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Improving water access helps build business and community resilience

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On Imagine a Day Without Water, we’re asked to think about what it would be like to wake up in a world with limited available water. It’s a sobering thought, but for many people around the world, extreme water stress is a daily reality.

Water shortages are becoming all too common, as demand is increasing due to population and economic growth and supply becoming less reliable because of extreme weather driven by climate change.

It’s critical that we build the resilience of watersheds around the world so they can withstand these increasingly unpredictable pressures and are able to consistently supply abundant, clean water for all.

The resilience of our water resources contributes to the resilience of our communities. We need clean, safe water for effective hygiene and to respond to public health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Vulnerable populations are especially at risk. You can’t wash your hands without clean water and it’s difficult to physically distance if you have to leave your house to retrieve water for daily use.

Water also is critical to business and economic resilience. Virtually every industry relies on water to operate and grow. In the next three decades, according to WBCSD, the demand for water will increase by 40–50% for the global food system, by 50–70% for the municipal and industrial sector and by 85% for the energy sector.

Ecolab has a long history of helping our customers integrate smart water management and water stewardship into their operations and partnering with organizations around the world to build water resilience.

Earlier this year, we co-founded the Water Resilience Coalition, part of the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate. The initiative brings together multi-national corporations in an industry-led movement to combat the global water crisis through ambitious, quantifiable commitments and collective action.

One of the coalition’s core commitments is to deliver a measurable net positive water impact in water-stressed basins, focusing on freshwater availability, quality and accessibility. Our new partnership with Water.org will help us reach that goal in key at-risk watersheds in India.

Through a financial contribution from the Ecolab Foundation, the partnership aims to provide access to sustainable drinking water and improved sanitation for 100,000 people living in poverty in India, while contributing more than 26.4 million gallons of water per year to watershed health in extremely high-stress river basins in which Ecolab operates facilities. These areas include the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Konnagar, Baroda, Jamshedpur, Kolkata and Pune.

Together, we’re working toward three objectives:

  • Social responsibility: Supporting communities, families and workers living in areas where Ecolab operates.
  • Accessibility: Providing equitable access to water, sanitation and hygiene solutions to people living in poverty.
  • Quantity: Enabling positive, lasting water benefits in high-stress watersheds.

These types of partnerships are an important step toward a water-resilient world. Businesses are in a unique position to work together and use their reach and resources to accelerate progress. Our work with Water.org is one tangible way we’re taking action as an organization to help build community and economic resilience and equitable access to freshwater.

Water is both a shared resource and a shared responsibility. It will take collaborative action from all stakeholders to move the needle at the scale and speed required. As we face a world where days without water are a reality, not something imagined, I hope you will join us in our pledge to reduce water stress while building resilience in our businesses, and, ultimately, our communities.

About the Author

Meredith Englund headshot

Meredith Englund

Vice President of Water Partnerships

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