Water and food are inextricably linked

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SIWI Swedish Water House is collaborating with the Swedish Food and Beverage Industry to improve water management in agriculture and food processing. By providing guidance on how to assess water risks, set targets and implement action plans, measure progress and report achievements to stakeholders, SIWI is supporting companies on their journey towards becoming water stewards. SIWI is providing a platform for joint learning where companies can share lessons learnt with each other, while getting access to international expertise within the water and food sector. Support to companies is provided in three ways, as summarized below:

Networking to build capacity and share experiences on good water management practices

In 2014 a cluster group was created to support companies in their water management practices. The main challenge was to influence the way water is managed upstream in the supply chain where significant amounts of water is used for irrigation of crops, which is often beyond direct reach of food and beverage producers and grocery retailers. Together with nine companies, SIWI conducted a screening of tools and standards that can support companies in their supply chain management. Tools were benchmarked against a number of water assessment criteria to identify which ones can help to promote good water management among suppliers. The result is available as a web-based water guide presenting a selection of the tools and standards that were included in the screening. There are several hundreds of tools and standards available on the market and understanding the difference and which ones are most suited to support companies in meeting their sustainability targets is often difficult. The guide helps companies navigate between the many tools, and understanding their benefits from a water perspective. They are categorized based on their function. It includes water risk assessment tools, agricultural standards and certifications, farm sustainability assessment tools and guidelines as well as and reporting frameworks. To explore the website, please click the illustration below:

The cluster group meets on a regular basis. New research, available tools and resources are presented as well as examples of good corporate water management both from within Sweden and internationally. The network has provided a platform where Swedish companies can learn from companies with several years of experience in working with water issues such as Marks and Spencer, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Unilever, and at the same time raising the profile of water within the Swedish industry. Are you interested in learning more about the network and perhaps becoming a member?

Assessing the value of sustainability standards in strengthening producers resilience to water risks

Building on the work done within the network, a public private partnership between Sida and four of the cluster group members was initiated, aimed to assess the value of two of the tools included in the water guide. The tools – SAI Farm Sustainability Assessment Tool 2.0 and GLOBALG.A.P Integrated Farm Assurance Standard version 5, covered most of the water relevant aspects which all the tools in the guide were benchmarked against, and two of the most commonly used sustainability tools by the global food industry. The project which is running from Jan-December 2017, aims to test the implementation potential and scalability of the two tools. Are producers able to understand and/or meet the requirements in the tools, and do they help producers deal with water risks? As SAI FSA is a voluntary tool providing producers with a sustainability assessment of their farm, and GLOBALG.A.P is a certification system, the project will also evaluate the benefits and limitations of these two very different approaches to supply chain management. The tools are tested on various crops, countries and type of farms to ensure that they are working in different contexts. On farm visits are conducted together with the participating companies to evaluate the potential benefits the tools can bring to suppliers and allow them to provide feedback on their content. The tools are being piloted on avocado in South Africa, asparagus in Peru, rice in Cambodia, vineyards in Portugal and black pepper in India. Participating companies are ICA, Hermansson & Co, Axfood and Santa Maria. The results from the project and suggestions on how the water criteria can be strengthened will be shared with the tool owners. The project will also provide recommendations on how the tools best can be applied, and what additional measures might be needed to ensure that water is managed in a sustainable manner and water risks are mitigated.

Supporting companies in their development of water plans and strategies

SIWI is supporting individual companies with specific water assignments. Services we provide include water risk assessment studies, development of corporate water strategies and capacity building for staff or suppliers on water issues. Contact karin.glaumann@siwi.org if you are interested in consulting us.

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