27 April 2009

Nestle Saves the World

According to this morning's press release, Nestle is going to make the world a better place with three initiatives:
The initiatives include an expanded education programme focused on nutrition, health and wellness for school age children around the world, a research and development centre in Africa, and a new Nestle Prize in Creating Shared Value, awarded every other year to foster innovative approaches to solve problems of nutrition, water and rural development.
It seems that the "water" component involves giving money to support NGOs that work on innovative projects that "reduce water use." That's an interesting phrase, given that MOST people in African countries suffer from poor QUALITY water, not using "too much" -- unless you are a farmer growing non-Nestle crops. In that situation, Nestle is probably happy to find ways to reduce your "excessive" water use...

For an interesting lesson in cutting-edge corporate PR (?), check out Creating Shared Value.org, Nestle's PR portal "an open community resource," where "Together...we can tackle some of the worlds’ biggest problems in water, nutrition and rural development." Note that "open community resource" merely means that material on the site (from Nestle's business units) is provided under the Creative Commons license.

Tomorrow (28 Apr), you can watch people Nestle has chosen give their perspectives on four topics (times for Eastern US):
  • 9-11 am: Creating Shared Value: Can Shareholder & Society’s Interests be Aligned?
  • 11-12:45: Water: The Growing Water Security Crisis: Needed Solutions in Policy & Action
  • 1:45-3:15pm: Rural Development & Food Production: Needed Solutions in Policy & Action
  • 3:45–5:30pm: Translating Greater Food Production into Better Nutrition & Quality Diets
During the water component, you can listen to:
  • Ger Bergkamp, Director General of the World Water Council.* He brings 20 years of experience serving the water community, most recently at the IUCN (The World Conservation Union).
  • Anders Berntell, Executive Director at the Stockholm International Water Institute. Mr. Berntell, a biologist by training, has worked within the environmental field for more than 20 years. Prior to joining SIWI he was Water Director at the Swedish Ministry of the Environment.
  • Parviz Koohafkan, Director of the Land and Water Division, Food and Agricultural Organization.
  • Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation. The first African to hold this office, he joined the then LWF Department of World Service in 1982, and was Director of the Department of Church Cooperation, later called Department for Mission and Development, from 1987 until 1994.
  • Gerd Leipold, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. He has worked for Greenpeace in various capacities for over 20 years including as Executive Director of Greenpeace Germany and as the coordinator of the Greenpeace International disarmament campaign.
Right.

Bottom Line: Nestle's doing what it can to burnish/defend its reputation, but I'd like it to use its corporate muscle to reduce corruption affecting farmers in the countries where it does business. That would create REAL shared value!

* The WWC runs the World Water Forum. It was founded and is funded by corporations but allows others to join. Interesting little things I am learning here...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

Thank you for taking the time to post on today’s Creating Shared Value Forum.
Creating Shared Value seeks to create value for both its shareholders and the communities where it operates. Nestle cannot solve all of the world’s problems, but we are attempting to improve the quality of life for several groups with diverse interests. CSV is not merely a PR or reputational program designed to garner positive attention, but an intrinsic component of our values and way of doing business. The various programs of CSV benefit both our shareholders and society simultaneously.
In regards to your statement on water usage: Nestle does not simply throw money at NGO initiatives to “reduce water use.” We also reduce our company’s use of water, work with farmers to improve their use of water resources, and strengthen rural access to clean water and sanitation. Reducing our use of water and installing water treatment technology in our factories, while working with farmers to improve their usage, helps address the challenge of water scarcity. For example, since 1999, Nestle has used 58% less water per ton of product. Additionally, Nestle has installed water treatment plants in 68% of its factories, with 98% treating their water on-site or via offshore facilities.
Water usage and corruption that farmers face are issues that are important to us and their resolution provides benefit to all.
Thank you again for your thoughts and we look forward to engaging in more dialogue in the future.
Regards.
Cecile Duprez-Naudy, Nestlé