A leading beverage company, Guinness Nigeria Plc, has reiterated the need for companies, individuals and government to work assiduously in enabling more communities to have access to clean and safe water across Nigeria. This was the crux of the message delivered by the Managing Director of the brewer, Peter Ndegwa, at a symposium organized to mark this year’s World Water Day.
According to Ndegwa, “At Guinness Nigeria, we recognise the pivotal role water plays in our communities, both as a domestic resource and also a crucial enabler of the global economy, in particular for food production and security, health, energy, industry, and the functioning of ecosystems. As such, our commitment to providing safe water to Nigerian communities remains unshaken. Water stewardship is a very important part of our operations; guided by our water blueprint, we strive to conserve water so that this resource is available for use today and for unborn generations.”
Delivering his keynote speech at the event, renowned Economist and Professor of Political Economy, Prof. Pat Utomi, emphasised the centrality of water to human existence, while calling on all stakeholders to demonstrate creativity around the use of water.
Utomi stated: “The water value chain provides opportunities for socio-economic development of our country. If properly harnessed, it can create lots of jobs and can add real economic value to the country, giving impetus to the diversification of Nigeria’s economy.”
Delivering her welcome address, the Dean of Lagos Business School, Dr. Enase Okonedo, said the school has consistently pushed the sustainability agenda across industries with a strong focus on business ethics as part of its curriculum.
Okonedo added: “LBS has always provided a platform for Nigeria’s development over the years. Therefore, we are pleased to partner Guinness Nigeria to enhance and deepen the conversation around sustainability in Nigeria. Clearly, there is need to give serious attention to water issues, considering its crucial role in preserving our lives.”
The symposium themed, ‘Water as a Driver of Sustainable Growth’, attracted dignitaries from both the public and private sectors including: Afolabi Imoukhuede, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation & Youth Employment; Iyadunni Olubode, Executive Director, LEAP Africa; Tim Connell, Country Director, Concern Universal Nigeria; Bunmi Otegbade, Managing Director Generation Enterprise; Dr. Grace Olukoi, an environment expert at Lead City University; Oluyomi Banjo, an environment expert at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), amongst others.
Guinness Nigeria has been in the vanguard of programmes that promote the efficient use of water in Nigeria. Building on the tradition of Diageo – parent company of Guinness Nigeria – the company has adopted an integrated strategy – the Diageo Water Blueprint – which sets out water management targets that underpin its commitment to water stewardship.
Leveraging on its flagship, ‘Water of Life’ scheme, which has provided clean water to over 36 communities in the country, Guinness Nigeria has helped more Nigerians have access to clean drinking water through partnerships with reputable development partners like Water Aid, OXFAM, Concern Universal and Water Health International.
The International World Water Day is held annually on the 22nd of March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The day was set aside at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the first World Water Day was marked on the 22nd of March, 1993.