In this discussion, PepsiCo Vice President of Global Sustainability Roberta Barbieri and Karin Krchnak of 2030 WRG discuss the importance of partnership and community-led system thinking in solving the water challenges facing our planet.
Roberta Barbieri, Vice President, Global Sustainability, PepsiCo:
Thanks for agreeing to chat with us, Karin. To get started, could you share a bit about 2030 WRG for those who might not be familiar with the organization?
Karin Krchnak, Program Manager, 2030 WRG:
Sure, Roberta. Happy to do so. 2030 WRG was created to help countries achieve water security by bringing together governments, the private sector, and civil society in a safe space to tackle the water challenges in their countries. We bring together stakeholders through what we call 2030 WRG Multi-Stakeholder Platforms to design collective solutions, either through large-scale projects or policy reform processes, taking us all a step closer toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
So, here’s a question for you, PepsiCo was an early supporter of 2030 WRG, and nearly a decade later, remains actively involved. Why is the company so committed to our work?
As you mentioned, PepsiCo has been working with 2030 WRG since 2011. We first got involved because we saw the multi-stakeholder approach that 2030 WRG was founded on as our best opportunity to truly transform the world’s most at-risk watersheds. Nearly a decade later, our work together is certainly paying off. 2030 WRG is the global leader at delivering tangible solutions to systemic water challenges. It’s unique in that rather than committing to solve a single problem, it brings everyone in the community together to diagnose the root cause of the watershed’s challenges and then design a comprehensive approach to address multiple problems at the same time. It’s classic systems thinking in action, and it’s super important.
What about you, can you share a bit about the role companies like PepsiCo play in 2030 WRG’s work?
Water security is a complex, systemic challenge. This kind of challenge cannot be addressed in a top-down, pre-planned, linear fashion, and single point solutions don’t work on their own. Water challenges cannot be solved unilaterally. Stakeholders must change the way they operate and develop trust to work together. Over time, they must develop new technologies, products, services, business models, public service delivery models, policy and regulatory innovations, financial approaches, industry standards, cultural norms and behaviors that together deliver new results.
Business leaders are enabling their companies to participate at the global and local levels with 2030 WRG multi-stakeholder platforms despite competitive instincts. At the institutional level, businesses, government ministries, donors, and civil society organizations are exploring new ways of operating through projects that respond to system-wide, shared priorities in addition to their own individual goals.
PepsiCo has used its voice and network to highlight the need for long-term, strategic collaboration among business, government, and civil society to achieve water security. You have challenged traditional approaches and operating models within your organization to make 2030 WRG possible. You have provided vital expertise and strategic guidance to the 2030 WRG secretariat, and mobilized country colleagues where relevant.
And PepsiCo, how do you benefit from supporting our work?
As a global food and beverage company, we depend on water. It’s one of our most important resources. That also means we have an up-close view of just how stressed the world’s water resources already are. A sustainable food system depends on companies like ours supporting efforts that help society become better caretakers of our watersheds.
2030 WRG is simply one of the most effective vehicles I’ve seen for achieving long-term water security at the watershed level. By working closely with governments and local stakeholders to fix poor policies and practices, and support innovation in both technology and governance that makes community water use more efficient, 2030 WRG is helping to ensure the long-term continuity of our business operations. Put simply, more water in watersheds makes our business and our communities more sustainable, and 2030 WRG knows how to pull the right levers to achieve truly sustainable water management at scale.
Let’s close with what’s ahead for you all, Karin. Can you share a bit about 2030 WRG’s plans?
We want to make significant contributions to delivering the SDGs on water in the countries where we work, but also to other SDGs that depend on water. Much of the work that 2030 WRG and our partners are planning or already implementing is also very relevant for the challenges related to adaptation to the effects of climate change.
2030 WRG is driving for solutions in transforming value chains, promoting circular economy approaches, and building resilience. Moreover, using our Multi-Stakeholder Platforms as safe spaces, we see enormous potential for disruptive technologies in water—a suite of hardware and IT-enabled interfaces to promote productivity gains, reduce water footprints, optimize costs, and assign an economic value to water resources for implementation in the agriculture, industrial and urban water systems.
Today, we are working in 14 country programs around the world. Our goal is the mainstreaming of the ‘2030 WRG approach’ of multi-stakeholder processes in countries and states around the globe to achieve larger impact in the area of water resources management and overall better governance. This includes cities, particularly those facing Day Zero scenarios. We aim to accelerate joint action and decision-making by stakeholders, driving for more sustainable solutions to the challenges facing us.
The good news is that our private sector partners, including PepsiCo, are extremely committed and actively engaged with us on water security issues around the world. We also have a functioning and proven model to drive public, private, and civil society collaboration on water. More support and partners are needed to enable a trusting and constructive dialogue amongst the sectors, to collaborate for more effective governance, and build needed institutional capabilities that support deployment of scalable investments.