Several European firms, including Fidelity and DWS, have pledged to engage with 72 companies on water usage and pollution.
Sixty-four institutional investors representing $9.8tn (€9.6tn) have joined the newly formed Valuing Water Finance Initiative to tackle the global water crisis and view water as a financial risk.
Launched by the non-profit Ceres, the coalition will engage with 72 of the world’s biggest corporate water users and polluters, including Unilever, McDonald’s and the Coca-Cola Company, to push for the large-scale changes needed to protect water systems.
The list of focus companies does not only include global food and beverage giants, but also fast-fashion brands such as H&M, Levi’s, Burberry and Louis Vuitton. It also targets several popular tech companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet and Amazon.
Signatories of the coalition have pledged to engage with these companies on six science-based corporate expectations to ensure:
the integration of good water management throughout the business;
secure access to water and sanitation across value chains;
the protection of ecosystems critical to the freshwater supplies linked to their business;
that their practices don’t negatively impact water quality and water availability.
While US impact firms and state pension funds dominate the list of signatories, several high-profile European asset management firms have also signed up, including Aviva Investors, DNB Asset Management, DWS Investment, Fidelity International, Man Group, Lombard Odier, Pictet Group, SEB Investment Management and Actiam.
Franklin Templeton, Pictet and Federated Hermes are the only large US asset managers to sign up.
‘The water crisis is playing out across the US and around the world in many ways, from severe drought and pollution to inadequate access to safe drinking water, all of which disproportionately impact our most vulnerable communities,’ said Mindy Lubber, CEO and president of Ceres.
‘The private sector must recognise water’s importance for their institutions and investments lest they further expose themselves and society to increased material water risk.’
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