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SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation

Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people, an alarming figure that is projected to rise as temperatures do. Although 2.1 billion people have improved water sanitation since 1990, dwindling drinking water supplies are affecting every continent.
More and more countries are experiencing water stress, and increasing drought and desertification is already worsening these trends. By 2050, it is projected that at least one in four people will suffer recurring water shortages.
Safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 requires we invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities, and encourage hygiene. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems is essential.
Ensuring universal safe and affordable drinking water involves reaching over 800 million people who lack basic services and improving accessibility and safety of services for over two billion.
In 2015, 4.5 billion people lacked safely managed sanitation services (with adequately disposed or treated excreta) and 2.3 billion lacked even basic sanitation. (UNDP, 2015)

Companies that are achieving this are:

Unilever Pte Ltd (NYSE:UL)

Industry: Food & Staples Retailing, Beverages, Food Products, Household Products, Personal Products
Headquartered in: UK

Today, 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress – the gap between water availability and water use. The causes are wide-ranging and include deforestation and land use change, the over abstraction of groundwater from agricultural crops, pollution from industrial waste, poor infrastructure and solid waste management. As a mass producer of consumer goods, water security presents a risk to Unilever's sourcing, manufacturing operations and consumers. Unilever is engaging in innovation and collective action to preserve and protect water resources, with the target of implementing water stewardship programs in 100 locations in water-stressed areas by 2030.

Unilever is also embarking on branding campaigns using its products such as soaps, toothpastes and household cleaners to improve sanitation through educational initiatives in handwashing and oral hygiene. In March 2020, Unilever announced that it would provide free soap, sanitizers and other products to the value of EURO 1 million to help battle the international COVID-19 crisis. To date, they have been donated and distributed in more than 60 countries.

Microsoft (NYSE:MSFT)

Industry: Software development / Computer hardware / Consumer electronics / Social networking service / Cloud computing / Video games / Internet / Corporate venture capital
Headquartered in: US

Microsoft committed to be water positive for our direct operations by 2030. This means that by 2030 Microsoft will replenish more water than it consumes on a global basis. They aim to accomplish this through reducing their water use intensity (water we use per megawatt of energy used for operations) and replenishing water in the water-stressed regions they operate in (where the amount of water withdrawn exceeds 40% of the renewable supply).

Their Silicon Valley campus, features an on-site rainwater collection system and waste treatment plant to ensure 100% of the site’s non-potable water comes from onsite recycled sources. An integrated water management system will manage and reuse rainwater and wastewater. This is estimated to save 4.3 million gallons of potable water each year.

Their campus in Herzliya, Israel, features water-efficient plumbing fixtures that drive up water conservation by 35%. In addition, 100% of water collected from air conditioners will be used to water plants on-site.

Microsoft is partnering with, a leading global nonprofit focused on underserved communities, to help people in Brazil, India, Indonesia and Mexico (and soon to expand to China, Malaysia and South Africa).

Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY)

Industry: Pharmeceuticals
Headquartered in: US

Water is a critical resource that Lilly is committed to using wisely. It will continue to assess its water risks as it focuses on conserving water, reducing our intake and improving water quality. Lilly is committed to preventing adverse impact from pharmaceuticals in the environment by ensuring all of its manufacturing sites meet predicted no-effect concentrations (PNEC) limits by 2030.


Industry: Food & Staples Retailing, Beverages, Food Products
Headquartered in: France

Danone is committed to protecting water, a vital and increasingly scarce resource, by working with partners to strengthen the water cycle at the local level and adopting sustainable practices across its value chain.

Danone established an overall and systematic assessment process for water risks that takes into account physical, regulatory and reputational risks. It is based on a two-step process: (i) identification of at-risk geographic regions and anticipation of changes over the medium term using the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas of the World Resources Institute; then (ii) identification of water risks at the level of the operating sites with the Water Risk Filter (WRF) developed by the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature, international non-governmental organization. This process makes it possible to obtain a water risk map and identify sites that present potentially major risks.

Since 2018, Danone also extended the identification of water risks to its value chain using the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, beginning with the assessment of the supply chain for fresh liquid milk. This analysis covered more than 20 countries, involved more than 8,000 collection centers and farmers and is based on projected changes to water stress through 2030. It enabled Danone to establish a detailed map of milk suppliers and farmers dealing with challenges of resource availability. In 2019, the identification of water risks was also implemented for other Danone’s agricultural commodities.

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