To Lead by Impact: Building an environmentally sustainable business
The impending climate change and the rapidly depleting water tables have serious direct and indirect implications that would lead to social and economic issues across highly vulnerable countries such as India.
Novartis has been one of the early signatories of the United Nations Global Compact and the CEO Water Mandate, and we are committed to reducing our water consumption by half in all our operations around the world by 2025. By 2030, Novartis aims to be water neutral in all areas of our operations, while actively enhancing water quality wherever we operate.
On World Water Day, March 22, 2021,Novartis inaugurated an integrated watershed development project to help address water scarcity in the Telangana region of India, one of the world’s most affected countries.
A watershed is an area of land with a common set of streams and rivers that all drain into a single larger body of water, such as a river, a lake or even an ocean.
It is an interdependent web of living organisms that inhabit a geographic area and depend on it for clean soil, air and water, and it is an entire ecosystem that thrives on it. This integrated approach is essential to promote an inclusive development, one that maximizes economic and social welfare without compromising vital ecosystems. For instance, the project aims to install drinking water and sanitation facilities at local schools, provide livelihood support (e.g., backyard poultry, livestock for milk) to landless families through women self-help groups, and plant 3,000 trees.
Importantly, the program will be very cost-efficient, enabling the conservation of 75 liters of water for USD 1, the equivalent of buying around four liters of bottled water in India.
Managed jointly with theNational Agro Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to “reviving rural India through rural innovations,” the project supports the Novartis 2030 water neutrality target through water conservation and efficient water utilization. It is expected to generate 50 000 cubic meters for rainwater harvesting the equivalent of the volume of water used in 1.4 million showers.The watershed area is located near Hyderabad, Telangana’s largest city and a major industrial hub, and consists of five villages and associated hamlets.
50-60% increase in water availability
Creation of an additional 50,000 m3 water storage capacity
Cropping intensity boosted by 20-30%
Groundwater table augmented by 10 feet (3 meters)
Positive impact on more than 1,000 families through increased availability of water
60 tons of carbon sequestered every year through tree plantation
Increase in farmer income by INR 5,000/acre
“Community watershed programs are among the most impactful strategies to address interlinked issues, but they require empowering communities to use natural resources efficiently to be effective,” says Dr. M. R. Ramasubramaniyan, Executive Director, National Agro Foundation. “This is why the program will provide capacity-building to farmers, in particular training on advanced water-saving techniques and methods to increase agricultural productivity sustainably."
As part of the community building initiatives in the last one year, we’ve successfully created acccessibility to basic infrastructure requirements such as toilets, wash basins, sports kits, water purifiers and basic furniture for schools in the region thereby directly impacting the lives of over 130 students.
In addition to the watershed project, as an active member of the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Initiative, Novartis is supporting the State of Telangana’s efforts to revitalize the Musi River, a vital water source to the Hyderabad area which has been impacted by poor wastewater management practices.