New Zealand's clean green image could be damaged if our
freshwater is not managed sustainably.
That warning came yesterday from Nick Main, a former chairman
of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable
Development, during a talk at the University of Otago's
latest annual Foreign Policy School.
Many multinational companies were now well aware of the
significant risks they faced through growing international
pressure on freshwater supplies, and the need to use water
sustainably, he said.
He noted a Coca-Cola bottling operation in India had recently
faced closure and licensing issues, through community
concerns about water shortages in the area.
In his talk on ''Water Scarcity: business risks and
opportunities'', Mr Main said some big overseas companies
already realised that growing water scarcities could disrupt
their operations, and also harm their reputations.
New Zealand had a plentiful supply of freshwater, compared
with many other countries, but pressures on that resource
were also being felt here.
Our export and tourist industries ultimately depended on our
clean green image, and big companies such as Fonterra knew
that our reputation could be harmed if freshwater was not
''It's really important issue.''
He warned that ''silver bullets don't exist'', but said
collaboration between the Government and its agencies,
businesses and the community was crucial in finding
And new business opportunities were emerging from resource
Multinational company Unilever was not only emphasising
sustainable water use in its own operations, but was also
helping people in developing countries to gain access to
better quality water by providing affordable household water
purifiers, he said.
Dr David Tickner, the English-based chief freshwater adviser
at WWF-UK, also gave a talk yesterday, about foreign policy
and ''the global water crisis''.
He worked with companies on aspects of the sustainable use of
water and land, and business could help by following and
promoting sustainable practices, he said in an interview.
Companies often responded more positively to approaches that
highlighted their business ''risk'' , instead of simply
focusing on ''the environment'', he said.
More than 100 people attended the university school, which
this year focused on ''Global Resource Scarcity: Catalysis
for Conflict or Collaboration?''The event, which was hosted
at St Margaret's College, ended yesterday.