The Courtauld Commitment 2025 Water Ambition

The Water Ambition aims to achieve the following by 2025:
1. Business signatories are monitoring water use in their own operations and have improved efficiency.
2. Business signatories are participating in collective action to improve the quality and availability of water in key sourcing areas.


At its core, the Courtauld 2025 Water Ambition includes a programme of collective action projects that aim to improve the quality and availability of water in key sourcing areas for the UK’s food & drink.  Water supplies are at risk in many production regions, and water users need to work together to safeguard this shared resource.

Initially, we are focusing on a number of key locations where we can collectively make the most difference.

Collective action projects are now underway in critical catchments across the UK, South Africa and Kenya.Read our report Working Together to Protect Critical Water Resources to find out more.

The issues

According to UN projections, global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030, due to a combination of climate change, human action and population growth. This has significant implications for UK food & drink businesses:

In many of the world’s food and drink growing regions, a stable supply of good-quality water can no longer be relied upon. Severe droughts have caused billions of dollars of damage in Southern Europe and California.  Research from the World Bank suggests that, since 2001, rainfall shocks have caused a loss of food production sufficient to feed about 81 million people every day for an entire year.

This doesn’t just affect overseas sourcing. In 2017, WWF found that 14% of UK rivers were over-abstracted. Restrictions in water supply can be growth-limiting.  The World Bank predicts a growth rate decline of 6% of GDP by 2050 in some regions, as competition for water intensifies.

Investors and customers increasingly expect companies to respond and adapt to changes in water supply in order to improve food security. In 2017 CDP’s Global Water Report indicated a significant increase in businesses leading the way on water stewardship. But there is more work to be done in order to build a secure and resilient water supply for the UK’s food and drink. In 2017, companies reported a total of 3,770 water risks via CDP – risks that threaten their license to operate, the security of their supply chains and their ability to grow.

What actions can business take? 

Reducing your exposure to water risks.

WWF have defined a framework to guide businesses towards being a water steward and reducing exposure to water risks.


Checklist for businesses 
To help businesses take the right steps, we have produced a checklist which outlines the actions to take, as well as links to further sources of guidance and support tools.  
Download the checklist here.

Strategic partners

The Water Ambition is a practical response to the growing problem of water stress. With WWF, the Rivers Trust, Business in the Community and other leading water experts we’ve created a collaborative programme that works on a localised level, dealing directly at source with issues specific within each catchment area.