I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
The PepsiCo Foundation Leads the Way in Social Innovation for 'Water Work'
The social innovation work of the Columbia Water Centre (CWC) and the PepsiCo Foundation in the field of water security for the rural communities of Ceará, Brazil has been pioneering. The initiative shows the global community that water sustainability cannot be achieved in isolation and that integration of food-energy-climate goals needs to be shared. Ceara's problems are typical of a water-scarce region in the developing world, suffering from droughts and the problems that go with it, such as food insecurity, death of livestock and conflict over scarce water resources. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is a pressing concern for more than half of the world's population.
Ceara is one of several PepsiCo Foundation-funded projects to improve water security and rural livelihoods, and with CWC, it has been able to engage international and local expertise in engineering, hydrology, agriculture, public policy and finance to test and develop cost effective social innovation solutions for water sustainability. The project has been a model for collaboration from stakeholders in the government, community, and the private sector to ensure the sustainable management of scarce water resources.
PepsiCo invited two CWC scientists- Shama Perveen, Associate Research Scientist at CWC, and Assis de Souza Filho, Professor at the Federal University of Ceará and Adjunct Associate Research Scientist at Columbia University - to discuss the CWC-led projects on water and sustainable agriculture at two major June events: the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum and the Business Action for Sustainable Development's (BASD) Rio+20 Business Day. The two scientists spoke alongside PepsiCo representatives to share the project's findings on best practices, as well as contributing to conversations on human right to water and sanitation, the issue of water security and access, and agricultural water use efficiency.
Drs. Perveen and de Souza Filho also participated in a water breakout session at the Business Day event, "Water's Fundamental Role for Business in Green Growth and Poverty Alleviation." The session examined four key business messages on water that BASD sent to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development to determine what actions they can take to convey urgency to policy makers and consumers regarding the need to increase access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and implement coordinated processes in the water, energy, agriculture nexus, among other things.
The results of this work will help the private sector determine its role in promoting the sustainable use of resources and contribute to larger discussions relating to food security, climate change, water scarcity and sanitation. Next steps are needed to tackle these challenges, and the successes of the CWC and PepsiCo Foundation project shows us that sustainable change is possible, one community at a time. As a caveat, last month PepsiCo received the Stockholm Industry Water Award in recognition of its social innovation and outstanding water stewardship initiatives. It was awarded during World Water Week and honours the business sector's contribution to sustainable water management, improved performance in production, and innovative approaches in water process technologies.
Photo Credit: PepsiCo Foundation's Main Website