. I am much saddened when I walk around my local community and all I see is plastic drinks bottles littering the sidewalks, and I know for a fact the difficulties involved in recycling these non-biodegradable materials. What I would really like to hear is solutions to the problems your company already causes as well as solutions to the world-wide water problems. For example I recently heard that tetra packed water may be more sustainable due to easier recycling of the waste packaging. I'd be very interested to hear your views.

    With Regards
    T. Worcester

  73. Julia Menard @ Menard Coaching, Mediating, and Training

    20 Jun 2013 - 21:02 (GMT)

    Dear Mr. Brabeck-Letmathe

    Firstly, thank you for providing this forum. It is an excellent example of providing a place to debate ideas and spark the potential for mutual understanding.

    As I read some of the entries, I start to see a vision emerging. I do hear your concern for our water supply and a true desire to make the world a better place for your own children, grandchildren, great-grandchilden. That seems evident to me.

    Here are a few points I've been pondering first:

    1) The idea of leaving decisions to individuals re: buying bottled water or not. This argument reminds me of the one of leaving it up to individuals to buckle up their car seat or not. When it was left up to the individual, they did not buckle up (by and large) and there were downstream negative consequences. So the argument of leaving decisions up to the individual in all instances doesn't make sense to me.

    2) You also illustrate the example of a thirsty person at a game - with one of his options being going to drink from the fountain in the toilet which could be unpleasant. That is the only argument I heard re: the option of public water to consume. I agree that water is a healthier choice than pop for sure. I don't see bottled water (a cost) being a better choice than public water (communally controlled for the pubic good). I also agree that water should be thought of as a precious commodity and handled efficiently. Water is a precious resource - I think we would all agree with that.

    From these thoughts - and the comment from the reader above about how public fountains were more available in times past - wouldn't it be amazing if Nestle's took the stand that they are no longer going to produce bottled water because you believe water should be controlled and managed (efficiently) by the public trust. Period. Yes, that does mean other bottling companies will step in and fill a void. Yes, that does mean some consumers will consume more pop than water, perhaps.

    It also means that your company, which works hard to be a thought leader and to make a difference, would make a statement mostly to your corporate colleagues - but also to governments and consumers - about what you believe.

    This vision excites me. I hope it reflects some of your beliefs. I know we are all working towards the same ultimate, bigger vision - a world with safe and fair access to drinking water for all.

    Wishing you well,
    Julia Menard

    This comes back to what our society collectively thinks is important to put limits on or not. When we left it up to the individual to seat belt up or not, our hospitals, and children, and adults all paid the price. That is now regulated with large and positive societal consequences.

  74. noodle @ student

    21 Jun 2013 - 09:26 (GMT)

    Hi there, your video regarding water privatization came to my attention yesterday. The various comments on the video were what I've come to expect from people and I applaud you for having the guts to ask if there is a better way we could manage our most precious resource as it is something I have thought about myself. I agree that because water does not have a market based price we use it as though it has no value, but my question is how do we implement a price on something that is provided without competition? Further to that I understand what you're saying about everyone having a certain need for water but how do we determine how much water everyone needs when we are all different and if that does turn out to be a problem wouldn't it be better to have the price placed on water from the first liter instead of after an arbitrary amount that is deemed as what we need?


    10 Jul 2013 - 02:51 (GMT)

    2013 as International Year of Water Cooperation

  76. TJ @ non

    09 Sep 2013 - 19:24 (GMT)

    Hello mr. Brabeck,

    1 thing I want to give to you.

    You are a high powerfull men, who still make the discusssion with all others.
    Let do that all powerfull poeple..
    You react about most discussions, and give that same poeple the chance, that they will be heared, as you do with your reacting back reactions. (sorry my english is bad)

    Let all powerfull poeple do that, so that they can also see their mistakes, and good things.

    I do not drink botled water, too expensive and I prefer normal water.

    But you discuss with all, and I think and hope, that that brings you and all companyleaders at the right level of leading a company with the right integrity with also thoughts at other things and poeple then only think at money and money making

    Especially in water and the right for all to use and can use..

    Thank you for willing to discuss with normal poeple.


  77. Anouka Dugal-Garant @ Financially autonomous

    15 Aug 2014 - 21:19 (GMT)

    Dear Mr. Brabeck,

    I wonder what is your opinion about rainwater collection home systems and the fact that in some countries (for example some states in USA) make it illegal to collect rainwater at home.

    And what is your opinion on the fact that Detroit cuts water to citizens that cannot pay debts because they are poor and does not do the same thing to businesses that cannot pay debts.

  78. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe @ Nestlé

    18 Aug 2014 - 10:23 (GMT)

    @ Anouka Dugal-Garant Dear Anouka, thanks for the comment and your questions. Two quick answers: one of the pioneers in rainwater harvesting on roofs, Bunker Roy, was a speaker at the very first water discussion at the WEF in Davos that I organised, http://the-world-around-water.net/main.php?do=davos2005 I fully agreed with his ideas and still do. On water for basic needs: South Africa offers every family 6,000 litres per month for free in case they cannot pay. I do not know the situation in Detroit, but am convinced that we all in the west can learn from such solutions. You find more on this on https://www.water-challenge.com/posts/Water-management-–-part-one-water-for-survival-as-a-human-right.aspx . Please tell us what you think about this solution, and whether it might be viable in a place like Detroit. Regards, Peter.

  79. S @ Na

    01 Nov 2014 - 21:26 (GMT)

    Should we all let our lawns die? I do pay my water bill so I am paying for my water consumption. It does bother me when people waste water unnecessarily but unexcessively watering a lawn is a necessary evil.
    I find it odd that controlling water consumption is coming from a man/company that sells water. Maybe we should limit how much water Nestlie can harvest from our resources. I don't have time to read or watch your videos to see if the answer lies within one of those but I'm curious to know, does Nestlie pay anyone for the water it harvests to sell?

  80. Ethel Zeleznik @ http://50kProxies.com

    08 Dec 2014 - 01:55 (GMT)

    I believe this website has got some rattling good information for everyone : D.

  81. D'Stimm - Anarchist @ Totaler antikapitalismus

    17 Jun 2015 - 12:36 (GMT)

    Herr brabeck
    Lese sie bitte de Artikel wenn möglich: http://www.theintelligence.de/index.php/wirtschaft/finanzen/4216-die-geldlose-gesellschaft-als-endgueltige-loesung-der-finanzkrise.html wär das ned astrebenswert? Ich kenne d Antwort und sie??

  82. lasharigroup - Mineral water company in Bahrain @ lasharigroup of Companies

    18 Aug 2015 - 07:55 (GMT)

    Your blog is good and impressive. We are one of the leading suppliers, Contractors of Cleaning Contractors, Real estate, Construction

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