Marketing Report
Carlsberg Group and WWF targets wetlands to safeguard water resources

Carlsberg Group and WWF targets wetlands to safeguard water resources

Nearly two billion people already live in areas at risk of severe water scarcity.

 Following an extensive water risk assessment of Carlsberg Group’s global brewery sites, the company has partnered with WWF with the partnership seeking to restore wetland ecosystems and increase water availability in basins in four locations in China and Laos.

Water resources are under increasing pressure from over-abstraction and pollution, climate change impacts, and the continuing rapid loss of freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity – 83% of freshwater species populations have been lost since 1970, much faster than terrestrial or marine species.

Established in 2023, the partnership between Carlsberg Group and WWF is the starting point for a process aiming to rejuvenate vital wetland ecosystems and replenish local water resources to ensure basin sustainability.

Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, Head of Sustainability & ESG, Carlsberg Group: “Water is an essential part of our products, and it is vital for us as a company to engage in a broader basin context as part of our water stewardship journey. The challenges of replenishing local water resources are ever more eminent, with climate changes taking effect. This partnership will play a pivotal role in protecting and restoring water resources, safeguarding vulnerable ecosystems, and preserving biodiversity.”

The selected regions hold strategic importance to Carlsberg Group as the four breweries in these areas face a heightened water risk, including for example a declining water quality, and deteriorating ecosystem services. Similarly, these project areas hold equal importance for WWF, as they are in two priority ecoregions – the Yangtze River basin and the Mekong River basin – are home to hundreds of millions of people and rich freshwater biodiversity.

Bo Øksnebjerg, Secretary General, WWF Denmark: “The ecosystems around the Yangtze and Mekong rivers are of enormous importance to the local population living in the area as well as for the flora and fauna thriving in their natural habitats. The pressure on water resources is increasing. By restoring nature in the area, it is possible to ensure more water for the local population, the threatened wildlife, and businesses. The situation is critical right now. Therefore, it is important for businesses to support nature's own solutions.”

A partnership for restoring wetlands and replenishing water resources

The partnership's first three projects are in China along the Yangtze River. One project will improve the wetland landscape to enhance the black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis) habitat, the world's only alpine crane species residing on high-altitude wetlands.

 Another project aims to construct a new wetland to collect nutrients from wastewater, and the third project focuses on improving wetland biodiversity and purifying wastewater from aquaculture. The partnership's fourth project site is in Vientiane, Laos, near the Mekong River. This project aims to manage water levels better and improve aquatic flora conditions.

The partnership is developed based on results from the WWF Water Risk Filter, an online tool which enables companies to explore, assess, and respond to water risks in their production and supply chain.

Bo Øksnebjerg: “Nature is in trouble. Therefore, all companies should map and reduce their impact on nature. We are very pleased that the Carlsberg Group is leading the way in restoring unique wetlands in China and Laos. The partnership will protect and restore rivers and wetlands for the benefit of both local communities and nature.”

The four wetland restoration projects will also work to replenish 100% of the water consumption by the four Carlsberg Group breweries targeted in the partnership. This will contribute to the company's strategy to achieve 100% replenishment of water consumption at breweries in high-risk areas by 2030.

Simon Boas Hoffmeyer: “We are pleased to see the partnership with WWF launched, as we are committed to addressing the challenges of safeguarding precious freshwater resources internationally. At Carlsberg Group, we are committed to achieving zero water waste as part of our Together Towards ZERO and Beyond programme.”

The partnership started with a full year of scoping to select the most relevant project sites and design the most impactful interventions. The project will run until the end of 2025, and in the coming two years, Carlsberg Group and WWF will implement the activities at the four designated project sites in Laos and China. The partnership works closely with WWF-China and WWF-Laos, who will be responsible for delivering the impact with support from relevant governmental partners and other stakeholders.