EWS Director in Stockholm: “We see a big opportunity in the supply chain.”
Sep 12th, 2012 |
Stockholm, August 2012. “We see a big opportunity in the supply chain – it is powerful and could be a tool and a trigger for a real change”, said Ms. Sabine von Wirén-Lehr, European Water Stewardship (EWS) Director, in her introductory speech on the occasion of the EWS interactive stakeholder discussion on “Water Stewardship and supply chain management – A relation ‘Forever together-Apart’” during the World Water Week 2012 in Stockholm.
Representatives from different sectors along the supply chain – farmers, producers of primary ingredients and processors – expressed a clear need for increased suppliers’ involvement and identified the benefit to integrate European Water Stewardship (EWS) principles for driving concrete actions towards this aim.
Representing one of the world’s largest food company, Mr. Carlo Galli from Nestlé pointed out that water is a key pillar within Nestlé’s value chain and that interactions with their suppliers – mainly farmers – are linked with the idea of water stewardship: “We have financing and technical support programs to ensure suppliers improve their productivity, the quality of their raw material and the sustainability level of their farming practices”, he said.
Ms. Ulrike Sapiro, Environmental Sustainability Director at Coca-Cola Europe, stressed the fact that Coca-Cola started its sustainability journey focusing on their own manufacturing sites. “Over the past years we have created over 360 water stewardship programs around our bottling facilities. Rolling out the European Water Stewardship standard in our European facilities over the next years will on the one hand open the possibility for an external certification for the work that we are doing within our bottling plants and with our stakeholders, on the other hand it also fits to the enforcement of European water legislation like the Water Framework Directive,” she said. “The water stewardship journey also means a learning process. So it was a logical next step in our sustainability understanding to look at the supply chain. As a result, the value chain is now completely embedded in our sustainability strategy.”
“In Europe, sustainable use of water resources is already ensured by environmental law”, said Dr. Ingo Klenk, representative of the Südzucker Group, which is with 5.4 million tonnes of sugar production a leader on the European market. “Nevertheless, since the majority of the shareholders of Südzucker Group are sugar beet farmers there is a common interest of optimizing the whole supply chain, i.e. sugar beet cultivation, sugar production as well as beet and sugar logistics.” Moreover, Dr. Klenk emphasized that the Water Footprint parameter was not deemed by him to be appropriate to measure the water impact along their supply chain. “This is because the aspects ‘water quality’ and ‘water quantity’ are merged together and – due to the life cycle thinking – the ‘local’ aspect is not properly accounted. A high Water Footprint might be sustainable in one region, but not in another region”.
The NGO sector was represented by Mr. Sergey Moroz from WWF who welcomed the EWS approach of looking into the supply chain:
“We have to start moving beyond the corporate social responsibility, going towards water stewardship and creating the shared values. We definitely have shared risks and shared opportunities.” Mr. Moroz furthermore explained that farmers and companies had to understand the shared risks. The next phase should then be to mitigate these risks “through collective action, through stakeholder engagement, through getting engaged in the Water Framework Directive instruments, governments’ instruments and trying to get not just your house in order, but also your water shed.”
Ms. Ana Rocha, Advisor at the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO), stated that ELO welcomes voluntary tools such as the European Water Stewardship and the idea of reaching the supply chain. “Practical guidelines and assessment methods are helpful to encourage sustainable water management. Communicating the efforts and the benefits of such a tool helps to create a ‘snow-ball’ effect, where the stakeholders involved influence others to join”, she said.