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Water

We are committed to the sustainable use of water resources. Changing climatic conditions and rapid alterations in land and water use in many regions, driven by intensifying demand from population growth, dietary changes and economic growth, have increased the threat to the supply, quality and reliability of water for people across the world.

In this section we cover:

Why water is material to our business

Water sustains all life, so without water there are no crops.  According to the UN, water scarcity already affects every continent. Around 1.2 billion people, or almost one-fifth of the world’s population, live in areas of physical scarcity, and 500 million people are approaching this situation.

Yet very few governments prioritise agriculture over industries that generate greater currency revenues. If water becomes scarce, it is often farmers who feel it first.

There is therefore added impetus for agri-businesses (like Olam) to take action to ensure the long-term viability of our supply chains and food security around the world. Not only must we consider our vulnerabilities today, but also plan for future scenarios of increased water scarcity, including any measures that governments might take in response. To mitigate these risks, we need action now, both to reduce our own water consumption and also to ensure that other players within our water landscapes are practising responsible water stewardship.

In parallel, we must address issues of clean drinking water and sanitation in emerging markets –for our farmer suppliers and our workforce.

According to Water Aid, 1 in 3 people do not have access to adequate sanitation. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 50% of under-nutrition is associated with infections caused by unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene.

Aside from the ethical impetus to address these issues in our supply chains, there is a clear business imperative – healthy people enable greater productivity and increased volumes for our customers.

Next Section: Mapping our water impacts