Water Resources Manager at Nestlé Waters UK, Matt Ryan has been an instrumental part of the team that worked on the Alliance for Water Stewardship certification at Buxton. He talks about the importance of the certification and the necessity of protecting water.
The importance of water, in all aspects of our lives, is difficult to overstate. Water is a shared resource and a basic building block for life on Earth. Access to it is essential for the continued survival and development of communities and industries.
However, water resources are under great stress across most of the world. Globally, the availability of fresh water is declining at an alarming rate. By 2030, the UN estimates that the global demand for water will exceed supply by 40%.
The declining quality of water in UK rivers is a major threat to biodiversity and therefore the systems which support health and wellbeing, like food production, economic activity, and outdoor leisure. To preserve our resources and improve this situation for future generations, action is needed at every level of society.
We all have a responsibility to act to protect our water.
Responsible water management is critical to our entire supply chain across Nestlé UK and Ireland, and that is particularly important at our spring and Natural Mineral Water production facilities, such as Buxton.
Water is a shared resource, which means that challenges faced within a catchment are also felt by its users and beneficiaries, such as ecosystems, industries, and the local populations. In turn, challenges related to water are therefore best addressed through collective action within the context of the catchment.
This realisation is the principle that the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) was founded on. Its system of working is based on the AWS Standard, which was developed as a means of measuring responsible water stewardship across a range of environmental, economic and social criteria, with the overall objective being to work collectively with other water users in a catchment towards sustainable water resources management.
As a Hydrogeologist, I naturally focus on the aspects of water resources management outside of the factory, so many of the fundamental of AWS were already embedded into how we operate before embarking on the journey to certify our Buxton site. But aligning our priorities closely to the Standard has resulted in a lot more cross-functional working within our business and with local stakeholders.
Working with the Standard identified many opportunities for improvement and development and has driven a change in mindset that has increased awareness of water related issues amongst our employees and significantly improved our level of engagement with local stakeholders.
Achieving Platinum accreditation to AWS, the highest possible level, is an acknowledgement that we have gone well beyond the realm of compliance, or simply addressing water-related issues inside the factory. It is recognition we are fully committed to taking action to protect and improve the sustainability of the water environment at the catchment level, and more importantly, bringing others along on the journey with us.
For Buxton and the Peak District more broadly, I think this certification can serve as a validation of the importance that our business places in the health of the catchment, and our commitment to protecting and improving the quality of the water environment we are all using and enjoying together.
Achieving certification is only the start
AWS certification is a key enabler to Nestle’s ambition to protect catchments and regenerate the water cycle everywhere we operate. Having achieved Platinum status is just the beginning and continuing to protect the quality and sustainability of our water resources is at the heart of what we do. Maintaining the highest level of certification will not be easy, we need to ensure that we continue to work with our partners to address shared water challenges faced by the environment and other users.
Water stewardship is an important tool for ensuring we manage our shared resources responsibly. Water is a precious resource and caring for it should be everyone’s priority, so Nestle will continue to advocate for as many businesses and organisations as possible to adopt this Standard.