AWS member Tongaat Hulett’s collective action in South Africa
Tongaat Hulett is a South African headquartered agriculture and agri-processing business. Focusing on the feedstocks of sugarcane and maize Tongaat Hulett have significant operations in six SADC countries. One of the first members of the Alliance for Water Stewardship, the company recognise that sustaining water resources will be key to securing inclusive growth and development in the Southern Africa region.
Tongaat Hulett’s belief in water as a route to shared, sustained prosperity is evidenced in their use of the AWS Standard in operations adjacent to the uMhlathuze River. A highly water-stressed catchment the company have significant farming and milling operations close to the uMhlathuze, which flows into high conservation value wetlands around the busy deep-water port and industrial hub of Richards Bay on the east coast of South Africa.
Guided by the AWS Standard Tongaat Hulett have taken steps to collectively address the severe water risk in the catchment via a leadership role in a new multi-stakeholder platform aiming to tackle shared water challenges through collaboration. Titled the uMhlathuze Water Stewardship Partnership, or uWaSP, Tongaat Hulett’s partners in the platform include the National Business Initiative, the Strategic Water Partners Network, Grindrod, Richards Bay Minerals, Transnet, Mondi, GIZ’s International Water Stewardship Programme, WWF and the Pongola-Umzimkulu proto-CMA. The uWaSP partnership is fully endorsed by the RSA Department of Water and Sanitation.
Vuyo Kona, Executive Head of Sustainability, says: “Tongaat Hulett strives to be a proactive and resilient organisation working in collaboration with all its stakeholders in a focused, constructive, mutual value-adding and developmental manner. As such, Tongaat Hulett’s commitment to the uMhlathuze Water Stewardship Partnership is being guided by international best practice as expressed in the Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard.”
Tongaat Hulett’s commitment to water stewardship comes as the impacts of climate change and rapid socio-economic development place a severe strain on water resources in the Richards Bay/Empangeni nexus, one of the key economic growth points in South Africa. Kona believes Tongaat Hulett’s commitment to AWS gives practical effect to its core values on securing inclusive growth and development. “In respect of water Tongaat Hulett had been seeking a credible framework to translate its global values to locally appropriate actions. The AWS Standard presents just such a framework. The AWS Standard provides a framework for moving forward rapidly with wise collective action. I am confident that we will learn valuable lessons in the uMhlathuze Water Stewardship Partnership.”
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