New ‘Water Roadmap’ targets water security for the food and drink sector

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WRAP, in partnership with WWF, The Rivers Trust and many other supporting organisations, has launched the ‘Roadmap towards Water Security for the Food & Drink Supply’ (the ‘Water Roadmap’) to protect vital water resources for the benefit of nature, local communities and the food and drink sector. Co-ordinated by WRAP, the Water Roadmap will be delivered by a coalition of water stewardship expert bodies, on-the-ground delivery agencies and UK food and drink organisations. The Roadmap builds on the success of the Courtauld Commitment Water Ambition to deliver even more ambitious changes across the food system in support of the new Courtauld Commitment 2030 target and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Karen Fisher, Head of Climate Action Strategy at WRAP said: The facts around the threats to water quality and availability are stark and will be worsened by climate change. All organisations that rely on water resources have a duty to take action to protect them and we must act now. Water is a shared resource, impacted by a wide range of users and critical to sustain nature and local communities. Given the necessity of water to produce our food and drink and the scale of water use for food production globally, it is vital that as an industry we set a goal for action. The Water Roadmap provides a practical mechanism for food and drink businesses to know what actions they can most meaningfully take to help achieve this goal. I urge other organisations to join those that have already given their commitment to help protect this critical resource.”

The new Water Roadmap directly addresses the climate risk and food security issues surrounding water stewardship whilst highlighting the need for urgent adaptation and action.

It includes:

  • The actions organisations need to take individually and collectively.
  • The milestones that we need UK food and drink businesses to reach.
  • The delivery and governance framework.
  • The reporting framework.

A total of 65 supporters, including 50 food & drink organisations such as Asda, Co-op, Coca Cola GB, M&S, Nestle UK & Ireland, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, are already supporting the Water Roadmap, and WRAP is calling for more to join this growing movement of companies, who are committed to taking action on water.

David Edwards, Director of Food Strategy, WWF-UK said: “The Roadmap towards Water Security for Food & Drink Supply is a world-leading example of a whole-sector commitment to address water challenges in shared sourcing landscapes. The Roadmap recognises that it is only through working together towards common goals and addressing the management of water at a catchment scale, can we genuinely achieve sustainability for water in our fruit and vegetable imports.”

As highlighted in the recent IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, the need for climate adaptation actions, as well as emissions reductions, has never been greater. WRAP advocates that water security and supply should be central to the climate crisis discussion: agricultural supply chains use 70% of global freshwater resources, and the UN predicts that global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40% by 2030. Climate change is increasing pressures further, with more unpredictable weather and the disruption faced from both water scarcity and flooding. Protecting water resources is therefore a critical concern for the food and drink supply, the protection of nature and local communities and to aid the achievement of Net Zero.

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