Published 6 years ago.
About a 6 minute read.
Riant, who recently retired from P&G, spent more than 36 years at the multinational company, growing its business in various national, regional and global roles. I met him recently when he became interested in **Gone Adventurin’**s model to integrate sustainability into the core of business – a vision he also passionately believes in.
One of the examples he discussed was how a few years back P&G had developed a water-purification technology in a powder – an innovation that quickly transforms 10 litres of dirty, potentially deadly water into clean and drinkable. The packet was invented by P&G laundry scientists who were originally separating dirt from used laundry water, but in doing so also invented a breakthrough technology that can enable people anywhere in the world to purify dirty water in a simple, affordable and convenient way.
While there’s been speculation that Asia’s next major conflict will be over fresh water, the potential dangers of inability to access clean water does indeed have serious consequences.
For most of us living in cities with relatively constant access to clean water, life without this precious resource is not a pressing issue. However the ground realities across the continent tell a very different story.
In 2015, the World Economic Forum ranked water crises as the number-one Global Risk. 4 billion people – two-thirds of the global population – are currently facing water scarcity, and nearly half of them live in India and China.
Asia is particularly vulnerable – it has less fresh water per person than any other continent, along with the worst water pollution. The recent drought that hit parts of Southeast and South Asia was the worst in decades – affecting Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and India, and claiming several lives.
While that reality is challenging, the scale of the problem and Asia’s innate thirst for innovation means that several grassroots solutions are already in various stages of development, addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation:
Larger companies and non-profits have also begun to spearhead change in impacting water in Asia. In 2006, Water.org approached PepsiCo to help scale ‘WaterCredit’ – an initiative that brings safe water and sanitation facilities to India’s poor. The resulting pilot exceeded expectations and a further grant of $8m from PepsiCo promises to provide 800,000 people with access to safe water this year.
Local researchers, too, are making headway in water. In 2015, National University of Singapore researchers developed a new membrane, inspired by the roots of mangrove trees, that makes water purification highly efficient – and can potentially lower purification costs by 30 percent!
And while regional, medium-sized companies such as Hyflux in Singapore and Manila Water in the Philippines are innovating new business models around water, we also see global companies such as Unilever and P&G collaborating actively with local startups and NGOs to increase access to sanitation and reduce water consumption of their products. In short, water continues to be a great driver of business innovation and growth.
This article is part of our monthly series of insights to help business leaders discover business value through a social and environmental purpose. Download our latest report on WATER in Asia.
This post first appeared on the Gone Adventurin’ blog on July 30, 2016.
Published Jan 10, 2017 4pm EST / 1pm PST / 9pm GMT / 10pm CET