400,000 to petition Nestle
An online petition will shortly reach Nestlé, with 400,000 supporters urging the company to “stop draining Pakistan dry!”
The plea pulls no punches – “destroying countries’ natural resources … forcing people to buy their own water back … rendering entire areas uninhabitable … the poor watch wells run dry and watch their children fall ill.” And that’s just the first two paragraphs.
The concern, of course, is legitimate. Nestlé has also put itself in the firing line by bottling water and by leading the debate about placing a sensible value on water to stop so much being wasted.
But Nestlé is completely the wrong target. Indeed, Nestlé may be the best advocate and partner for Pakistani villagers.
• First of all, bottled water uses very little water and all of it is drunk. Most of it is local, less is wasted than for any other beverage and it is safe.
• Second, in many countries, more people would fall ill if there were no bottled water.
• Third, bottled water companies and especially Nestlé are the best guardians of natural water sources, often conserving more water than they use.
• Fourth, it is years of neglect or inability by governments to provide adequate public water supplies that is the problem in many countries.
A petition that a Swiss company should ensure that Pakistani “villages have access to safe drinking water” is sadly misdirected.