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Hayleys in global corporate campaign

Sri Lanka’s Hayleys Group is one of 19 global corporate entities that have collectively called upon leaders of the ‘Group of Eight’ (G8) meeting in Hokkaido this week to make the emerging water crisis a global priority.

In an unprecedented statement urging heads of state and government to take action on the crisis in water and sanitation, the CEOs of some of the world’s largest companies have pointed out that approximately one third of the world’s people without access to water live on less than $1 a day, making water not just an environmental issue, but also a poverty and development issue, an economic issue and a business issue.

The 19 companies are all signatories of The CEO Water Mandate, a special initiative of the United Nations Global Compact launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in July 2007.

The only Sri Lankan entity in the group, Hayleys was among the first 10 signatories of the CEO Water Mandate and has been appointed to its Steering Committee.

The other Year One signatories of the CEO Water Mandate were the Coca-Cola Company, Levi Strauss & Co., Nestl‚ S.A., SABMiller, SUEZ Environment, Hindustan Construction Company Limited, SunOpta Inc., Diageo plc, Westpac Banking Corporation and PepsiCo Inc. In their letter to the leaders of the G8, these corporate giants urge these countries to actively address the issue of water during their Summit on 7-9 July in Japan.

The G8 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“It is increasingly clear that lack of access to clean water and sanitation in many parts of the world causes great suffering in humanitarian, social, environmental and economic terms, and seriously undermines development goals,” the letter states.

It is estimated that approximately 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation.

The letter cites a recent United Nations Development Report, which argues that the costs to sub-Saharan African economies of not having basic universal access to water and sanitation represent about 5 per cent of gross domestic product.

The letter notes that in 2000, world leaders committed to the Millennium Development Goals, including a concrete target to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.”

The business leaders also urge the G8 leaders to work more actively with the international business community, through initiatives such as The CEO Water Mandate.

“Hayleys has made water sustainability and stewardship a corporate priority” said N. G. Wickremeratne, the Group’s Chairman and CEO. “As an endorser of The CEO Water Mandate, we pledged to provide our inputs and perspectives to public-policy makers on the issue of water.

This letter is an expression of this commitment, and I am pleased to join other business leaders in urging key governments to take action.”

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