World Water Week is underway in Stockholm and this year’s theme is water cooperation, following on the United Nation’s call for 2013 as the International Year for Water Cooperation.

For PepsiCo this is a perfect opportunity to highlight its comprehensive approach to water stewardship, including the key partnerships that help the PepsiCo Foundation provide access to safe water as well as the company’s operational successes to increase water use efficiency.

Effective water stewardship is achieved through a variety of means but the goal is always the same: to use water responsibly. Transforming aspiration into reality demands engagement at every level. No single entity, program or organization has the resources or capacity to tackle this challenge single-handed. Collaborative innovation is the vehicle by which the goal of global sustainable water management and access to safe water will be met. In short, progress comes through partnership.

Community partners, internal practices

The ongoing process of collaborative innovation that leverages the strengths of the PepsiCo Foundation’s key water partners — including the Safe Water NetworkWater.orgInter-American Development BankChina Women’s Development Foundation and the Water Center at Columbia University’s Earth Institute — enabled PepsiCo to meet its goal of providing access to safe water for three million people in the developing world by 2015, three years ahead of schedule.

Water savings within the company’s own operations were driven by tools like ReCon Water, an in-house system for prioritizing water saving opportunities. ReCon Water was fundamental to the company reaching its goal of improving water efficiency in its global operations by 20 percent in 2011, four years ahead of schedule.

Performance with Purpose

PepsiCo is guided by Performance with Purpose, the company’s goal to deliver great performance while doing the right things for people and communities around the world. Dan Bena, PepsiCo’s Senior Director for Sustainable Development, considers PepsiCo’s water stewardship efforts a great proof point for Performance with Purpose. He refers to the company’s efforts as “enlightened self-interest” and says that being a good corporate citizen -and taking a partnership approach to address industry issues – is simply good for business.

Dan is a respected voice here at World Water Week; his enthusiasm for the work he does with PepsiCo’s water partners is infectious.

“It’s engaging the community,” explained Dan at a Tuesday morning workshop with key partner Water.org, “it’s using resources innovatively and wisely, and it’s making the community part of the process.”

It’s a philosophy that serves the company and the community well and is one example among many here in Stockholm that help demonstrate how true progress comes only through partnership, understanding and cooperation.

Celebrating success, getting back to work

It’s both inspiring and humbling to sit and listen to the give and take of conversation and discussions echoing through the halls at Stockholmsmässan, the venue for World Water Week. This is where new ideas are considered, new partnerships forged and commitments reaffirmed for making water stewardship and the basic human right of access to clean water and sanitation a reality.

Attendees might take a moment to pat themselves on the back, but not too long. There’s too much work left to do.

by Thomas Schueneman