Businesses pledge support for sustainable water

Some of the UK’s biggest food businesses have committed to improve their water efficiency and take action on water risk hotspots as part of a new roadmap for the sector.

Developed by WRAP and supported by organisations including The Rivers Trust and WWF, the water roadmap is designed to help businesses deliver the Courtauld Commitment 2030 target for 50% of the UK’s fresh food to be sourced from areas with sustainable water management.

A total of 65 organisations, including 50 leading food and drink businesses, are already supporting the roadmap. These include major foodservice players like Bidfood, CH&Co, Pizza Hut Restaurants and Sodexo, along with supermarket chains and food and drink suppliers.

Businesses will deliver the water roadmap in partnership with water stewardship expert bodies and on-the-ground delivery agencies.

The roadmap sets out the actions organisations need to take individually and collectively to achieve the Courtauld target along with key milestones, a delivery and governance framework, and a reporting framework.

Hospitality and foodservice signatories will be expected to start by monitoring and improving water efficiency in their own operations and identifying water risk hotspots in their supply chains. Over time, they will be asked to use their influence to advocate for better water governance and continue to support collective action and stewardship projects in strategically important sourcing locations.

Global demand for water is projected to increase by 50% by 2030 and the UN projects a 40% global water shortfall by 2030. The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that one sixth of the world population lives in a rural area with very high water constraints and competition for available supplies.

“Given the necessity of water to produce our food and drink and the scale of water use for food production globally, it is vital that as an industry we set a goal for action,” said Karen Fisher, head of climate action strategy at WRAP. “The water roadmap provides a practical mechanism for food and drink businesses to know what actions they can most meaningfully take to help achieve this goal. I urge other organisations to join those that have already given their commitment to help protect this critical resource.”

At the recent COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the UK government launched the Glasgow Declaration for Fair Water Footprints which commits businesses, governments, civil society and external support agencies to take significant and measurable actions over the next decade to transform how the global economy interacts with the water environment and the resilience of local communities.

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