Blue Certificate: The Public-Private Partnership to Address Sustainable Water Management Challenges

● On World Water Day, the government and unions signed a voluntary agreement to promote and strengthen corporate water management and reduce the water footprint in Chile’s productive sectors.

● Over 150 companies from the agricultural, mining, processed food, commerce, wine, retail, fishing, technology, and health industries are interested in participating in this initiative, which opens its adhesion process on April 26.

The public-private management “Blue Certificate” Clean Production Agreement, promoted by Corfo’s Sustainability and Climate Change Agency and Fundación Chile, will allow articulating actions with companies from different sectors of the national economy on matters of integral and sustainable management of water resources in production processes and services, within a maximum period of 36 months to obtain the highest level of certification.

Through seven specific goals, which involve the use of tools associated with the measurement of the water footprint, information management and social responsibility of water, prioritizing priorities and encouraging the necessary investment, it also seeks to improve the efficiency, productivity and environmental performance of companies, enabling them to position themselves as responsible, resilient, and committed to their environment.

The signing of the voluntary agreement was attended by Javier Naranjo, Undersecretary of the Environment; Pablo Terrazas, Vice-President of Corfo; Arno Wicki, Ambassador of Switzerland; Giovanni Calderón, Executive Director of the Sustainability and Climate Change Agency; the superintendent of the Environment, Cristóbal de la Maza, Fundación Chile’s CEO, Marcos Kulka, the President of the National Society of Agriculture, Ricardo Ariztía, the President of Sonami, Diego Hernández, Prochile’s CEO, Jorge O’Ryan, and Gonzalo Bachelet, Vice-President of Chilealimentos.

On the occasion, the Minister of the Environment, Carolina Schmidt, underscored that the initiative is part of the new NDC presented almost a year ago at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and complements the Huella Chile Program. “In Chile we have an enormous challenge in terms of water management, but we know that with coordinated work by the public sector and the promotion of alliances with the private and local sectors, initiatives such as the Blue Certificate will be gradually complemented with others currently under development so as to have concrete actions to address the immense water crisis we currently face,” said the authority.

Pablo Terrazas, Corfo’s Vice President, stated that “our country confronts important challenges related to water, so this public-private collaboration is fundamental to tackle the current economic challenges and for the country to advance towards a sustainable reactivation, to which we at Corfo are highly committed. All of us, from different areas, must be able to contribute to the proposed goals, which will undoubtedly help improve the competitiveness and productivity of our companies in an environment that demands ever greater respect for the environment.”

The Executive Director of the Sustainability and Climate Change Agency, Giovanni Calderón, said that “this initiative is a fundamental milestone and is part of our awareness that water is a scarce resource and at the same time fundamental for the development of all productive activities. Its use must be efficient, very rational, and based on basic needs. It is a real privilege for us to be able to offer this instrument, which is gradual in its application, in order to cover the whole chain of the productive system.”

Marcos Kulka, Fundación Chile’s CEO, said that “the Blue Certificate represents an excellent opportunity for companies in the diverse productive sectors to take a significant step towards sustainable water management, a highly relevant aspect if we consider that an important part of the national territory -76%- is going through one of the worst droughts in history. The pandemic showed, even more, the gap caused by the lack of water access. As Fundación Chile we are working hard for the sustainable reactivation of the country and water security is key.”

Graduality and Collaboration

The Blue Certificate is based on two principles: gradualness and collaboration. All companies, regardless of their size, can take part in this challenge, in a progressive and gradual manner. Companies can also support their suppliers in improving water management.

Through this instrument, companies also undertake to implement a shared value plan in the territories where they are located, related to the impacts of the water footprint.

The voluntary agreement involves the Ministry of the Environment, the Superintendency of the Environment, the General Directorate of Water, INDAP, Corfo, Prochile, the Sustainability and Climate Change Agency, Chilealimentos, Sofofa, Asimet, the National Society of Agriculture, and the National Mining Society.

The Agreement was developed within the framework of the SuizAgua project of the Latin American Program “Water Unites Us” and is aligned with the SDG #6 of the 2030 Agenda established by the UN, which indicates ensuring the availability of water, its sustainable management and sanitation for all, as well as with SDG #17, related to the promotion of public-private cooperation to achieve the other 16 SDGs.

In this joint work, the Water Footprint tool (ISO 14,046) will be applied to identify and reduce by at least 5% the impacts of the main critical points and the design of actions to reduce the use of water. Water efficiency practices and reduction measures will also be implemented in production chains.

On the other hand, the Chilean Tax Authority accepted the recognition of expenses incurred in the Blue Certificate certification process as income deductible, marking a relevant change in the way companies participate in water management in Chile, encouraging public-private investment in water solutions internally in their processes, but also in their supply chain and the environment..

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