Blog Action Day 2010: Could a floating brewery provide a business solution to water scarcity?

By Andy Wales, Head of Sustainable Development, SABMiller

Blog Action Day 2010: Could a floating brewery provide a business solution to water scarcity?

Without water there can be no beer. It might seem like an obvious statement, but the ability to get enough good quality water to make high quality beers over the coming decades is an issue that SABMiller is putting a lot of effort into.

This week we unveiled some research that our technical team has conducted to understand what brewing might look like in 2030, in different scenarios of water and energy availability.

The most challenging scenario, in which both water and energy are scarce, prompted the most innovative solution – a mobile brewery on a ship which travels from market to market based on resource availability and seasonal consumer demand.

Whilst the idea of a floating brewery might seem rather unorthodox, both the business case and the issues behind the research are serious and pressing.

Water is a resource which flows across our human boundaries, whether that is a national border, a city or state area or a company’s walls. Water scarcity is a shared risk, which is why we must all work together and take shared responsibility for resolving the water challenge.

That means all of us working together to manage our water supply better, as well as all of us becoming much more water efficient to make that limited supply go further in a world of more and more people.

A partnership approach is the only one that will work because protecting a watershed needs the involvement of all those who live and work within it.

That’s why we established the Water Futures partnership with WWF, and supported by the German development agency GTZ, to understand watershed risk and seek to introduce protection programmes initially in Peru, Ukraine, Tanzania and South Africa – all countries at risk of significant water stress.

The partnership has already taught us a lot – both WWF and GTZ have demonstrated their impressive on the ground expertise. I hope that together we will be able to attract other partners amongst businesses, governments and NGOs to join the partnership and help protect a resource that often seems cheap, but is vital to a profitable future for us all.

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