According to estimates by 2050, about half of the world's urban population will have water scarcity.
India is one of the most water-stressed countries; around 163 million people in the country lack access to safe water, and 210 million Indians lack access to clean sanitation facilities . To add to this, the Water Resources Group forecasts that by 2030, India will have only half of the water it uses today for agriculture. Therefore, along with the water crises, a food crisis is imminent.
To address significant challenges looming over us, such as climate change, water and food security, all of us need to come together and take collaborative action at scale. It’s time to make every drop count.
The time to act for positive water outcomes is not later or tomorrow but now.Sanjiv Mehta, CEO and Managing Director
What we’re doing about it
In this feature, we will explore HUL's ongoing commitment to sustainable water management through initiatives within our operations and beyond.
Leading water stewardship through HUF
Through the Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF), we support and amplify scalable solutions that can help address water challenges and help communities in the hinterland find solutions to safeguard water resources.
Impact of HUF till FY 21-22:
- 2.6+ Trillion litres of cumulative and collective water potential created
- 1.7+ million tonnes of additional agricultural and biomass produced
- 110+ million person days of employment created
To underscore the importance of the water potential created by HUF, 2.6 trillion litres of water are enough to meet the drinking water needs of India’s adult population for two years.
Transitioning to water-efficient operations
Since 2008, we’ve reduced water usage in our manufacturing sites by 48% (cubic metre per ton of production). We achieved this by driving site-wise targets towards reducing the usage of freshwater abstraction and focusing on recycling metrics. Furthermore, we adopted a ‘Zero-Loss’ mindset, which allowed us to minimise leakages and maximise the reuse of treated wastewater. We continue to invest in water-saving and water-efficient technologies, such as rainwater harvesting projects.
Enabling sanitation while conserving water
Suvidha, our community hygiene centres in Mumbai, provides safe, dignified, and hygienic sanitation services to over 2,00,000 people residing in low-income informal settlements. We built seven centres in partnership with the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai and HSBC India. We designed our centres with sustainability in mind. They are powered by solar energy and feature grey water treatment facilities that operate on circular economy principles to reduce freshwater use.
Moreover, by improving access to these essential hygiene services, Suvidha helps create positive health and mental well-being outcomes for the communities.
Developing water-conscious communities through Prabhat
Another key flagship programme, Prabhat, is our sustainable community development initiative. It implements projects to improve water sufficiency and enable efficient water management in water-stressed sites around our factories. Through Prabhat, we have worked towards improving water quality, rejuvenating water bodies and enhancing collaboration, knowledge sharing and governance practices among stakeholders locally.
So far, Prabhat has created a water potential of over 130 billion litres and improved livelihood, health, and education for more than 7 million people. Last year, we embarked on the journey to align our Water Conservation Program to the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Framework and will be implementing the projects with the AWS standards.
Innovating water-smart products
We’re creating water-smart products which make it easier for our consumers to use less water in their homes. Our water-saving formulations in laundry help reduce the water needed for rinsing in every consumer use.
As the world faces severe water scarcity, we must use our shared resources mindfully to have a secure, vibrant, and harmonious future. And businesses that prioritise water stewardship will not only grow but also contribute to creating a better future – one that is sustainable and equitable.