Global Leader, Sustainability, Advocacy and Communications, Dupont Water Solutions
Roughly 1 billion people across the world lack access to clean water, but we might already hold the key to unlocking water solutions for everyone.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought water inequality into sharp focus as 3 billion people lack basic handwashing facilities at home.
“The pandemic has shone a light on the dire need for sanitisation and good hygiene through handwashing and highlighted that those without access to safe clean water are even more vulnerable,” explains Kimberly Kupiecki, Global Leader of Sustainability, Advocacy and Communications for DuPont Water Solutions.
“Sanitisation and making sure our water systems are resilient have become even more critical.”
Access to water and ensuring its quality are the keys to achieving a “water-optimised” world, according to Kupiecki.
“We interact with water every day, but we are seeing a terrible under-optimisation, or mismanagement, of water in some places,” Kupiecki says.
This might include overtreating water to the quality of drinking water when it is only required for flushing toilets, or undertreating waste water, with 80% going untreated worldwide, according to the UN.1
“In a water-optimised world, we would be able to solve the key challenges of quality and accessibility,” Kupiecki says. “If you don’t have access, you can’t function as a society, while the water quality needs to be right for its use, particularly if it is used for human consumption or in healthcare.”
Sanitisation and making sure our water systems are resilient have become even more critical.
Investing in new innovations
DuPont Water Solutions works with partners to optimise water solutions and meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 of ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, through its portfolio of innovations.
These innovations include sustainable technologies which treat waste water, turn sea water into drinking water through reverse osmosis and ensure water quality for anything from irrigation to making computer chips.
Technology is vital to a smarter, more modern way of working with water, Kupiecki says.
“When we think about a water-optimised world you have to have automation and a digital water or smart water focus to make sure everything is working optimally.”
As well as water, the company provides innovations in the life sciences sphere, with projects ranging from separating protein products from milk to removing the bitterness from orange juice.
Think global, act local
A global outlook combined with local context is also important to addressing water issues, by providing international-standard training and technology to individual communities.
“There is no single solution which will solve our issues,” Kupiecki says. “There are as many solutions as there are communities. You need global science to address local problems.
“We aim to provide a toolkit, a broad portfolio of solutions, and people all over the world with the knowledge to apply it, to create a blueprint to figure it all out.”
DuPont’s international projects range from collecting and storing rainwater in Tanzania to providing a containerised, mobile system for water treatment in Egypt.
“Those projects make a huge difference to communities,” explains Kupiecki.
Increasingly sporadic rainfall also presents a problem to many communities across the world, from Africa to North America.
“Because of climate change, we are experiencing higher peaks and lower valleys,” Kupiecki says. “We need to make sure we catch that rainfall and manage it because we might need to go for longer in between.”
Fully sustainable solutions to the water crisis are therefore key to ensuring a brighter future for all communities.
Source of hope
Fortunately, with growing access to innovations, it seems we can afford to be positive about what our water future holds.
“We can and should be optimistic,” says Kupiecki. “Especially at a local level, low-cost innovations can really help make a huge change. You can see results and it is very inspiring. We can solve this. We feel optimistic that the solutions exist, we just need to get innovations out there.”