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Nestlé Chairman focuses on global water and food security at Harvard


Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe addressed the issues of global water and food security at Harvard Kennedy School in the United States last week.

Focusing his presentation on ‘Global Water and Food Security: A new role for the private sector’, Mr Brabeck-Letmathe outlined the immediate problem of worldwide water shortage and the importance and impact of food security, on October 28.

Mr Brabeck-Letmathe highlighted the Company’s role in tackling such vital issues and said: “Good Food Good Life: this is why we from Nestlé are actively involved in the discussion on water – not all aspects of it, but those parts of the water issue that endanger food security in particular.”

Julio Frenk, Dean of Harvard School of Public Health, introduced the event with a number of panellists including Rebecca Henderson, of Harvard Business School; Rob Paarlberg, of Harvard Kennedy School and Wellesley College; and John Briscoe, of Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Mr Brabeck-Letmathe emphasised that the issue of water scarcity is paramount to Nestlé, which has been involved in a report called Charting Our Water Future released in November 2009, by the 2030 Water Resources Group. It acts as a fact-based tool to help stakeholders make informed investment decisions and guide policy discussions on the issue of water scarcity.

Following a year-long collaboration involving McKinsey & Company and other organisations, the report was developed to take a first step in providing greater clarity on the scale and cost of the solution to water scarcity.

He explained: “We have to avoid the crisis, and the 2030 Water Resources Group has developed the tool with which to do so – the water cost curve. In individual river basins, about 150 different levers to reduce water withdrawals or increase availability at the right time are compared. They are then lined up according to the cost per cubic metre of water saved.

“For the first time water scarcity can be addressed with coherent, fact-based information. The curves show that the gap expected by 2030 can be closed, and closing the gap is affordable – even for India.”

Presented in Washington, and then in January this year in Davos, Mr Brabeck-Letmathe added that the tool demonstrated the impact of the Group. He added: “We received signs of interest from a significant number of governments at the highest political level, necessary because so many different stakeholders and ministries need to be involved in any such measures.”


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