29 April 2019
AB Sugar, in partnership with WaterAid and the Centre for Industrial Sustainability at the University of Cambridge, has today announced a worldwide initiative to generate new ideas to reduce water losses from irrigation in sugar, and beyond.
AB Sugar is committed to reducing its environmental footprint; water and energy are the most vital resources for all its businesses and each are increasingly under risk in a world facing climate change, population rises and increasing constraints and depletion of natural resources.
The Innovate Irrigation Challenge seeks to bring people together from across the globe to stimulate new ideas that can have a positive impact on the future of sustainable agriculture by approaching different ways to reduce water losses.
The Innovate Irrigation Challenge seeks to bring together people from across the globe to share their ideas on how to solve the challenge of water loss in agriculture. All entries are to be submitted in a 48-hour period during the 19 and 20 June 2019 online at www.absugar.com/innovateirrigation. This is the first-time we are aware that any sugar business has launched such an initiative, after AB Sugar became the first sugar business to launch its 2030 Group-wide commitments in April 2018.
An expert panel of judges will select a winner, who will have the opportunity to potentially work with AB Sugar and its partners to test the viability of their idea in the field.
With the increasing threat posed by the depletion of water resources, the organisations involved in developing this pilot initiative trust the Challenge will help stimulate new ideas.
Katharine Teague, Head of Advocacy from AB Sugar said:
“We are all witnessing the ever-increasing pressure on water resources. We see this day in and day out in our businesses across the world – which is why we have already signalled our global commitment to reduce our end-to-end supply chain water and CO2 footprints by 30% by 2030.
“Making sugar is water intensive and we are continually taking steps to conserve it by improving our water efficiency per tonne of sugar produced and driving water stewardship by using less drop per crop. However, there is always more we can do to further improve this at our plants located in challenging environments and climates. Our ambition with this Challenge is to encourage idea generation that could help solve one of the trickiest issues not only in sugar, but also in global agriculture as a whole”.
Virginia Newton-Lewis, Senior Policy Analyst at WaterAid, said:
“A staggering 844 million people in the world don’t have access to clean water close to home and there is the real risk that climate change could threaten scarce water resources, so it’s vital that we explore ways to boost the amount of water available for people who need it most. One way of doing this is by finding new techniques to reduce water use and reuse wastewater in agriculture.
“WaterAid is excited to support AB Sugar’s The Innovate Irrigation Challenge. Together, we can work towards a world where everyone everywhere has access to clean water for their basic needs.”
Professor Steve Evans, Director of the Centre for Industrial Sustainability at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing, said:
“Reducing water loss from irrigation in agriculture is no mean feat and the existing tools that farmers have at their disposal are unlikely to be sufficient. That means we need new ideas from bright and passionate people to help us solve this problem. We are delighted to be part of this initiative and are looking forward to seeing the innovations put forward.”
People who are interested in finding out more about The Innovate Irrigation Challenge can visit www.absugar.com/innovateirrigation. They can also join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #InnovateIrrigation. Registration for the event will officially open on 28 May 2019.
If you have any questions regarding this press release or for more information about The Innovate Irrigation Challenge please contact Jack Storry or Annabelle Duke on ABSugar@Grayling.com or 0203 861 3768
Notes to editors:
About The Innovate Irrigation Challenge
The Innovate Irrigation Challenge will be a 48-hour online event held on 19 and 20 June 2019, seeking to bring people together from across the globe to stimulate new ideas that can have a positive impact on the future of sustainable agriculture. Following the event an expert panel of judges will select a winner, who will have the opportunity to potentially work with AB Sugar and its partners to test the viability of their idea in the field.
About AB Sugar
The AB Sugar Group has its head office in the UK and comprises of six operating businesses in ten countries: AB Sugar China, Azucarera (Spain), British Sugar (United Kingdom), Germains Seed Technology (Europe/USA), Illovo Sugar Group (Southern Africa) and Vivergo Fuels (United Kingdom).
In April 2018, AB Sugar was the first sugar company to launch its Group-wide commitments to improve sustainability. AB Sugar has committed to ensure 100% of plastic packaging throughout its supply chain is reusable, recyclable, biodegradable or compostable by 2030. Over the same period, the company will work with its 25,000 partner growers to reduce end-to-end water and CO2 footprints by 30%. The 2030 commitments are part of AB Sugar’s broader ‘Global Mind, Local Champions’ sustainability framework, which is committed to consuming resources responsibly, building rural economies and creating thriving and healthy communities. Further information can be found here: https://www.absugar.com/sustainability
For further information on AB Sugar, please visit our website www.absugar.com or follow us on @ABSugarplc.
WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 26.4 million people with clean water and 26.3 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.
- 844 million people in the world – one in nine – do not have clean water close to home.
- 2.3 billion people in the world – almost one in three – do not have a decent toilet of their own.
- Around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's around 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.
- Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.
- Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.
- To find out if countries are keeping their promises on water and sanitation, see the online database www.WASHwatch.org
About the Centre for Industrial Sustainability at the University of Cambridge
The Centre for Industrial Sustainability (CIS) is part of the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge.
The development of more sustainable societies depends on industries better understanding how to respond to environmental, economic and social challenges and transform industrial behaviour. CIS works to develop knowledge and tools that accelerate the transition towards a sustainable industrial system. We help manufacturers profit from the opportunities of a sustainable future and have supported over 200 companies innovate to become more sustainable.
To find out more about CIS and the Institute for Manufacturing, please visit our website at www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk and follow us on Twitter @IfMCambridge.
 World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage