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Even though water stress and the impacts of climate change are some of today’s most pressing issues for individuals and organisations alike, many businesses fail to prioritise water management solutions due to the low cost of water and lack of understanding of its connection to advancing net zero carbon and climate goals.

Demand for water in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) is growing fast: without radical action, the demand/supply gap will become a significant barrier to progress. Within Mena, water scarcity has reached an unprecedented scale. The region is reported to be the most water scarce in the world, containing 11 of the 17 most water-stressed countries across the globe. Home to around 6 per cent of the world’s population, but only 1 per cent of world’s freshwater resources, diminishing access to clean water is one of the most serious risks facing Mena today and businesses are under increasing pressure to rethink their water needs.

As the region’s industries look to solutions, they are turning to Ecolab - the global leader in water, hygiene and infection prevention solutions and services that help protect people, planet and business health.

Emilio Tenuta, SVP and Chief Sustainability Officer at Ecolab, says the company is delivering on its promise to advance sustainability goals.

“We've set ambitious internal goals around net positive water, net zero carbon and climate diversity, and we show customers that there does not have to be tradeoffs between achieving business goals and sustainability,” explains Tenuta. “We refer to that as the exponential return on investment that enables us to deliver meaningful business outcomes, operational efficiency, and environmental impact at the highest return.”

Ecolab’s experience shows that data-driven visibility, combined with innovative programmes and consultative expertise, can empower companies to identify inefficiencies in managing water and energy use and make needed improvements within their operations. Companies need the right data to take the right action.

Vishal Sharma, Ecolab SVP and Market Head for India, Middle East and Africa, explains how Ecolab’s state-of-the-art Global Intelligence Center monitors customer operations and the performance of Ecolab’s solutions.

“With more than 500 connected systems in Mena, more than 1.1 billion data points are collected and analysed every year through our Ecolab Intelligence Center in Dammam, Saudi Arabia,” Sharma says. “By analysing billions of data points, we can predict operational issues well before they occur and inform the customer. Think how powerful that is.”

Jason Morrison, secretariat of the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate and the Water Resilience Coalition (WRC) says that Ecolab, one of seven co-founding members of the WRC, which launched on World Water Day 2020, is playing a key role in the future of water security.

“The WRC is currently a membership of almost 30 companies with $3.5 trillion in market capitalisation that are collaborating in geographies of shared interest to address water stress and to build more water resilient systems in the face of climate change,” he says.

Smart water management is essential to protect the environment and human health in our communities. Global water use, storage and distribution—including the lack of wastewater treatment—contributes to 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Industry cannot tackle climate change and meet sustainability commitments without addressing water. Proactive smart water management helps companies build resilience to increasing water stress while reducing energy use. Improving the way that water is managed will help companies advance their sustainability commitments.

Tenuta says that Ecolab’s technologies enable businesses to manage water smarter:

“The Ecolab Smart Water Navigator is a free, publicly available tool that addresses the challenges and risk factors at the local level. Once we know where those risk factors are, we are able to leverage smart technologies such as Water Flow Intelligence to optimise water use,” he says. “In addition, ECOLAB3D, a secure cloud-based platform, brings together different solutions into one dashboard to provide broad visibility on business and sustainability performance.”

By combining smart technologies with leading water expertise, Sharma says the company is achieving incredible results:

“Last year, Ecolab helped customers save 1.9 billion litres of water across Mena, enough for the annual drinking water needs of 1.7 million people. Globally we also helped customers save 45 trillion BTUs of energy — enough energy to power Dubai for two months. This shows how reducing water use also reduces energy use and greenhouse gas emissions,” he explains.

For Tenuta, the future is one of collaboration. “We're proud of our long history at Ecolab, and we're excited about our future and our ability to help solve the world’s water and climate challenges,” Sharma adds. “We are uniquely positioned to help companies make progress on their ambitious water, energy and climate goals, and for industry, failing to address the impacts of climate change is no longer an option.