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Connect the Drops on water conservation

Water is essential to human life … and to running our business. In fact, our sustainability work centers on protecting and conserving the natural resource base on which our business depends. Water is at the top of the “most critical natural resources to our business list.”
by Ellen SilvaGeneral Mills Posted on Mar 06, 2015

Water is essential to human life … and to running our business.

In fact, our sustainability work centers on protecting and conserving the natural resource base on which our business depends. Water is at the top of the “most critical natural resources to our business list.”

We simply could not deliver any of the products in our portfolio without a healthy water supply around the globe.

Water conservation is an important issue to many companies, industries and U.S. citizens right now, but none more than those who live or do business in California.

Now entering the fourth year of a devastating statewide drought, the need for water conservation and stewardship in California has never been more critical.

As the nation’s biggest agriculture state – from which we source a tremendous amount of ingredients that make up our products and which is home to several of our production facilities – California and the devastating drought that has struck the state is top of mind for us at General Mills.

So, when Ceres, a nonprofit sustainability advocacy organization, came to us with a collective effort to bring focus and collaboration to the issue, we immediately signed on.

The Connect the Drops campaign centers on a public declaration, which states:

“We cannot risk our state’s economic future by relying on outdated water management practices, policies and infrastructure. Now is the time for fresh thinking, shared purpose and bold solutions to build a resilient water future for all Californians. And it is incumbent on us—the business community—to help lead the way.”

Ceres called on signatories from a broad range of industries that have a crucial stake in the health of California’s water supply to participate in the coalition, including General Mills, Driscoll’s, KB Homes, Coca-Cola and more.

Kirsten James, senior manager of California Policy at Ceres stated during a press conference on Thursday, “Connect the Drops will bring the much needed business voice to the table on water policy in Sacramento for the first time.”

Ceres will be working with policy makers to advance positive actions to secure California’s water future.

California and the General Mills Supply Chain

California and its water supply play an important role in our supply chain. From dates in southern California to tomatoes and almonds in the central valley to berries along the central coast, and dairy statewide, we rely on thousands of California farmers to provide us with high-quality ingredients for our products.

Approximately 99 percent of the water consumed to create and distribute our products occurs outside our direct operations – primarily in agriculture. We believe that improving the health and conservation of water in California and around the world requires significant collaboration.

Over the past five years, we have been working to implement a global water stewardship strategy across our value chain to improve the health of watersheds accessed by our operations and key growing regions.

With the help of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in 2012, we established a global water risk assessment of all of our plants and growing regions.

The result of this work was a targeted list of our most material and at-risk watersheds where we can have significant impact, focusing on those with challenges in the areas of water quantity and non-point source pollution from agriculture. California in particular rose to the top in the TNC assessment as a critical watershed within our supply chain.

Today, we are taking action to develop or participate in watershed health strategies for these highest risk watersheds, including two in the state of California. In order to be successful, this work has to include a broad mix of private and public entities in each watershed.

Ultimately, we recognize that in order for our business to thrive, California farmers and ecosystems must also thrive. General Mills is committed to California as a key growing region for decades to come.

Signing on to the Connect the Drops Campaign supports the water needs of growers and all Californians and the natural resources upon which we all depend.

Editor’s note: In 2014, General Mills announced a global water policy, which provides a framework that guides us as we engage with stakeholders to improve the health of watersheds, particularly those in regions where we operate. To learn more about General Mills’ water stewardship efforts, read the company’s water policy.

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