Through its charitable arm the PepsiCo Foundation, the company will donate $6m (€4m) over three years to the Columbia University-based Earth Institute's work on water development in India, Brazil, China and Africa. In addition, $2.5m (€1.7m) will be spent in the next twelve months on helping fund the charity H20 Africa, which was founded by actor Matt Damon to establish clean water projects in Niger, Mali, Senegal and other countries on the continent. The two schemes both aim to ensure that everyone living within the target countries have access to a safe and long-term water supply. The announcement of the grants comes as food and drink companies attempt to position themselves ahead of the competition amidst increasing consumer scrutiny over how ethically they run their operations. To this end, PepsiCo chairperson Indra Nooyi said that the investment would not only benefit one of the key aims the United Nations' millennium development goals (MDG), but also the company's operations in the long term as well. The MDG project, which is supported by 192 nations, was formed in 2000 to outline key improvements to cut down on global poverty, through eight key aims. "We believe that the world water crisis is one of the most pressing challenges of our age," stated Nooyi. "As a global food and beverage company, our success depends on being responsible stewards of this limited resource." Earth institute director Jeffrey Sachs said that the increased funding for ensuring secure water supplies for all communities was vitally important for global development both economically and in terms of human well being. "With water, there can be productive agriculture, good nutrition, sanitation, and health," he stated. "Without water, there is only poverty and disease. Yet water is under unprecedented stress, from inadequate farm practices, climate change, population pressures, and pollution." PepsiCo spokesperson Jim Paymar said that although the initiatives resulting from the project were independent of its own operations, the scheme reflected the company's own sustainability drive for resource usage. "Consistent with the MDG target of 2015, we have established the first-ever enterprise-wide conservation goals for our natural resources," he said. These goals include a twenty per cent reduction in the group's water use per unit, with additional cuts for electricity and fuel consumption by 20 per cent and 25 per cent respectively over the same period. Paymar added that encouraging sustainability both within and beyond the walls of PepsiCo's plants was a common sense approach to development. "In India, our facilities have saved over two-billion litres of water in the past two years," he stated. "At the same time, we've helped community farmers save 40 percent of their agricultural water by directly seeding rice paddies, rather than growing the rice through water-intensive conventional seeding." Improvements such as these lead to increased crop yields and farmer incomes with these results affecting all aspects of Pepsi's business, Paymar claimed. In allocating causes and allocations for the PepsiCo foundation to fund, he added that there were certain criteria to be met.
Taking the example of the group's latest sustainable water drive, geographic locations with the most abject scarcity were selected, while areas with existing infrastructure to aid the group's efforts were also deemed important, Paymar said.