Stepping Up on Water Stewardship Action

24 May 2022

Demonstrating the role of businesses in responsible water stewardship is an essential component of the global food and beverages sector as it operates at the centre of the world’s growing water crisis. The recognition that water risks cannot be tackled only at the site level, is growing and the concept of water stewardship is building momentum. Addressing water risks requires working collaboratively with public sector, civil society as well as other private sector organisations working in the same catchment.

Unilever, a leading Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company with a long-standing commitment towards sustainability issues, water stewardship is about taking action to counteract the impact from their products and operations, and about working with others to achieve sustainability goals. Unilever defined a goal to implement water stewardship programs in 100 of its most water-stressed areas by 2030, including their 6 sites in Cikarang, Indonesia.

PT Unilever Indonesia Tbk, following an AWS Standard pre-assessment of their Cikarang sites by ERM, worked together with Yayasan AWS Indonesia and Royal HaskoningDHV, to develop a water stewardship action plan for these 6 sites. This plan aims to provide Unilever Indonesia with practical pathways towards good water stewardship implementation at site and catchment level.

This project resulted in a set of recommendations for a high-level Good Water Stewardship Action Plan focusing on Unilever’s priority topics on water and addresses strategic risks in the catchment, such as on-site water circularity, strengthening internal governance to maintain compliance on water and supporting the provision of access to safe WASH for workers and local communities.

On 19th of April, the final recommended Action Plan was presented in a workshop in Unilever Indonesia’s Cikarang site and attended by the sites’ manufacturing department and Unilever Indonesia sustainability team. The workshop successfully harnessed positive feedback for the Action Plan, especially capturing Unilever Indonesia’s ambition to show leadership on on-site water efficiency and circularity and towards becoming a responsible water steward at catchment level through its various sustainability programs.

Water stewardship is about taking action to counteract the impact from our products and operations and about collaborations with others to strengthen the whole system. In line with the Unilever Compass’ commitment to protect and regenerate nature, by 2030 we commit to implement water stewardship programs in 100 locations in water-stressed areas where we operate.In Indonesia we will increase our water efficiency and water circularity by reducing losses and increasing re-use of water at site and between sites. We will also ensure policy compliance in own operations, as well as ensuring continuous improvements of our policies and procedures throughout our operations. In addition, our WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) and rainwater harvesting programs are aimed to support health and wellbeing of the people in the surrounding environment. It is important for us to have responsible water management to ensure water sustainability for future generations.

(Nurdiana Darus, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director - PT Unilever Indonesia, Tbk)

Adopting water stewardship is a critical step toward bringing Unilever's compass vision to life. Not only helping the environment, but the action also adds value to the people for green future.

(Tyagita Wisnuyadi, Country SHE Manager - PT Unilever Indonesia, Tbk)

We currently see an increased awareness within the industry on sustainability, including water-use, at many places around the world. It is great to see that PT Unilever Indonesia is really stepping up on Water Stewardship in Indonesia. We are looking forward to further supporting them and others in improving water performance to ensure future water availability.

(Martijn Schlepers, Project Manager – Royal HaskoningDHV)

The resulting Action Plan and the workshop has provided useful insights for Unilever Indonesia’s further decision-making for the Cikarang water stewardship program. This includes both site-level actions and more active leadership towards joint action on water security and climate resilience at catchment level as part of the Indonesia Water Coalition.

This activity is supported by Australian Water Partnership.