Water Week: Sweden's Efforts for Global Water Security

12285843-case-colorate-sulla-riva-del-mareIn 1991, Stockholm, the city on water, decided to hold a grand Water Festival. 

Water is Sweden’s frame of reference. Stockholm, built on an archipelago comprising 14 islands, gets its water from Lake Malaren, which empties into the Baltic Sea.


Stockholm is a fitting place to understand the importance of drinkable water and the devastation of pollution. From the times of its settlement until the late 19th century, pollution of Sweden’s lakes and waterways promoted waves of disease that would decimate the population. Stockholm addressed its public health problem by creating water-purifying plants, which improved its standard of living. But they can’t filter out industrial-level pollutants like cadmium, copper, mercury and lead. Businesses and government work together to decrease their levels. The lesson? Controlling pollution requires collaboration among all sectors of society.

World Water Week 

The first Festivals were intended to engage the public in a broad awareness of potential worldwide water shortages. There were food stalls, venders selling tourist goods, and amazing fireworks displays by competing countries. But the organizers had more in mind; they established the Stockholm Water Symposium, a week-long program with more than 100 workshops, seminars and events, “covering topics ranging from food production, health, climate adaptation … to ecosystem management, corporate water footprints, urban water supply and sanitation and pollution abatement.”

stockholm-kallbadhus-image-01The World Water Week has become one of only a handful of megaconferences on water that provide opportunities to develop and support networks and share information and practices that help in managing water resources on a global scale. The first symposium was held in 1991 with 250 participants. Twenty years later, the World Water Week in Stockholm has grown into the leading annual meeting for experts, decision-makers and practitioners on water, environment and development issues with more than 2,400 participants from 135 countries and nearly 200 collaborating organisations.

In order to bring industry to the table, the Stockholm Industry Water Award was established in 2000 by the Stockholm Water Foundation in collaboration with the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. The award honors businesses that contribute to sustainable water management. The purpose of the award is to recognize companies and business organisations that demonstrate devoted water stewardship through impressive achievements in their water usage. 


PepsiCO received the Stockholm Industry Water Award “for its work to reduce water consumption in their operations and to help solve water challenges on a broad scale.” PepsiCo was recognized for steps taken to conserve water across its business operations and agricultural supply chain including:

  • Improving global water use efficiency by more than 20% per unit of production achieving its water goal a full four years ahead of schedule.
  • Conserving nearly 16 billion liters of water in 2011, from a 2006 baseline, through the application of water-saving equipment and technologies, creative recycling and re-use, and by deploying a water management system throughout its manufacturing facilities.
  • Reducing water and energy related costs by more than $45 million in 2011, compared to 2006.
  • Innovating a variety of agricultural practices and technologies around the world that are designed to reduce water use in farming through new irrigation techniques, and tools that help farmers deliver fertilizer and water to their crops at the most efficient time.
  • Providing access to safe water for more than 1 million people with the PepsiCo Foundation and other partners.

Award Committee Member and Director of Water Projects at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Dr. Joppe Cramwinckel, said:

“PepsiCo has set and achieved a high standard for its own operations, and has demonstrated that responsible water use makes good business sense.”

At the award ceremony, Ms. Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo said,

“PepsiCo is honored to accept this award from the Stockholm Industry Water Award Jury. This prestigious award is validation of our water conservation efforts. Reducing our water usage drives cost reductions and reduces our overall environmental footprint, and so we’re innovating to make the most of every drop of water used. These water reduction efforts are part of our overall Performance with Purpose strategy, which includes our promise to provide a wide range of foods and beverages for local tastes; to find innovative ways to minimize our impact on the environment by conserving energy and water and reducing packaging volume; to provide a great workplace for associates; and to respect, support and invest in the local communities where the company operates.”

Besides the Stockholm Industry Water Price, the SIWI give the Stockholm Water Award (the original award), the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, the Swedish Baltic Sea Water Award and the WASH Media Awards.