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We've unveiled an ambitious new water strategy

We recently published our Water Blueprint, our strategic approach to water stewardship, amid growing concern about water risks worldwide.

Feature

According to The World Economic Forum Global Risks 2015 Report, the water crisis is the number one global risk to society in terms of impact. Due to growth in agricultural production, urbanisation, energy demand and the rise of the middle class in emerging markets, there has been a surge in demand for water, growing at twice the rate of population increase. It is no surprise, therefore, that one in five people across the globe has no access to safe drinking water.

As we have expanded in emerging markets across the world, our impact on water resources has naturally become a key consideration in driving the sustainable future growth of the business. With a third of our volume now produced in water-stressed areas, the blueprint forms the basis for our future water stewardship1.

The Water Blueprint has assessed the impact on water of our global footprint, spanning its broader value chain for the first time. This gives us a deeper awareness and understanding of our total impact of water use and has enabled us to prioritise the steps we should take to improve water stewardship.

We have set out a series of ambitious targets to be achieved by 2020 and is employing leading-edge metrics such as 'replenishment' to truly measure impact. The four core areas of the strategy to reduce water impact globally include the sourcing of raw materials, our production, the communities in which we operate, and local and global advocacy for best practice in water stewardship.

Targets in the Water Blueprint include:

  • Reducing water use through a 50% improvement in water use efficiency
  • Returning 100% of waste water from our operations to the environment safely
  • Replenishing water-stressed areas with the equivalent amount of water used in our final products which have been made in water-stressed areas, through projects such as reforestation, wetland recovery, and improved farming techniques
  • Equipping suppliers with tools to protect water resources in water-stressed areas
  • Developing Water of Life community projects in water-stressed areas where production sites are located
  • Ensuring appropriate access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene for all employees in the premises under Diageo's control.

The Water Blueprint builds on Diageo's heritage of promoting sustainable water stewardship. One initiative core to this is the Water of Life programme, launched in 2007, providing access to safe drinking water and sanitation to millions of people across Africa.

The programme has already supported many districts, including Apac in Northern Uganda where 500 households now have access to clean and safe water, thanks to a new borehole in Inomo village, changing the lives of many. One of the happy residents is 57-year-old mother Joseline Oculum, who said: "In this village, we have been spending most of our time lining up for water at the only well, three kilometers away. Even then, we were not sure of the quality. I cannot thank Lifeline Fund and Uganda Breweries enough for this gift."

1 Water stewardship is our protection and management of water.