HSBC bankrolls $100m water plan
Douglas Flint, HSBC group chairman, recently announced the launch of HSBC Water Programme, a new $100 million, five-year partnership with WWF, WaterAid and Earthwatch effort.
It is intended to tackle water risks in river basins, bring safe water and improved sanitation to over a million people; and raise awareness about the global water challenge, said a statement yesterday.
The programme came in the wake of a new report from Frontier Economics for HSBC. It revealed that by 2050, without any improvement in water resource management, seven of the world's top ten river basins will face unsustainable water consumption leading to scarcity.
It implies that at least 30 percent of the natural water run-off is being consumed. This could mean the GDP growth expected in the river basins would not materialise. Also, ecosystems home to quarter of the world population would face permanent damage affecting sustainability of communities and businesses.
HSBC group chair Flint commented, "Research findings show that the future of river basins is critical for global economic growth."
"The report also highlights the powerful economic rationale for improving access to freshwater and sanitation, at a time when total aid for water access and sanitation has actually declined. The HSBC Water Programme will benefit communities in need, and enable economies to prosper," he added.
The programme will tackle water supply and sanitation. In 2010 nearly 800 million people were without access to safe water, and 2.5 billion without access to basic sanitation. HSBC will share findings and insight to contribute to global understanding and best practice among NGOs, policymakers and businesses, as well as engaging its own employees.
Barbara Frost, chief executive of WaterAid commented, "The HSBC Water Programme will transform lives through its support of WaterAid's work. This exciting 5 year partnership will result in 1.1 million people gaining access to safe water and 1.9 million to improved hygiene and sanitation in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana."
WWF Chief Executive David Nussbaum said that recent figures from WWF show that freshwater ecosystems have declined by 70 percent since 1970 and 2.7 billion people are living in river basins that experience water shortages at least one month a year.
"These figures, alongside the research commissioned by HSBC, demonstrate why it is so important for us to take action to protect our freshwater resources now," he added.
Eve Carpenter, chief operating officer of Earthwatch said, "The programme will enable Earthwatch to set up research projects across the world, working with local conservation partners to address urban water management issues."
The Daily Star/Bangladesh/ 20th June 2012