Ecolab released a new study this week showing how prevalent concerns about clean drinking water are around the world, especially in Latin America.
In the U.S., 53% of survey respondents said they are worried about having clean water. That figure was 62% in Brazil and 70% in Mexico, according to the Ecolab Watermark Study done in partnership with customer researcher Morning Consult.
"Time is running out to address this challenge, and consumers across the world are saying that businesses must act now," said Christophe Beck, chief executive of Ecolab, in a news release. "The good news for industry is that meeting this responsibility can deliver positive sustainability and business outcomes."
St. Paul-based Ecolab, a global provider of clean water and hygiene products, released the results the week of the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit. It is the first time the company commissioned this type of study.
Beck was at the summit. So was Emilio Tenuta, Ecolab's senior vice president of sustainability, who has attended climate week events in person or online since 2018.
"The good news is that this is the first climate week I can remember where water had a more prominent role," Tenuta said in an interview.
Among the key takeaways of the Watermark survey are that consumers across all regions believe the availability of clean, safe water is paramount; that governments and industry both play a key role in water stewardship; and that consumers have heard from governments and industry that they have plans to address sustainability issues but they want to start seeing actions and results.
The study also showed people are willing to adjust their purchasing and consumption behaviors to favor more sustainably produced items.
"This study does a great job of sharing the link between water and climate, but also the relevance that water and the water crisis have in terms of the social implications," Tenuta said.
Ecolab has set aggressive sustainability goals and generally scores well on indexes that measure company's progress.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres at the summit admonished world leaders for the lack of progress in achieving sustainability goals for 2030.
To urge more companies to achieve those goals, the UN announced a Forward Faster initiative that includes renewed focus on five factors, including water resilience.
Ecolab is co-chair of the Water Resilience Coalition, a CEO-led initiative of 35 companies. The coalition is looking to increase its membership and aims to recruit 150 companies by 2030.
Morning Consult reached 2,000 people between Feb. 15 and March 3 in each of the 11 larger countries and 1,000 people in each in the four smaller countries studied. Authors of the study say it has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 to 3 percentage points.