Water Congress: Project Suizagua presented its Water Saving Impacts in the Private Sector
With 34 projects developed by 10 companies from the private sector since 2013, the SuizAgua Chile Project has achieved savings of over 300,000 cubic meters of water per year, equivalent to the daily consumption of more than 2 million people.
Under the umbrella of the Water Congress 2019, Fundación Chile and El Agua Nos Une (“Water brings us together”) program of Suizagua Latin America Project, have developed the Seminar “Water Footprint, a more sustainable model of water resources”.
The need to move towards new forms of water management in Chile, the only country in Latin America classified with the highest risk of water scarcity by 2040, according to the World Resources Institute and the tenth most affected by Global Climate Change.
Andrés Pesce, VP of Business and Sustainability at FCh, has stated that “It is imperative to find new models of growth that are capable of decoupling from finite resources and the impact of climate change. We hope to provide a new perspective that attempts to address the water problem. There are no single solutions, but a set of measures in energy efficiency, conservation, and management”.
The project SuizAgua Andina Chile has worked in incorporating the private company into the water problem at territorial level, where it marks off its sphere of influence. The Corporate Social Responsibility (Responsabilidad Social Empresarial, RSE) contemplates a strategic view of the environment, with a “win-win” concept, which has been called RSEAgua.
The project SuizAgua Andina Chile has worked in incorporating the private company into the water problem at territorial level, where it marks off its sphere of influence. The Corporate Social Responsibility (Responsabilidad Social Empresarial, RSE) contemplates a strategic view of the environment, with a “win-win” concept, which has been called RSEAgua. In addition, it has promoted the Water Footprint Assessment through the ISO 14,046 methodology, an indicator that determines the physical volume of water required in the different production processes and assesses the impact on the territory in which they are located.
During the seminar, the initiative presented its results, which include 34 projects executed by 10 companies from the private sector since 2013, achieving savings of more than 300,000 m3 of water per year, equivalent to the daily consumption of over 2 million people.
Claudia Galleguillos, Head of Water Strategies at Fundación Chile, stressed that “The company’s role is to sustain its own processes and ensure proper water management, assuming a paradigm shift in sustainability and development. The internal gaze contemplates the measurement and key points where there is greater water expenditure to execute action plans. But efficiency measures are not enough if you do not work at a territorial level, with other companies and communities. That is what makes development sustainable”.
During the event, Polpaico’s successful were presented. They implemented a sewage treatment system in the township of Til Til to obtain suitable water for irrigation, which allowed the development of several entrepreneurship projects and improved the quality of life in the community. For his part, Gonzalo Bachelet, General Manager of Minuto Verde, stressed out the importance of placing sustainability as the center of business strategy.
Leslie Sarná, General Manager of Irrigadora Cerro Prieto in Peru, presented the successful experience of obtaining the Blue Certificate, model of private public incentive for water efficiency in the neighboring country.
In a panel moderated by Ulrike Broschek, Fundación Chile’s Water Scenarios 2030 Leader, alongside relevant actors from the industry and academia, discussed the challenges faced by decision-makers and public policy developers, as well as the private sector.
The agricultural sector consumes around 87% of the water in Chile, generates 12% of the country’s jobs and, simultaneously, is one of the most vulnerable sectors to climate change. That is why it is considered as a strategic focus to work on water efficiency and reducing the water gap existent in the country. The SuizAgua Chile project has focused a great part of its efforts in making and efficient use of water through the agro-industrial sector, where the intervention targets suppliers or farmers, as the first link in the chain and the main water consumers.
Ambrosio Yobánolo, deputy director of operations of the Sustainability and Climate Change Agency, said that “There is a growing concern in the agricultural sector on adaptation to climate change. We can see clear results from public policies in terms of mitigation, but not in adaptation”.
For his part, Carlos Descourvières, development manager of Chilealimentos, stated that “More than 10 years ago we started working on the water footprint. This is a very powerful tool to face problems in an associative way and in conjunction with the public sector. The challenge is how to integrate agricultural suppliers and farmers to implement more efficient systems and improve indicators on water use”.
Felipe de la Hoz, Director of the Water Center for Agriculture from Universidad de Concepción, stressed that “the task is to analyze the distribution and management of water resources. It is necessary to see how to satisfy the demand of the crop at the precise moment and to achieve this, it is necessary to strengthen the accompaniment in the process of technological adaptation”.
Finally, Alejandro Conza, representative of the NGO Agua Limpia Peru, highlighted that “we have witnessed the growing interest of several sectors in the efficient use of water, given it affects vulnerable businesses such as agro-industry, and goes beyond the environmental and socioeconomic impact. El Agua nos Une made tangible the visible and not visible use of water and put into action a reductive commitment, calling the private sector to leave their borders and to look at the suppliers”.