World Water Week has been taking place in Sweden for 30 years, bringing public and private organisations together to tackle global water challenges. This year the week of discussions has taken place online, as the spirit of international cooperation and collaboration continues.
Water is one of the world’s most precious resources, and is inextricably linked to combating climate change. According to the UN, 2.2 billion people worldwide lack safe drinking water and the responsible use of water will help reduce floods, droughts, scarcity and pollution.
As a leading manufacturer of packaging and paper, water is vital to our global operations and responsible water stewardship is central to how we do business. Since 2014 we have promoted a landscape approach to water stewardship, working together with farmers, local government, and industries, who all share a common interest in maintaining freshwater ecosystems and services.
At Mondi we are continuously working to protect the natural resources that we depend on for the health of our business and the planet. We often operate in areas where freshwater ecosystems meet forests. While we are proud of our long-standing commitment to reduce water usage and increase water recycling, we are not complacent. Over the last year we have been working with WWF to develop a new group-wide approach to standardise how stewardship is implemented across our mills and ensure that the level of implementation is contextually appropriate to the surrounding water challenges and the risks each mill faces.
Using water for production processes not only has the potential to impact the environment but also our local communities where we operate, which is why we have invested €75 million modernising all of our wastewater treatment plants across our network since 2013. At our mills in Syktyvkar, Russia, and Ružomberok, Slovakia, we closely monitor the volume and pollutant levels of discharged waste water to minimise environmental impact. We have seen the positive results on the biodiversity of local waterways. In Syktyvkar we are also able to treat the waste water from the surrounding community including other industrial operations.
Over a decade ago, in South Africa, we reduced the size of our working forests, close to the iSimangaliso wetlands, by approximately 5% without commercial impact, helping to improve the vital freshwater ecosystem in the area, benefiting the local communities and more widely helping to protect a crucial carbon sink.
Mondi’s efforts on water stewardship offer a leading example for the pulp and paper sector to follow towards achieving SDG 6 (Clean Water & Sanitation).
Water stewardship is only one part of the wider work we do to minimise our footprint on the natural environment and tackle the climate crisis. We are managing our impacts by transitioning to low carbon technologies in line with science-based targets, reducing the carbon footprint of our products and developing best practices in forest productivity while maintaining zero deforestation in our wood supply.
All of these commitments are measured, traced and published in our annual Sustainable Development report, helping us to drive action against the UN’s Sustainable Development goals and our ambiton of contributing to a better world. We will continue to collaborate with our stakeholders, customers and suppliers to drive change as its only by working together that the world’s water resources can be managed properly and the benefits be felt by all.