Alpro is pioneering a One Planet Thinking pilot, which is founded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Netherlands and delivered in cooperation with the WWF network and other partners like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The goal was to go beyond business-as-usual water efficiency targets and test emergent thinking for setting science-based targets for water that respect planetary boundaries. The study piloted WWF’s latest thinking, that builds on the Planetary Boundaries Framework, to set sustainable freshwater balance targets for farms in Alpro’s almond supply chain. Establishing more meaningful water targets starts with a need to understand, and relate to, the freshwater context of basins where almonds are sourced.
Why does it matter ?
Like many companies, we are increasingly integrating water stewardship into our efforts. However, accounting for variable local context when setting water targets is complex; leaving the industry default focused on universal internal efficiency targets that ignore basin conditions. Some of Alpro’s almond sourcing regions are water stressed and are likely to continue to face growing water challenges in the future. For example, the sub-basin assessed in this pilot indicated precipitation for 2017 was ~35% lower than an average year, with the timing of this precipitation also shifting within the year. Understanding these contextual insights not only helps Danone ensure consistent future supply but allows farmers to adopting targets and practices that will enable local ecosystems, economies and people, to thrive and sustain.
How does it work ?
Together with an almond cooperative, the pilot began by harnessing the WWF Water Risk Filter to assess the water risks facing a selection of almond farms within Alpro’s supply chain, located in the Mediterranean area. The purpose was to prioritize and focus a more detailed freshwater balance assessment within a sub-basin. The pilot then sought to quantify the current surface freshwater balance, current uses and pathways to ensure sustainable use within this sub-basin. The insights of this work enabled recommendations to be proposed for alternative basin-scale boundaries, compared to what is currently in the Planetary Boundaries Framework. These limits could better account for both surface blue water (water from surface or groundwater resources) and green water (rainwater stored in soil and metabolized by plants) consumption in ways that could better account for the freshwater needs of nature.
How does it create value ?
This project was rooted in innovation and the idea of developing next-generation thinking that ensures business actions truly drive broader environmental outcomes. Piloting WWF’s current thinking with Alpro’s data seeks to contribute towards the development of science-based targets, that is now part of the Earth Targets Platform. Furthermore, the pilot created actionable recommendations for Alpro which could help preserve business value - including identifying the months of the year where overall water demand may exceed renewable supply. This presents an opportunity to tailor and efficiently deploy water efficiency programs during these months. Additionally, the assessment suggested that nut farming represents the largest agricultural water user within the sub-basin, an insight that enables future collective action to free up water resources.
Photo credit: © Bas Bogaerts