Tackling water security is key for African prosperity

by Search Gate staff. Published Thu 04 Jun 2015 08:33
“Tackling water scarcity can release untapped prosperity at every level"

With coordinated action, better water provision in Africa will strengthen economic growth and unlock the path to prosperity for millions, according to the chief executive of brewing giant SABMiller.

Speaking today at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Cape Town, CEO Alan Clark highlighted that water security and resource efficiency have become and will remain a priority for SABMiller in Africa as climate change exarcebates competition for resources. This year’s WEF Global Risks Report ranked water scarcity as the biggest single risk to societies and economies.

While growing production volumes, SABMiller has cut its global carbon emissions by 35% since 2008, reducing absolute emissions by nearly one million tonnes. Over the same period it cut water use per litre of beer by 28%, now using 3.3 litres of water to make one litre of beer, exceeding its 2015 target. In the last year alone, the company reduced its water use by 29 million hectolitres – the equivalent to the water used by over 116,000 Africans each year.

This has translated into tangible gains for the company – SABMiller saved US$117million in the last financial year compared with 2010 through water and energy related initiatives as a key part of its overall cost reduction plans.

Leading a panel discussion on the Future of Water, Alan Clark said: “The business case for conserving water both within our own operations and in the communities where we work is clear and compelling. Companies from all sectors are facing up to the risks that water scarcity poses to their business – even more so with the impact of climate change. Now is the time to step up and make clear commitments to reduce overall water use and improve efficiency.”

He also stressed that companies need to look beyond their operations if they want to effect real change: “There has been progress on water in Africa but it is neither universal, nor consistent . Hundreds of millions of people in Africa, especially in rural and poor households, lack access to safe drinking water.

“Tackling water scarcity can release untapped prosperity at every level – not just for business, but for communities, societies and national economies. Yet businesses are still too focused on their own operations – only by working with local partners and communities will they bring about real change.”

Providing both financial and operational support, SABMiller is a leading contributor to the Strategic Water Partners Network, a partnership between the South African government and private sector. It aims to close the gap between water supply and demand, which is forecast to reach 17% by 2030. Through more efficient water use, reduced leaks and improved water management, the network will work to close this gap.

Alan Clark pointed to mounting evidence of the risks posed by water scarcity to business and economic growth, quoting a 2017 projection by the International Food Policy Research Institute that 45% of total GDP - US$63 trillion - will be at risk due to water stress by 2050.




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