SABMiller Pushes UN to Tackle Climate Change Effects in Latin America

By Damien Ramkissoon

There is an immediate need for more businesses to recognize the risks water scarcity poses to their company’s bottom line and the communities in which they operate in Latin America, according to a leading SABMiller executive.

Speaking at the Sustainable Innovation Forum, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, Fernando Zavala, the South African brewer's Peru Managing Director, stressed the increasing risks water scarcity poses to business and society, while also talking about the economic, social and environmental benefits of tackling climate change and investing in water security in the region.

More than 70% of the global brewer’s business is in developing markets, many of which already suffer from water scarcity.

Through its new sustainable development strategy, Prosper, SABMiller has set itself demanding targets to reduce water use and its carbon footprint throughout its whole value chain, from grain to glass. Now it is calling other businesses in the region to do the same.

Leading a closed VIP Roundtable with leaders from NGOs, multilaterals, government and other businesses on water scarcity today, Mr Zavala said: “Investing in the security of water in Latin America isn’t just an environmental issue – it’s a very real business risk, and an investment which contributes to our profits. It is in our interest to work with other businesses, local communities, and governments to tackle shared water risks in the region to secure and replenish the water basins we all depend on.”

Mr Zavala highlighted Latin America’s water challenges, a region which accounts for one-third of SABMiller’s profits - as a pertinent case study: “While abundant, water is often in the wrong place throughout Latin America, in areas of low population density. In Lima, for example, the 2nd driest city after Cairo, Egypt, nearly 15% of the population has no access to the water network and depends on more expensive ways of obtaining water. In Peru, like in our other markets, we are committed to growing sustainably - water security has become an important element of our work.”

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