The water crisis is one of the biggest global challenges of today. To face that and other pressing global issues, the United Nations had instituted The Decade of Action, a time frame up to 2030 that forces all to act quickly to face global challenges.

Our collective challenge is to ensure a life with clean and reliable water, and for that, there needs to be intelligent and efficient management of this resource. It is not an easy task, but it is a matter of public interest that depends on a coordinated effort. It starts with each one. And we have to start now. This is not a topic for the future. It is a topic that needs to be addressed in today's agenda.

It is known that pollution, the worsening of climate change, and the pressure of daily demands of the water - a valuable and limited resource - is excessive. Too many factors contribute to the degradation of a natural ecosystem and, consequently, to the growing risk of accentuating how quickly water is running out world-while, and, in particular, in Portugal.

This situation goes beyond the local and national scope, considering the direct and indirect volumes of water that, due to their various functions, are necessary to ensure our daily habits. There are billions of people who make daily use of water in their homes and all the production chains of a product or service, and the subsequent supply to the market, in one way or another, generate very significant water flows. Industry, the energy sector, or agriculture are the ones that most consume this resource, which, let us not forget, sustains all economic and social activities and no longer can regenerate itself.

But how can we have an alert system? How to take care of this precious, scarce, and essential resource for humanity?

While many are already doing the maths, others less so, so we are at the key moment to understand what the real consumptions are, identify internal and external vulnerabilities, establish metrics, plan and act. Only by being aware of the impacts and based on factual information, we can seriously consider reducing the water footprint of countries, companies and institutions, and consumers.

I am optimistic and argue that there is already a collective awareness conducive to change and that together it will be possible for us to continue to generate effective contributions to the preservation and recovery of natural resources. But it is necessary to promote water-related issues so that everyone can join efforts in favor of sustainable ecosystems to protect this resource.

This is the belief of the Super Bock Group. Companies cannot just look “inside”. Brands must have a participative and active role in society, precisely because we live as a community in an era of globalization that demands respect for the planet and resources such as water. 

I identify three priorities that have governed our performance in the area of Sustainability:

Incorporation of Sustainability into the organization – leaders must unequivocally assume sustainable development and, given this commitment, mobilize the right talent to think and implement new solutions. Talent is the greatest competitive advantage for a more sustainable future, in terms of business growth and necessary changes in society.

Promotion of investment in R&D and cooperation - to “do it differently” – more and better – it is necessary to be able to invest in development and innovation. As an industry and part of a very active sector, the Super Bock Group favors collaborative contexts inside and outside the organization, which allows us to establish partnerships that challenge us to rethink, redesign and find new, more sustainable solutions throughout the entire value chain.

In the path of reducing our ecological footprint (for the company and its brands), there has been, in fact, a great strategic effort on our part. The efficient use of water at the Super Bock Group is, and always has been, one of our priorities and, as such, we have developed studies and projects in the water area at the company's various production centers. As a result of this investment, between 2010 and 2018 we have already managed to reduce around 25% of the organization's specific water consumption, in other words, more than 3.8 million cubic meters, equivalent to the annual water consumption in the municipality of Vila do Conde, which has approximately 80 thousand resident people.

We also have one of the best ratios in the brewing industry in Europe: 3 liters of water for every 1 liter of beer produced (since the raw material enters the company until the product leaves), but our ambition is to achieve a further 13% reduction until 2025.

Additionally, we seek to offset more than 40% of our water consumption through reforestation and protect the natural ecosystems where we have our Pedras and Vitalis water brands.

Naturally, all this cannot be done individually. We understand that only by working together is it possible to find the best practices and encourage change and more responsible behavior.

Due to the impact on our operation, we reinforce the work that we develop closely with national farmers, which encourages and encourages the production of couplet barley in Portugal and includes a strong water recovery component, in which we aim to save more than 300 thousand m3/year of this resource in the value chain.

And we favor other wider collaboration networks, with different public and private entities and, to that extent, we are, by way of example, founding members of the “Pacto para a Gestão da Água”, launched by CATÓLICA-LISBON, and we are part of the Portuguese Pact for Plastics. 

Promotion of more responsible consumption – companies and mass consumption brands play an important role with the consumer, which goes beyond sharing sustainability messages. At the crucial moment in which we find ourselves, when the need to encourage change in individual behavior is clear, I believe it will be up to the sector to also guide consumers towards smarter and more responsible options. Remembering, of course, the importance of correct recycling packaging or other waste, which, once again, minimizes the use of natural resources, such as water.

Have we done enough? I believe we are on the right path. We must continue with our common and coordinated effort to deepen our knowledge and find best practices, namely those associated with efficient and intelligent water management.

It depends on all of us.
On each one of us.

Have a great and impactful week!

Graça Borges
Director of Communications, Institutional Relationships, and Sustainability at Super Bock Group

This article refers to edition #93 of the "Have a Great and Impactful Week" Newsletter.
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