In recent years, the World Economic Forum has consistently ranked water crises as a top global concern, as. Population growth, pollution and climate change are all increasingly threatening water availability and water quality. In response, governments are tightening water regulations in many growing regions, and investors and consumers alike are calling on global food and beverage companies to mitigate water risks in the food supply. Meanwhile, agricultural sustainability standards have experienced significant growth and have come to represent a key mechanism through which large multinational firms address their sustainability goals.
To help inspire and inform further change, Ceres and WWF created the AgWater Challenge. Together, we’re engaging leading food and beverage companies to provide examples of leadership and encourage stronger, more transparent commitments to better steward fresh water resources in agricultural supply chains.
About the AgWater Challenge
The AgWater Challenge helps companies advance their sustainable sourcing strategies. Through the challenge, companies can receive support in analyzing water issues within their supply chains, and in refining or making new sourcing commitments that enable them to better address their risk. As a part of the AgWater Challenge, Ceres and WWF work with companies to develop time-bound and measurable commitments to:
- Reduce the water impacts associated with key agricultural commodities
- Implement locally-relevant strategies to mitigate risk in agricultural areas where water is scarce
- Support and incentivize farmers and other agricultural producers to strengthen water stewardship practices
Of course the clearest and most important benefit of this program is that it encourages better water stewardship among the world’s most influential companies. Participating companies, in turn, benefit from:
- Technical assistance from leading NGOs
- Peer-to-peer learning on best practices for managing water risks and challenges with meaningful goal setting
- Opportunities to earn recognition as an AgWater Steward, a leader in the food sector in responding to water challenges, through new actions and commitments
- Improved standing in Ceres’ next Feeding Ourselves Thirsty ranking
- Insight from communications experts on how to effectively tell their sustainability story to a range of key stakeholders
Representing over $123 billion in annual net revenue, the first AgWater Stewards included seven companies—Diageo, General Mills, Hain Celestial Group, Hormel Foods, Kellogg Company, PepsiCo, and DanoneWave (formerly WhiteWave Foods). Altogether, they developed a total of 18 new commitments to reduce water impacts associated with agricultural commodities along their supply chains.
To join WWF and Ceres in the AgWater Challenge, please contact Lindsay Bass, WWF’s manager of corporate water stewardship. And watch this space for more news about our program and the companies that are taking meaningful steps to preserve one of the world’s most critical, life-giving resources.
To learn more about WWF's work, please visit our pages on sustainable food, fresh water, and corporate water stewardship.