At the UN climate change Conference, the COP26 the question of how world leaders aim to cut emissions and accomplish the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 will take center stage. However, some firms are now making another environmental promise, this one focusing on water. It focuses on making water-intensive processes more efficient and returning more water to a geographic area where a company operates than it takes out, something that is becoming more of a focus as water crises like shortages, overuse, and droughts impact areas all over the world, including the western United States. By 2030 the UN is predicting a 40% shortfall in freshwater resources.

Until recently, companies and governments all around the world have been discussing the factor of greenhouse gas emission goals, or carbon neutrality, It compels businesses to remove as much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere as they emit into it through activities like forest restoration, carbon capture technology, and carbon offset purchases.

As a result, firms ranging from BP to Facebook to Gap have all pledged to restore more water than they consume directly in the next years. Water conservation is also a priority for a new colour-dyeing technique developed by Ralph Lauren and Dow for the fabric-dyeing business, which consumes trillions of gallons of water each year. In August, PepsiCo proposed a strategy that involves replacing more than 100% of water consumed at all high-water-risk sites by 2030, as well as lowering water usage by 50%.

At CNBC’s ESG Impact event on Thursday, Jim Andrew, PepsiCo’s chief sustainability officer, stated, “The purpose is truly twofold.” “We’re taking a look at the whole value chain.” It’s all about reducing the total quantity of water consumed across the entire system. Every link in the chain is broken. Then there’s the question of how can we replenish what we don’t use?” Pepsi’s proposal would encompass more than 1,000 company-owned and third-party facilities throughout the world, according to Andrew, who added that the company’s partners “get the financial rationale and the urgency”.

Some companies are attempting to include customers in their attempts to minimise water use. While Procter & Gamble has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2040, Virginie Helias, the firm’s chief sustainability officer, said the business is also focusing on “a decrease through our downstream consumption – that’s our consumers.” Ikea joined the platform in August, stating that it will need to collaborate with its consumers to achieve its aim of being water positive by 2030. The water that goes through the taps and showers that the firm sells each year accounts for 15% of the corporation’s entire water footprint, according to a statement. This will necessitate Ikea collaborating with other members of the 50L Home Coalition, such as P&G and Kohler, to identify water-saving solutions. It’s also working on a water-positive home package that includes water-saving faucets, showers, and dishwashers. “Sustainability should be incorporated into the business since here is where the issues and challenges must be resolved,” said Juvencio Maeztu, Ingka’s group CFO and deputy CEO.

Kesiya Kattukkaran