Healthy foods depends on quality water, and so do people. That's why we are committed to doing all we can to protect this precious resource.
As water security becomes an ever greater issue for communities around the world, our water stewardship strategy is fundamentally as local as water challenges are.
Experts say that, by 2030, global demand for water will outstrip supply by 40%, and over half of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas. While conserving and protecting water resources is a global challenge, it is a highly local one as well. This is why we are focusing our actions in the most at risk areas by supporting locally adapted solutions to water quality, quantity, and access.
With our four pillars in mind, Danone’s approach is focused on innovative strategies and partnerships that can be leveraged each for specific context and community.
Our Water Cycle strategy
We began our journey to protect water resources two decades ago, with a signature partnership with the Ramsar convention on wetlands in 1998. Today, our strategy is based on four water stewardship pillars: 1/ reducing water in operations, 2/ protecting ecosystems; 3/ promoting sustainable agriculture; and 4/ increasing access to safe drinking water for populations.
1/ DRIVING EFFICIENCY IN OUR OPERATIONS
Danone has direct control over how water is used in its own operations, which enables us to set ambitious targets. We are aiming to achieve the following goals by 2020:
- to increase the number of our sites that have run groundwater assessment audits using the SPRING method, developed by Danone and its partners. In 2017, we succeeded in auditing 100% of our Water Division Sites according to SPRING.
- to decrease water intensity in factories by 60% from a year 2000 baseline (so far, we are two-thirds of the way there);
- to have 100% compliance with Danone Clean Water Standards in all sites that discharge wastewater.
Starting in 2017, Danone began using the Water Risk Filter, developed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to evaluate and anticipate risks linked to our use of water, and help us put in place action plans that are adapted to local contexts.
2/ PROTECTING ECOSYSTEMS THROUGH A WATER FUND MODEL
But operations are just the beginning: Danone strives to protect broader water ecosystems in the places where we operate, especially when these areas are water-stressed. One way we do this is through water funds. Water funds create collective financial and governance mechanisms which bring together public, farmer, NGO, industrial and civil society stakeholders around a common goal: strengthen water security through integrated watershed management. Danone is working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and local partners to put water fund models into place in water-stressed areas, from Mexico and France to China and Indonesia.
One such area is Pasuruan, nestled into the coastline of East Java, Indonesia. Home to Danone’s second largest bottled water facility in the country, flow from the natural spring that feeds Pasuruan has fallen by more than 20% since 2007. In response to this challenge, Danone, the Danone Ecosystem Fund, TNC and the International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) have joined together with public authorities to put in place a water fund that helps mutualizes costs and strengthen water governance. This model has supported the development of new local measures, including agroforestry and irrigation techniques that use less water.
3/ SUPPORTING TRANSFORMATION AMONG SMALLHOLDER FARMERS, FROM FEEDING TO FARM PRODUCTION
Agriculture is the single largest consumer of water, responsible for nearly 70% of global water use. On top of that, water used for farming often rejoins the water cycle without being treated, bringing agricultural runoff with it. By working with farmers, particularly smallholders, we are promoting agricultural practices geared towards water conservation and preserving water quality.
Today, milk production accounts for 69% of our extended water footprint. Through projects like feed the cow in North Africa, we are helping dairy farmers reduce their water footprint through efficient, local feeding solutions. Our objective is to work with both small and large farm owners to develop sustainable feeding solutions for their herds.
In Indonesia, Danone Aqua is working to protect the water infiltration area around its Cianjur plant by collaborating with 700 smallholder farmers to promote organic farming. Because organic farming is still a niche market, the company created a new brand of organic rice, Orisa, and supports market access through its Aqua Home Service Outlets.
4/ EXPANDING ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER THROUGH SOCIAL BUSINESS
Today, we help provide access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene through several partnerships developed with International Organizations and with NGOs such as water.org, reaching close to 1 million beneficiaries. Through social businesses supported by DanoneCommunities, we support access to safe drinking water to an additional 700,000 people across the world.
DanoneCommunities has pioneered a water kiosk model, which allows social-entrepreneurs to sell safe drinking water to their communities at affordable prices. Water kiosk businesses provide economic opportunities as well, as they often rely on individual porters who bottle clean water at a central source and deliver it door-to-door.
For instance, the Jibu project supported by DanoneCommunities is using a water kiosk model to help local entrepreneurs in East Africa start their own safe drinking water franchises. To date, the project has helped launch 195 businesses, created over 550 jobs and distributed over 45 million liters of safe drinking water.
To discover more projects run by social entrepreneurs, visit DanoneCommunities website!
Encouraging responsible consumption through purpose-driven brands
Villavicencio, a Danone brand in Argentina, has long focused on conservation of forests and wetlands through a commitment to save 1m2 of natural habitat for ever bottle purchased. Thanks to the campaign “leave your footprint,” 48 million square meters of the Chaco Native Forest have been saved from deforestation and became a 130,000 hectare national park, “El Impenetrable,” that was officially inaugurated last year. In 2017, Villavicencio went even further, and strengthened its collaboration with the international Ramsar Convention on wetlands by certifying the Villavicencio Nature Reserve (which it owns), the first private site to be certified under the convention.
In Indonesia, Danone Aqua is expanding access to water through a partnership with water.org. When consumers buy 1 liter of Aqua, they provide access to 10 liters of clean water to communities in need. Aqua also signed the Access to Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Pledge, piloted by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, committing to implementing access to WASH at the workplace.
Villa del Sur is a purpose-driven brand from Argentina that works in Water Access Solutions. “Unidos por el Agua Program" is a collaborative and collective model that integrates different actors such as State, private sector, NGO´s and civil society and aims to co-create permanent and sustainable water access solutions in the most vulnerable regions of the country. With Unidos por el Agua more than 600 families of isolated rural areas improved their quality of life accessing to safe drinking water.
Silk is a plant-based brand with a mission to conserve and restore the water that we all share and rely on. Silk is partnering with the National Geographic Society, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Take Part and Participant Media to support Change the Course—a multiyear effort to conserve fresh water and preserve the ecological health of the Colorado River Basin. Each time an individual signs the Change the Course pledge to conserve water, 1,000 gallons of water are restored to the Colorado River through projects supported by partners like Silk.
Danone celebrates its 20 years of partnership with the Ramsar Convention
The 170 contracting parties have recognized the key role played by Danone for the last 20 years of partnership with the convention, raising awareness on the importance of wetlands. Danone became in 1998 the first private partner of the Convention on Wetlands, convinced of the need of collective action to achieve water security. Evian and Villavicencio, the two Danone sites certified by Ramsar as sites of International Importance, are living proof of this conviction.
In many places around the world, we have already implemented solutions with partners to protect our water resources. It is time now to accelerate our collective efforts. That is why, last august, Danone, Ramsar and other partners launched the “multiple benefits” coalition. It will serve to catalyse efforts and expertise to build a business case for public, private, and nonprofit actors to accelerate investment in nature-based solutions.