Increasing Safe Water Access – A Public and Private Sector Effort
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If we are to address these challenges and still achieve universal and equitable water access for all by 2030 as outlined in SDG 6, we must accelerate our efforts to increase water use efficiency, reduce water stress and ensure available, sustainable water for all.

The water crisis has never been more urgent, and partnerships—especially those where we can bring together leaders from business, the public sector and non-profits and non-governmental organizations—are a key solution to driving measurable, impactful and lasting change.

The world is facing a growing water crisis. One in nine people do not have access to safe and clean water, and it is projected that 25% of the Earth’s population will suffer recurring water shortages by 2025. Obstacles are coming at us from all sides—not only is there a growing demand for water, but the severity of climate change-driven droughts and floods is steadily increasing, which puts additional pressure on the need for water.

If we are to address these challenges and still achieve universal and equitable water access for all by 2030 as outlined in SDG 6, we must accelerate our efforts to increase water use efficiency, reduce water stress and ensure available, sustainable water for all.

This is not to say that there has not been measurable progress across all sectors towards achieving SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation. According to the UN, the proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services increased from 61% to 71% between 2000 and 2015, and the global population using safely managed sanitation services has steadily increased from 28% in 2000 to 43% in 2015 to 45% in 2017. Yet as of 2019, most countries are unlikely to reach full implementation of integrated water resources management by 2030, and achieving this goal would require doubling the current rate of progress global partners are making annually in managing water resources. Thus, there is still a critical need for aid—and urgent, sustained action.

PepsiCo is contributing progress towards achieving SDG 6 because we believe that access to safe water is a fundamental human right, regardless of where you live or whether you have means. As part of our commitment to Positive Water Impact, The PepsiCo Foundation, our philanthropic arm, works with leading non-profit organizations to expand access to clean water in some of the world’s most water-stressed areas. We prioritize water stewardship in our operations and advocate for strong local water governance in the communities where we work, purposefully focusing our efforts on geographies identified as “high water risk.”

Through the creation of a safe water access program in 2006, PepsiCo has supported the conservation, management, and distribution of  water across communities in Latin America, China, India and Pakistan.

Through the creation of our safe water access program in 2006, PepsiCo has been helping to effectively conserve, manage, and distribute water across communities in Latin America, China, Pakistan and India. Our portfolio of partners includes the Safe Water Network, Water.org, WaterAid, China Women’s Development Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the 2030 Water Resources Group. Together, we are making real progress – since 2006, we’ve helped more than 22 million people gain access to safe water.

In particular, our partnership with the IDB in Latin America and our continued work with WaterAid in India and the China Women’s Development Foundation in Central China go well beyond funding alone and draws on our respective organizations’ knowledge, talent and networks to maximize sustained impact. We believe that partnerships like these are required to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and these are where we believe our support can be most effective. The water crisis has never been more urgent, and partnerships—especially those where we can bring together leaders from business, the public sector and non-profits and non-governmental organizations—are a key solution to driving measurable, impactful and lasting change.

Bringing Measurable Solutions to Local Communities

One area where PepsiCo has focused its efforts is the provision of water access to dispersed rural communities in Latin America, which typically receive less support than more densely populated areas. In this region, water scarcity is increasing at an alarming rate, and lack of water threatens the health and safety of families. This scarcity not only affects community hygiene, but contributes to waterborne diseases, famine, migration and violence as well. 

We were proud to provide $7 million as the first and only private sector investor in IDB’s Aquafund to pilot programs in Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and Peru—an investment that not only built water pumps, pipes, and treatment plants for people in need, but helped catalyze $547 million in additional funding for continued support in these communities from other public sector partners. This partnership has since enabled us to improve access to safe, clean water for 765,000 people in these rural and remote communities. Improved solutions and access to better water sources results in better health and therefore more productive lives, better school attendance for children and a more positive long-term livelihood. Furthermore, access to clean, safe water is critical as populations around the globe face climate change-driven migration from drought-afflicted areas.

PepsiCo understands the power of partnership to make progress on this issue, and so we have focused on investing and working with organizations like IDB, where we can combine our respective areas of expertise to drive greater impact for social and environmental change.

Additional Support Around the Globe

In 2018, PepsiCo granted $4.9 million to WaterAid, a leading international water and sanitation non-governmental organization, to be put towards revolutionizing water systems in India and Pakistan. Since the partnership began, PepsiCo and WaterAid have brought clean water to more than 200,000 people living in communities in southern India facing extreme water shortages, specifically in Palakkad (Kerala), Nelamangala (Karnakata), and Sri City (Andhra Pradesh), by adding new wells, harvesting rainwater in schools and building piped water supply systems. The support has also galvanized communities to accept and adopt water conservation practices, learn more about the importance of safe drinking water, and band together as organizations to preserve this newly revitalized infrastructure.

PepsiCo also granted $2 million to the China Women’s Development Foundation’s ‘Water Cellars for Mothers’ initiative, which serves areas in rural China that have no previous water infrastructure. We are proud to be the first Fortune 500 company to support this initiative, and since the beginning of our partnership, we’ve provided access to safe water to more than 10 million people near the Danjiangkou Water Reservoir where water sources are often contaminated.

Looking Ahead

These are the kinds of partnerships in which PepsiCo will continue to invest, because we believe they are required to attain SDG 6, along with many of the other SDGs. The water crisis has never been more urgent, but our work with leading organizations demonstrates how partnerships can make measurable, impactful and lasting change—by giving people around the world the dignity, health, economic prosperity, and gender equality that safe water access can provide.

Creating sustainable water and sanitation services for all is a noble and necessary goal that benefits every last one of us—and there is more work to do. Now more than ever, we must all – the public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations and individual activists – take decisive and collaborative action towards achieving SDG 6.   

Jon Banner is executive vice president of Global Communications and president of PepsiCo Foundation at PepsiCo. He assumed the Global Communications position in May 2014, where he leads PepsiCo’s communications across all business units and global sectors, and reports to PepsiCo Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ramon Laguarta. In September 2017, Banner assumed additional responsibility as president of the PepsiCo Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm with a nearly 60-year legacy of investing in community impact. He reimagined the Foundation’s role in advancing a more sustainable food system through partnerships and philanthropic investments to alleviate hunger, manage water and waste responsibly, and support female change agents.

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