Conserving water, improving water quality and promoting access to clean water
Water is a finite and irreplaceable resource. Currently, about 70% of annual freshwater usage is attributed to food production. Unfortunately, water shortages affect more than 40% of the global population and are projected to rise.
Agriculture is how we advance water stewardship and reduce emissions, ensuring a safe, secure and sustainable food system. Cargill has an important leadership role to play, working with partners across our value chain, to accelerate sustainable water solutions that protect water quality and quantity to promote access to clean water.
We partner with farmers, customers and NGOs to encourage farming practices that improve water quality and availability, while supporting farmer livelihoods and community resilience.
We will focus our efforts on improving water availability and quality in the supply chains and regions where we can drive positive change.
Water is a complex global issue that requires a local approach.
Water challenges vary across the regions where we operate. We source raw materials and range from having too much water, to not enough water even poor water quality and access. We will focus our efforts where it matters most, and where we can drive change: water usage in our operations and in the priority watersheds where we operate and source from.
Cargill’s global ambition is to achieve sustainable water management in all priority watersheds in operations and supply chains by 2030 by applying a context-based approach. We define sustainable water management as effectively balancing and addressing the shared water challenges of availability, quality and access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), using an approach that is informed by local context.
Cargill’s water targets
- Restore 600 billion liters of water in priority watersheds.
- Reduce 5 million kg of water pollutants in priority watersheds.
- Implement our Water Stewardship program at all 81* priority facilities.
- Improve access to safe drinking water in 25 priority watersheds.
Cargill will deploy a context-based approach to driving measurable improvement on water outcomes.
Our targets are science-based, and our actions will reflect the severity of the water challenges faced by that community and watershed, and our contribution to those challenges.
Priority watersheds are selected through a global assessment of our supply chains and operational footprint for exposure to the water challenges.
Our target setting approach, was developed in close partnership with the World Resources Institute. To learn more about the process we took with the World Resources Institute to set our targets, click here or you can read the case study published by the World Resources Institute, Developing Enterprise Water Targets Informed by Local Contexts: Cargill’s Approach.
The 81* Cargill priority facilities were selected based on water stress and water usage. Together they account for more than 80% of our total operational water use.
Within our own facilities: Within our operations, we have implemented a set of global requirements for water that address our commitment ensuring access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, and guarantee understanding, compliance and reporting of water usage, impact and risk.
Cargill has completed water risk assessments for our operations and identified 81* priority facilities. We will implement our Water Stewardship program at all 81* priority facilities by 2025. Our Water Stewardship program is a set of best practices and goals aligned to the Alliance for Water Stewardship standard.
Across our supply chain: Cargill is committed to work with farmers and other partners to advance sustainable practices that improve soil health, and water resiliency and quality. Many of those solutions also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase farmer prosperity. Enhancing soil health yields multiple benefits for the farmer and directly ties to other Cargill key sustainability priorities of climate change and farmer prosperity.
Communities: Access to clean and safe water, is fundamental for communities to thrive. We will take action to improve community access to water in alignment with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 6. Cargill is also, a proud signatory of the CEO Water Mandate and a member of the Water Resilience Coalition. Both are UN Global Compact initiatives that mobilize business leaders on water, sanitation and the Sustainable Development Goals. Our strategy aligns with the six core focus areas outlined by the Mandate.
*The number of priority facilities may change over time due to acquisitions, divestitures or significant changes to our operations.