Along with Dan Bena of PepsiCo global operations and Claire Lyons of the PepsiCo Foundation, I recently attended World Water Week in Stockholm. This conference has been an annual event since 1991 and brings together NGOs, governments, researchers, and companies from around the world. This year, over 100 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe were represented. Many of the alliances in which PepsiCo participates, including the Water Footprint Network, the UN CEO Water Mandate, and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development’s water leadership group, met during the week to share information and report on group initiatives.
For me, the highlight of this year’s conference was the launch of our report on the Positive Water Impact pilot. PWI means providing more and/or better water to the environments and communities where we and our suppliers operate. PepsiCo is working in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to figure out how to do this in all the different settings where we do business. While there are other initiatives working to protect and restore watersheds, we believe that our partnership is developing the first methodology for identifying options that make sense in the context of the local water supply, community, and economy.
Brian Richter of TNC and I provided a preview of the report during a panel on corporate water risk management. The panel covered tools that apply on different scales and that answer different questions. For example, the Aqueduct Alliance provided a description of their approach to measuring, mapping, and explaining water-related risks. Ceres, a nonprofit organization working with investors and environmental organizations to address sustainability challenges, described a new corporate water management framework that will help investors assess the risk faced by their portfolio components.
The report was formally launched at a by-invitation luncheon on Wednesday. Our moderator, Prof. Upmanu Lall of the Columbia University Water Center (a PepsiCo partner), led a dialogue on the background of PWI, the challenges we faced, and the lessons we learned. Attendees representing water.org (another of our partners), the International Finance Corporation, USAID, and other groups spoke from different perspectives and posed challenging questions. As a result, we will re-examine some issues as we move into the next stage of PWI.
Overall, the week provided a look at new methods and resources. I’m especially looking forward to the formal introduction of a new set of water scarcity maps from the Water Footprint Network, which will help us develop a more sophisticated understanding of the challenges that we face in the many places where we operate.