Every year, World Water Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the importance of water, reflect on our water stewardship progress, engage stakeholders on shared priorities and challenge ourselves to innovate further. This year, the United Nations theme for World Water Day is “Valuing water,” exploring what water means to each of us in our home and family life, our livelihood, our cultural practices and our environment. The value of water to our business is clear: from our farmers to our breweries to our consumers, our entire value chain relies on clean water. As we say—no water, no beer!
But water is more than just a key ingredient in our products—it is a critical resource for the health and well-being of every community, economy and ecosystem around the world. Our Water Stewardship goal is to have measurably improved water availability and quality in 100% of our communities in high stress areas by 2025. Every day our teams are taking steps to use water resources as efficiently as possible and address the pressing water challenges where we operate. Here are some highlights of our progress:
Improving our internal water use efficiency
Our breweries depend on a reliable supply of clean water for production. We challenge ourselves to brew our beers at the highest level of water efficiency by reducing our per hectoliter (hl) water use. Through innovative technology and process improvements, in 2020 we continued to improve our internal water use efficiency, reaching a ratio of 2.7 hl/hl. We will keep working towards even more ambitious goals, aiming for water use efficiency of 2.5 hl/hl by 2025.
To reinforce our commitment to sustainability and water stewardship, we recently announced a 10.1 billion USD sustainability-linked loan revolving credit facility—the first of its kind among publicly listed companies in the alcohol beverage industry. The loan incorporates a pricing mechanism that incentivizes performance connected to our 2025 Sustainability Goals, including further improving water efficiency in our breweries around the world.
We are also proud to have received another “A” rating for water security from CDP, for demonstrating leadership on water stewardship transparency and performance.
Working towards measurable impact in watershed health
We are committed to being a part of the solution to the growing water challenges in areas where we operate. Building on our long-standing, impactful global partnership between Stella Artois and Water.org, we are also launching a new initiative with Water.org to improve clean water access in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The program will implement an innovative approach of providing loans to households to pay for connections to water and sanitation systems, as well as technical assistance and micro credit to entrepreneurs to expand water services for the poor. We aim to empower at least 20,000 people with access to improved water services over three years.
We are also proud of the progress we’ve made through water partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in the United States. In 2019, we provided TNC with a three-year grant totaling over 1.8 million USD aiming to help create a more secure future for freshwater in Fort Collins, Colorado and Los Angeles, California through investments in TNC’s conservation work on the rivers that keep these cities running. In Fort Collins, with this support TNC has restored roughly 829 acres of forests in both the Cache la Poudre and Big Thompson watersheds, benefitting an estimated 2.3 billion gallons of water annually. In addition, the funding has enabled work to improve flows on 1,352 river miles of the Colorado River. In Los Angeles, we are piloting a project to demonstrate the ability of green infrastructure and natural habitat to help manage stormwater, improve water quality, and create a healthier urban environment.
And today, our team in India launched a national partnership with WaterAid, a leading international non-profit organization whose mission is to transform lives by improving access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities. On the ground, this partnership will enable implementation of projects focused on water conservation, groundwater recharge and greywater recycling in key locations for aquifer recharge. The partnership will also use these projects to catalyze action at scale with other key stakeholders and nurture innovation in water stewardship through the establishment of a water consortium at the state level and a knowledge-sharing platform on a national scale.
Partnering with others to scale our impact
Given the scale and complexity of water challenges, we know we cannot do this work alone. We continue to partner with TNC and WWF in efforts such as green infrastructure initiatives, conservation and reforestation projects, habitat restoration and improved water infrastructure. Our partnership with WWF focuses on addressing local water challenges in Bolivia, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia. With TNC, we are focused on scaling new and existing water stewardship efforts, such as water funds in Latin America and on-the-ground projects, sharing best practices across regions, and developing a measurement guide to help our colleagues and peers evaluate the impact of their efforts. Read more about our reflections on our partnership and the continued collaborative work ahead here.
We are also collaborating with peer companies to scale our impact even further. Last year on World Water Day, we co-founded the Water Resilience Coalition, an industry-driven, CEO-led initiative of the UN Global Compact that aims to elevate global water stress to the top of the corporate agenda and preserve the world’s freshwater resources through collective action in water-stressed basins. Since launch, membership in the Coalition has grown and we continue to encourage others to join us.
We are proud of our progress and will continue to challenge ourselves to build resilient watersheds and communities, because when our communities thrive, our business thrives.