LONDON, UK – A new “Water Ambition” launched today in the UK toreduce the environmental impact of food and drink production.
The initiative has been launched by government body the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), in partnership with WWF and the Rivers Trust, as part of Courtauld Commitment 2025.
Announced on World Water Day, the Ambition has the backing of signatories to WRAP’s ten-year Courtauld Commitment 2025 voluntary agreement, including major UK retailers, food and drink manufacturers & brands, businesses from within the hospitality & food service sector and trade bodies.
These include ABP Food Group, Bidfood, Coca-Cola GB, the Co-op, M&S, Nestlé, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
The Courtauld Commitment 2025 Water Ambition will see UK businesses act within their own operations, and collectively in food sourcing areas, to tackle water stress and improve water efficiency. Courtauld Commitment 2025 signatories have agreed to the following by 2025:
· Business signatories are monitoring water use in their own operations and have improved efficiency
o Aiming for 100 percent of signatory businesses monitoring water use and having delivered water reductions in operations under their direct influence.
· Business signatories are participating in collective action to improve the quality and availability of water in key sourcing areas.
o Aiming for 100% of signatory businesses supporting collective action projects in critical sourcing locations for UK food & drink supply. Over the lifetime of Courtauld 2025, these projects aim to cover around half of the production area of fresh produce supply from water stressed locations, as well as key water stressed areas for arables and livestock.
o Each project will aim to deliver reductions in water stress, measured against the most important water stress impacts & metrics in that location (e.g. reduction in consumptive use, improved water quality status, nitrate/phosphate/sediment levels in local watercourses). Initial focus will be on six UK catchment based project areas identified by the Rivers Trust as critical areas for sourcing key foods such as fresh produce, dairy and crops. All currently suffer water stress in terms of quantity and availability; or the quality of current supplies. The six areas include:
· Cam & Ely Ouse and Broadlands (East Anglia)
· Medway (South East)
· Tamar (South West)
· Eden (Cumbria)
· Wye & Usk (South West / Wales).
The scope of the Water Ambition will reach far beyond just the UK, according to WRAP, with WWF helping to expand the scale of this work into international regions that have water risks. These include the Western Cape in South Africa; southern Spain; and the Kenyan regions of Naivasha, Nanyuki, Thika and Nairobi.
Peter Maddox, director at WRAP, said: “The Courtauld Commitment 2025 Water Ambition is a practical response to the growing problem of water stress. With WWF, the Rivers Trust and other leading water experts we’ve created a collaborative programme that works on a localised level, dealing directly at source with issues specific within each catchment area. Under the umbrella of the Water Ambition, we can assess how individual projects are making a collective difference, and help scale these up.”