Co-op Group launches report on global water security at COP27

More than a quarter of the world’s population has no access to a safely managed drinking water service, UN data reveals

Co-op Group CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq launched a report on water security at a UN Climate Change Conference side event on 14 November.

The Water Security for People & Planet report highlights the retailer’s approach to reducing CO2 emissions and helping producers in low-income countries adapt to climate change and transition to low-carbon production. It also makes a series of recommendations for communities, businesses and governments around three key themes: water, sanitation and hygiene; water scarcity and water pollution.

It calls on all governments to deliver the 1.5 degree pathway set out in the Paris Agreement and commit to ensuring universal access to safe water sanitation and hygiene, including by signing the Fair Water Footprints 1 Declaration.

According to UN data, over 25% of the world’s population has no access to a safely managed drinking water service.

During the COP27 side event, Khoury-Haq described some of the Group’s initiatives to promote access to clean water, including its partnership with the One Foundation, which started 15 years ago and has funded over £17m of clean water, hygiene and sanitation projects in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Related: Co-op Group celebrates 10 years supporting One Foundation water projects in Africa

The Group donates 3p per litre to the One Foundation for every Co-op own-brand still, sparkling and flavoured bottle of water sold. Since 2017, half of the funding has been invested into Fairtrade producer communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the rest goes to the One Foundation’s priority programmes, with 10% reserved for direct emergency support through partners of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

In 2017 the Group joined efforts with non-profit Water Unite by becoming a founding signatory of the Global Investment Fund for Water (Water Unite), pledging to extend support to end water poverty. The retailer contributes 1p for every litre of branded water sold towards the fund.

“Over the course of our partnership with both of these organisations,” said Khoury-Haq, “Co-op and its branded water partners have raised a staggering £20m and that means that we invest directly in water security programmes in our own supply chain, in solutions for the lack of water security is key sourcing locations, and we’re able to respond to disasters to provide emergency relief.”

Organised by the World Resource Institute and the African Cities Water Adaptation Platform, the COP27 side event launched the African Cities Water Adaptation Fund (ACWA Fund) which aims to channel US$5bn to urban water resilience solutions in 100 African cities by 2032.

“African cities need to be at the forefront of our financing priorities,” said Wanjira Mathai, managing director for Africa and Global Partnerships at WRI. “Our goal with the ACWA Fund and Platform is to ensure city leaders have a go-to facility that is responsive to their needs.”