That’s the question Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, tackled in CEBC’s public forum —Global Water Challenges and Minnesota Business. Most take water for granted, but some 2.5 billion people lack access to safe sanitation and 800 million to safe drinking water, which raises the question of a human right to water.
Climate change is affecting water supplies and our vast infrastructure of water systems, and – with 80% of human water withdrawal going to agriculture – food supplies as well. Regional water shortages and global trade in products that consume water increase the risk of conflicts around the world. Gleick urged corporate and public decision makers to be intentional in shaping water and energy policies because the two are interconnected.
Panelists Jerry Lynch and Emilio Tenuta, top sustainability executives for General Mills and Ecolab respectively, highlighted innovations and responsible business practices focusing on supply chain engagement, shifting from a mindset of conservation to one of water stewardship, and the necessity of partnering with multiple stakeholders to deal with complex water challenges.