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Article

8 May 2015

Author:
Eliza Roberts & Brooke Barton, Ceres

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[Examples of links between food companies & access to water:]

Increased conflict with other water users & loss of social license to operate. Water shortages amplify reputational issues for companies who are seen as competing with local communities for access to water supplies. This can lead to the loss of a company’s social license to operate, business disruption and brand damage. The Coca-Cola Company decided not to move forward on the development of an $81 million bottling plant in southern India in April 2015 due to resistance from local farmers who cited concerns about strains on local ground water supplies. Even in water-rich regions, companies perceived as using water unfairly may be exposed to reputational risk or loss ofcommunity support.

Inadequate delivery of water and sanitation by government to local communities enhances perceptions of inequity of access and harms corporate community relationships, potentially restricting a company’s ability to operate or grow. This is becoming a bigger issue as access to water becomes more widely recognized as a human rights

Only seven companies—all of them in the packaged food and beverage sector—acknowledged that access to drinking water and sanitation are fundamental human rights. Having provide dformal recognition that water is a human right as voted upon by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2010, some companies are following suit by evaluating the human rights impacts of their water management practices