The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), in collaboration with the United Nations Global Compact Nigeria (UNGC) and the CEO Water Mandate on Monday, June 7, 2021, held a webinar tagged “Private Sector Imperatives for Sustainable Water Resources Management in Nigeria” to mark the World Environment Day.
In his welcome address, the CEO of NESG, Mr. ‘Laoye Jaiyeola, observed that businesses in Nigeria and across the world experience water shortages, drought and pollution. He said the webinar aligns with the world environment global theme for 2021 tagged ‘Ecosystem Restoration’.
Mr Jaiyeola said the webinar would identify opportunities for the private sector to work towards sustainable water resources management, adding that the CEO Water Mandate was launched last year to encourage businesses to participate in the sustainable development of water resources to meet human and business needs.
According to the NESG CEO, the day’s webinar was a crucial step towards establishing a private sector working group that would facilitate synergy across the sustainability sector.
In her opening remarks, Chairperson, UNGC Nigeria and Director, Corporate Affairs & Sustainable Business at Unilever Nigeria PLC, Mrs. Soromidayo George, said the UNGC recognizes the need for business leaders, through the CEO Water Mandate, to work towards providing potable water and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Mrs. George said the current economic climate provides a platform for a sustainable business approach to water management, considering that about 70 percent of the earth’s landmass is covered with water, making it an crucial resource for life sustenance.
She, however, warned that water scarcity and pollution threaten a healthy ecosystem, create severe human challenges and put businesses at risk of flooding, drought and weak governance. For this reason, she explained that the global theme of World Environment Day aligns with the objectives of the CEO Water Mandate.
The CEO Nestle Nigeria and NESG Board Member, Mr. Wassim Elhusseni, said water is a precious resource essential to life, which explains why the long-term success of Nestle is built on sustainable water stewardship and resource management.
In his estimation, Nestle is committed to managing water resources and continually striving for sustainable water management through reduction of water usage in its production processes, water treatment/reuse and rainwater harvesting.
Managing Director/CEO, Heineken Nigeria, Mr. Jordi Borrut Bel, also disclosed that Heineken Nigeria aims to use less water in its production processes since the company is often located in areas prone to water scarcity.
Mr. Bel said Heineken advances this strategy by reducing water usage, recycling and removing contaminants and restoring chemical balances from wastewater that return to streams and rivers.
He emphasized the need for companies to collaborate in ensuring effective water resources management.
In her remarks, Assistant Professor, School of Law, University of Bradford and Member, Water and Sanitation Thematic Group, NESG Infrastructure Policy Commission, Dr. Pedi Obani, said opportunities abound for the private sector to harness water resources. She explained that they could achieve this mandate through socially and environmentally responsible re-use of water, water conservation and protection of water resources.
In line with this effort, Dr. Obani encouraged private sector players to rebrand their operations in ensuring investments speak to economic issues and the environment by amplifying and upscaling the impact of their activities.
She emphasized that private-sector players implement environmental and institutional reforms that create opportunities they can harness as suppliers, drivers, consumers and investors in their quest for more commitment to water resources management in Nigeria.
During the question-and-answer session, Director, Public Affairs, The End Fund, Mrs. Oyetola Oduyemi, said her organization welcomes insights on the economic implications of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDAs) and how they could be leveraged to facilitate water resources management.
Executive Director, UN Global Compact (Nigeria), Ms. Naomi Nwokolo, restated the need to implement and institutionalise the CEO Water Mandate, highlighting the NESG collaboration with the UNGC to establish a private sector working group scheduled for inauguration in July to advance sustainable businesses in Nigeria.
In his closing remarks, NESG Board Member/ Facilitator, Infrastructure Policy Commission and CEO, Agon Continental Limited, Mr. Nnanna Ude, said water is central to human development and assured the NESG remains committed to water sustainability and resource management.