Water scarcity is a huge problem for people, society and business.
Water is critical for the planet, its ecosystems and its inhabitants to survive and thrive. At a human level it is essential for life, and at an economic level, it is a central fuel for the global economy. Unilever is no different. Water is critical for the manufacturing and use of our products. Constraints on the quality and quantity of the water available limits our ability to operate effectively and meet the needs of our consumers.
2.8 billion people around the world are experiencing poor access to water. And this number is estimated to increase significantly, with the Water Resources Group estimating that 25% of the total water demand in 2030 will not be met. Household water scarcity is becoming a major issue in fast-growing cities in developing countries where infrastructure has not kept pace with the growth in population and income. Climate change, urbanisation, population growth and a growing middle class have combined to create a global water crisis – characterised by droughts, floods and localised shortages such experienced in Cape Town.
Tackling this challenge requires collective action from companies, governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and consumers. Here, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) provides a common framework for achieving sustainable water access for all by 2030. We believe that a world with water for all is a critical platform for achieving the rest of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP), we are responding directly to a number of macro forces. A number of our USLP targets directly address the risks and opportunities in our markets, including water scarcity that’s caused by climate change. The water pillar of our USLP contributes to a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), primarily: Clean water and sanitation (SDG 6); Responsible consumption and production (SDG 12); Climate action (SDG 13); and Partnerships for the goals (SDG 17).