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Submitted by: United Nations Global Compact
Posted: May 07, 2008 – 10:00 AM EST
NEW YORK, 7 May 2008 - Business leaders representing some of the world's largest companies today launched an international campaign urging governments of the Group of Eight (G8) countries to address with urgency the emerging global crisis in water and sanitation.
In a letter released by the United Nations Global Compact Office, the chief executive officers of 19 corporations call on G8 leaders to actively address the issue of water during their upcoming Hokkaido Toyako Summit on 7-9 July in Japan. The business leaders are all endorsers of the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, which was launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in July 2007.
"[I]t is increasingly clear that lack of access to clean water and sanitation in many parts of the world causes great suffering in humanitarian, social, environmental and economic terms, and seriously undermines development goals," the letter states.
It is estimated that approximately one billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. The letter cites a recent United Nations Development Report, which argues that the costs to sub-Saharan African economies of not having basic universal access to water and sanitation represent about five percent of gross domestic product.
"Thus, water is not just an environmental issue - it is a poverty and development issue, an economic issue, and therefore a business issue," the chief executives state.
The letter notes that in 2000, world leaders committed to the Millennium Development Goals, including a concrete target to "[h]alve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation."
The letter calls on leaders of the G8 countries to take a number of actions, including: re-affirming the importance of achieving the Millennium Development Goal related to water in G8 Summit preparatory documents and in final communiqués; fulfilling their Gleneagles commitment on water and sanitation by ensuring that allocations for safe drinking water and sanitation increase as a percent of all official development assistance (ODA), and that ODA increases overall; and encouraging non-G8 nations to pay more attention to the Millennium Development Goal related to water.
The business leaders also urge the G8 leaders to work more actively with the international business community, through initiatives such as The CEO Water Mandate.
"We are pleased that business leaders have taken the initiative and are urging governments to take seriously this emerging crisis," said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. "This also represents an appeal for partnership, and in this way underscores the fact that today's global problems demand collective and coordinated action."
The signing chief executives represent the following companies: Diageo; Hayleys PLC; Hindustan Construction Company; Läckeby Water AB; Levi Strauss & Co.; Liqum Oy; Metito (Overseas) Limited; Nestlé S.A.; Netafim Ltd.; PepsiCo, Inc.; SABMiller plc; Siemens AG; Suez; SunOpta Inc.; The Coca-Cola Company; The Dow Chemical Company; Unilever; Westpac Banking Corporation; WPP.
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