Tech giant unveils latest sustainability pledge, aiming to become a net replenisher of water within a decade and focus efforts on water stressed regions of the world
Microsoft has set set its sights on becoming a net replenisher of water by 2030 in a bid to help manage "chronic shortages of freshwater" expected in the decades to come, it announced yesterday.
The tech giant plans to develop water management strategies across its premises worldwide including in Arizona and Silicon Valley in the US, Israel, and Hyderabad in India, while employees are to be offered water replenishment volunteering opportunities. It's efforts are to be concentrated on 40 highly-stressed water basins where the company has operations, Microsoft said.
"We're tackling our water consumption in two ways: reducing our water use intensity - or the water we use per megawatt of energy used for our operations - and replenishing water in the water-stressed regions we operate," Microsoft president Brad Smith, explained in a blogpost announcing the commitment yesterday. "This means that by 2030 Microsoft will replenish more water than it consumes on a global basis."
Water management innovations already enacted by Microsoft include using water collected by air conditioning units for watering plants in Herzliya, Israel, and building a new data centre in Arizona which - set to open in 2021 - uses a zero water "swamp cooling" method for cooling for most months of the year.
Microsoft has also joined the UN-backed Water Resilience Coalition and created a $10m Climate Innovation Fund as part of the Emerald Technology Ventures' Global Water Fund. The company said it aims to develop solutions that help its customers analyse and adjust their own water usage, to encouarge them to work with other firms to collect and digitise water data in order to flag up regions suffering from water stress.
The latest announcement forms part of the tech giant's target to become a carbon negative company by 2030, and to remove all historic CO2 emitted by the company since its foundation in the 1970s.
"Getting ahead of the world's water crisis will require a reduction in the amount of water humans use to operate economies and societies, as well as a concerted effort to ensure there is sufficient water in the places it is needed most," Smith added. "This will require a transformation in the way we manage our water systems and a concerted effort for all organisations to account for and balance their water use. As a global technology company Microsoft is prepared to act on both accounts, taking responsibility for our own water use and partnering on technology platforms to help others do the same."
More than two billion people lack access to safe drinking water according to the UN, a situation being further intensified by climate change. The UN estimates one in four people may live in a country affected by chronic shortages of freshwater by 2050.
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