Ford's Industry-Leading Commitment to Water Security

Kim Pittel, Group Vice President, Sustainability, Environment & Safety Engineering, Ford Motor Company

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We believe that access to clean water is a basic human right. And yet, where almost three-quarters of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, only about one percent of that vital asset is both drinkable and readily accessible. Business has a key role to play in conserving that precious resource.


This June, Ford Motor Company became the world’s first automaker to commit to the Business Alliance for Water and Climate (BAFWAC) Improve Water Security initiative. BAFWAC is a partnership between the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate, Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), SUEZ and World Business Council for Sustainable Development that has created action steps for companies who wish to show “their commitment to being responsible water stewards.”


The initiative requires participants to analyze water-related risks and implement collaborative response strategies, plus measure and report water-use data through the CDP water questionnaire and annual sustainability reports. Companies also commit to reducing their impact on water in both their direct operations and value chain.


Setting the bar high, Ford has done all this and more. Our actions, which have been evaluated in the context of the wider global sustainability agenda, align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 6 Ensure Availability and Sustainable Management of Water and Sanitation for All. Ford is one of only two dozen companies out of 600 to be awarded an “A” grade by CDP for its water management efforts.


While this new BAFWAC achievement marks a significant milestone, Ford’s journey toward more responsible water stewardship started nearly two decades ago. We have made significant progress since. By 2015, we had already saved 10 billion gallons of water — equating to a 61 percent decrease in water use around the world.


Working toward a new set of stringent reduction targets as part of our Water Strategy, we are now aiming to achieve a further 30 percent cut in water use per vehicle by 2020, resulting in a total reduction in water usage of 72 percent compared to 2000. Our 18th Annual Sustainability Report, just published, highlights another strong year in water efficiency improvements, including a 4 percent reduction from 2015 to 2016.


Ultimately, our long-term goal is to use zero drinking water in any of our manufacturing. In this regard, I bring a somewhat unique perspective to this effort — what I call “a zero-defect” mindset. It stems from my time working in Ford’s Quality function, where I learned that if you don’t set zero as your target, you’ll never reach it.


For us, showing leadership around water stewardship represents a benchmark for running a responsible business, and one that treats its customers, employees, communities — and the planet — with respect.


To view our latest sustainability report, visit and to learn more about Ford’s sustainability journey, watch our short film below.

This article was originally published on Medium.

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