Ecolab’s Global Study on Water Stewardship Reveals Consumer Concerns

slices of lemon floating in water.


by | Sep 20, 2023

Ecolab, a prominent global sustainability leader specializing in water solutions and services, has unveiled the findings from its Ecolab Watermark Study, showing the need for governments and industry leaders to find ways to combat water scarcity and pollution.This comprehensive study, conducted in partnership with Morning Consult, delves into the state of water stewardship, highlighting its significance, usage, connection to climate change, and the responsibility it places on key consumer populations worldwide.

A Looming Crisis: The Global Water Deficit

As the world races towards 2030, alarming statistics from the World Resources Institute and the United Nations indicate that the planet is poised to confront a 56% water deficit, leaving 1.6 billion people without access to safely managed drinking water.

To address this impending water crisis, Ecolab initiated the Ecolab Watermark Study, aiming to identify crucial trends, educate the public, and stimulate action among industry stakeholders. The study encompassed regions such as Asia Pacific, China, Europe, India-Middle East-Africa (IMEA), Latin America, and the United States.

Concerns of Consumers Across the Globe

The Ecolab Watermark Study uncovered several critical trends concerning water stewardship:

  1. Access to Clean and Safe Water: A Paramount Concern

The study revealed that access to clean and safe water is a paramount concern for consumers in every region. In Latin America, an astounding 92% of respondents cited it as their top concern, followed by China (85%) and the U.S. (81%). This concern eclipsed other climate-related issues like pollution and climate change.

  1. Responsibility Lies with Governments and Businesses

Consumers overwhelmingly held governments and businesses responsible for water conservation. However, they were skeptical about these leaders’ commitment to addressing water and climate issues. This skepticism was most pronounced in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and Asia Pacific, with 42% to 46% of people believing their leaders cared.

  1. Industry’s Lack of Clear Plan

Despite the perceived responsibility and importance, consumers felt that the industry lacked a clear plan to address water scarcity. This concern was particularly evident in China (82%), Latin America (78%), and IMEA (78%). Europe (66%), the U.S. (65%), and Asia Pacific (60%) also expressed similar concerns.

Galvanizing Industry Leaders to Act

Ecolab’s Chairman and CEO, Christophe Beck, emphasized the urgency of the water crisis’s global impact. He called on leaders to assume a larger role in protecting this finite resource, noting that time is running out and consumers worldwide are demanding immediate action. Beck highlighted the positive sustainability and business outcomes that can be achieved by meeting this responsibility.

Consumer-Driven Change

In response to the perceived lack of accountability, consumers are taking matters into their own hands. The study revealed that consumers are willing to change their buying behaviors to support environmental sustainability. They are ready to stop purchasing products that require a significant amount of water to produce and are willing to pay more for goods made using sustainable business practices. This sentiment is particularly strong in IMEA (88%), China (85%), and Latin America (81%).

A Glimmer of Hope: Consumer Optimism

Despite the challenges, consumers remain optimistic about mitigating the water crisis through prompt action. On average, three out of four consumers across the globe believe that water scarcity can be effectively addressed. The highest levels of optimism were observed in Latin America (84%), IMEA (83%), and China (78%).

Industry’s Seat at the Table

Emilio Tenuta, Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at Ecolab, stressed the importance of industry participation in advocating and developing climate and water solutions. He highlighted the Ecolab Watermark Study’s unique insights, which pinpoint where stakeholders, including governments, businesses, NGOs, and individuals, can collaborate to address global challenges successfully.

Regional Insights: United States

The Ecolab Watermark Study also provided specific data for 15 individual countries.

In the United States, 81% of consumers expressed concerns about access to clean and safe water, with businesses and governments bearing the highest responsibility for water conservation funding. However, 65% of U.S. consumers believe that businesses and manufacturers lack clear guidance and plans to combat water scarcity. Despite less than half of U.S. consumers believing that business and government leaders care about climate change or water conservation, 70% remain optimistic that water scarcity can be effectively addressed.

Ecolab is committed to annually updating and releasing new editions of the Ecolab Watermark Study, offering a valuable resource for understanding the evolving landscape of water stewardship.  In a world facing an impending water crisis, Ecolab’s study sheds light on the critical role that water stewardship plays and calls upon industry leaders, governments, and consumers to unite in preserving this vital resource for future generations.

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