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MEDIA blogs from previous years

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22 July 2019

Unlocking innovation in water

Unlocking innovation in water

A blog by AB Sugar’s Head of Advocacy, Katharine Teague

To support the effort to tackle climate change we are going to have to disrupt the way we innovate for maximum impact.  Our commitment is to reduce our co2 and water footprint by 30% and we will achieve this by accelerating the adoption of technology, working with new partnerships and creating a resilient supply chain. There is no one size fits all approach to the challenges of responsible resources use.  

Switching up the viewpoint

Bringing the outside-in is something we at AB Sugar are very open about and we continue to be inspired by those around us, particularly looking at how other industries go about things differently. One example of this is introducing solar pulp drying into our Spanish operations having seen it in action within the Spanish orange industry. Moreover, we recognised the need to do this more and so since launching our 2030 sustainability commitments last April, we’ve advanced the rate at which we encourage outside thinking from all people within our operations. We know we can’t achieve our commitments on our own and that we need to work with like-minded organisations to enact change in our local communities and operating markets now and not a few years down the line

69% of water abstractions are for agriculture[1], and using this precious resource efficiently is why we  created, launched and hosted The Innovate Irrigation Challenge. A pilot initiative together with WaterAid and the Institute of Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge, whereby we issued a global call for ideas to help reduce water losses through irrigation in agriculture.

The Challenge was driven from the place that we know there are water losses across the agricultural supply chain. We know we are a part of that but also others are too. It was about focusing on where and how we can drive further changes and asking those around us for help with solutions for the benefit of agriculture worldwide.

This was unchartered territory for us, we had never done anything like this before but one thing I’m sure we can all agree on is that businesses need to not be afraid to try; to try something different. We won’t get to where we want to be if we do things how we’ve always done them.

The Challenge

The Challenge came to an exciting close in June, with 28 entries from individuals and teams across 14 countries around the world. The ideas range in style, scope and technology and the winning idea will be chosen by our expert panel of judges. As this is the first time we have hosted something like this, and with such a challenging question we are delighted with the levels of interest and the response we have received. It seems to have truly captured the imagination of students, innovators, entrepreneurs and academics alike.

We’re excited to see what the judging panel choose as the winning idea and will announce later this year in the Autumn.


[1] http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/water_use/index.stm

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