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Is our water at risk?

Oslo, October 20, 2014
Yara attended the Oslo Water Initiative on 14 October, to profile and explain the importance of water issues and how Yara's knowledge and solutions contribute to a more efficient water use in agriculture.
Is our water at risk?

Norway might just be one of those countries where water scarcity is not a matter of deep, substantial importance. However, this is clearly not the case in other parts of the world, and one need not travel far to see the real implications of lack of clean fresh water. In this respect, agriculture is both part of the challenge, as well as the solution. We simply need to use less water, and use water resources more consciously, and that was the issue at stake in Oslo last week.  

The Oslo Water Initiative was arranged by Global Compact Nordic Network, The CEO Water Mandate, the Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry (NHO) and Norwegian Church Aid. 

Yara, which as the first Norwegian company to join the CEO Water Mandate (CEOWM) of the UN Global Compact spoke as the first company on stage, was also joined by other private sector representatives including Pepsico, Statoil and clothing giant H&M. Both Pepsico and H&M clearly indicated the agricultural sector and its water footprint as a vital part of how they want to manage their business in a more sustainable way. 

Hans Goossens, Director for Yara’s New Business, gave a presentation during the first session of the day - 'Yara, Water and the Mandate – why and how' - introducing the company, and outlining the reasons for making this topic a priority. 

Agriculture is part of both the challenge and the solution 

"Agriculture is a main part of the challenge - and solution - to the water issue," he told the gathering. With growing pressure to produce more food using limited land and water resources, more crop per drop is essential to feed future populations. "These global gaps drive our business development and innovation agenda," Hans said. 

He also argued the business case for backing the CEOWM, and how Yara's technology solutions and acquisitions were part of a strategy to ensure business sustainability through agricultural sustainability. 

"Yara is extending beyond being a traditional fertilizer and crop nutrition company," he explained, "leveraging our knowledge to grow. Subscribing to the CEOWM is a means to building a network of partners, to be able to bring our solutions to farmers and to act on the full impact of water scarcity – its availability, quality, and accessibility."

Water risks 

Jason Morrison, the Technical Director of the CEOWM, provided a presentation of how companies can engage with CEOWM and related expectations. Typically the companies start building internal awareness and understanding, before reporting on their own water metrics and subsequently start engaging in their value chains or advocacy. 

“Water Risk is a strong incentive for companies to collaborate with others: To identify what are the water challenges, how can they be addressed and with whom can we collaborate,” explained Morrison, also pointing at how the water issue ranked top in the 2014 World Economic Forum risk assessment for societal issues – both in terms of probability and significance. 

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hans Brattskar, represented the public sector and highlighted a number of key aspects of the water issue – including that of water and agriculture: 

“Without access to clean drinking water and sanitation, anyone will be challenged to perform well. Direct investments should also look beyond that of irrigation and highly intensive agriculture, to include also the smallholder farming communities,” said Brattskar, who also emphasized that the Norwegian Government is increasing its involvement of the private sector in development initiatives. 

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