By Gabriela Burian
Global Lead, Sustainable Agriculture Environment
Together with my family, our dog and several of my colleagues, I assisted with cleaning up the Meramec River and vicinity in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., last week. One week later and more than 4,500 miles away from that river, I find myself in Stockholm, Sweden – again for water.
Most of the conversations that took place while cleaning in and around the Meramec River last week were related to workshops we are having in St. Louis. Workshops that focus on the challenge of cleaning what is already needed to survive and rethinking systems toward a world that collectively conserves more and, beyond that, reuses the waste of the so-called “circular economy.” We did some great work while having great conversations surrounding action.
This week, Stockholm becomes “the water capital of the world” as more than 4,000 people from the “water world” – NGOs, governments, academia and businesses from different countries – all convene at World Water Week in Stockholm.
I’m happy to report that this week we’re “walking the talk.” When we arrived, we received reusable bottles for water as well as a card for public transportation (which is electric!). And all together at the conference center, we’ve been working to rethink process, actions and systems as a society.
I’m also extremely proud to be here representing Monsanto and the agriculture sector. There’s a lot to be done and being part of the dialogue is crucial. But being part of the dialogue is only part of solution. Also important is evaluating systems and working to find new solutions. This is what our team at Monsanto and our partners are doing – we are looking for solution that can help to feed more than 7 billion people today and another 2 billion people by 2050, while using less water than we are using for agriculture now.
As we work on solutions that help produce nutritious and delicious food for our kids while preserving natural resources, we need to be better prepared. And this is why capacity building is so important. Paradigm shift needs to happen in order to make the necessary changes.
Across Monsanto and with our partners we’re proud to see projects focusing on water, including some related to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) Business Ecosystems Training, which are becoming reality in countries such as Brazil, India, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Netherlands and USA. It’s great to see more employees interested to better understand the interface between business and ecosystems.
Through our partnership with the WBCSD, its members and others, Monsanto advocates for sustainable agriculture. We also were the first agriculture company to sign WBCSD’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) pledge. This is a simple action that reinforces our long-standing commitment to ensuring safe water, sanitation and hygiene for employees. With the WBCSD, we hope others will make this commitment and continue to improve lives.
Through people, process, solutions and partnership we’re looking for more sustainable solutions to help address the new challenges that our society is facing through collective action.
From more crop per drop (while preserving the water quality) to the call for action in agriculture, changes are starting to happen. But we have to do more.
We can make an incredible environmental difference, but we can’t do it alone. We must work together. As World Water Week comes to a close, I encourage you to continue working to implement solutions for best water practices and share learning with others – at home and at work.
Water is the world’s most precious resource. We need it to survive. We need it to thrive. We must act!