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28. October 2010

Borealis and Borouge celebrate three years of Water for the World™

Three years after its launch at K-Fair in 2007, Borealis, a leading provider of chemical and innovative plastics solutions and its joint-venture in the Middle East and Asia, Borouge, draw a first successful balance of their corporate social responsibility programme Water for the World™. Since its launch, Water for the World has directly reached around 260,000 people all over the world and has built a platform for partnerships with stakeholders from the plastics industry, renowned organisations and agencies.

As the first global programme in the plastics industry to address the water challenge, Water for the World achieved significant project milestones in four areas:

  1. Supporting water access projects

  2. Developing and promoting best-practices

  3. Raising awareness in communities

  4. Advancing sustainable water management

Supporting water access projects

More than one-third of the world population is currently lacking access to safe drinking water or sanitation. Providing water access has therefore been one of the key focus areas of the programme. Borealis and Borouge developed a number of projects in close partnership with the local plastic pipe industry and local and international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs).

Borouge partnered with the local Sushma Koirala Memorial Trust to provide the continuous supply of piped fresh water to a school and 2000 residents in a district of the historic town of Bakhtapur in Nepal.

In Sichuan, China, which was struck by an earthquake in May 2008, Borouge joined NGO Lien Aid and the Singapore Water Association to alleviate the water problem for the 10,000 inhabitants of Shengli, a village and resettlement camp near Beichuan County. Borouge supplied the polyethylene material to its customer, Szechuan Chinaust, who produced the pipes and delivered them to the village, 300km away, and supported them with the installation.

On April 6, 2009, the Abruzzi region of central Italy was hit by a major earthquake which destroyed the town of L'Aquila. Under the umbrella of its Water for the World programme, Borealis, together with Italian pipe producer System Group-Centraltubi, took the initiative and provided on a pro bono basis the infrastructure to supply drinking water to the temporary apartments of 1,800 displaced people.

Developing and promoting best-practices

Spreading best-practices in water supply and conservation to the utility and agricultural communities across the world is a challenging target. In 2007, Borouge initiated the Gulf Plastics Pipe Academy (GPPA), a pioneering organisation with the mission of raising standards as well as providing knowledge and expertise along the entire water value chain. Establishing long-term and sustainable water solutions is of paramount importance in the Middle East, one of the world's most water stressed and fastest growing regions. The GPPA has attracted over sixty members and has already been influential in raising quality standards and improving installation and maintenance techniques in the region.

As the leading producer of plant nutrients along the Danube, Borealis initiated the so called "Club of Professional Farmers" with the objective to spearhead sustainable farming practices. Precision farming is based on providing crops with exactly the right amount of fertilisers needed at each stage of their growing cycle.

Raising awareness in communities

To raise awareness and encourage a more efficient use of our precious water resources, Borealis has initiated the Water for the World photo exhibition which took its origin from the book "Troubled Waters" by renowned Belgian photographer Dieter Telemans. Since its launch in November 2008, the exhibition has already visited all Borealis locations in the world and triggered a number of water-related activities together with local communities and schools.

In Finland, Borealis partnered with the WANDER Nordic Water and Materials Institute and the Finnish Water and Waste Water Works Association to launch a 'virtual' Water School - a web-based learning environment directed to schoolchildren. Following the success of the initiative in Finland, the web platform is planned to be rolled-out in 2011 in other Borealis locations and languages.

Advancing sustainable water management

Sustainable water management is a global challenge and many international stakeholders and organisations including ISO are now developing tools and standards to assist industry achieving this target. Working within the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Borealis and Borouge have become recognised leaders in the development of these tools and standards.

An example is the pioneering investigation of the water footprint of plastics which Borealis carried out in co-operation with the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH). It sets a key indicator for all industries to better assess environmental performance alongside energy and carbon footprints. Building upon this experience, Borealis and Borouge will work together to further apply "water footprinting" in their value chains and share the concept with industry partners.

"I am proud that with our Water for the World programme, we could already supply water and sanitation to around 260,000 people all over the world, especially in Asia," says William Yau, CEO of Borouge Pte in Singapore. "But the challenge is far from over as the water demands to feed the growing populations in many Asian countries will necessitate a major change in farming practice with the introduction of modern micro-irrigation systems and we will focus our efforts on this challenge. We will also continue our work in educating our value chain and our communities about the world water challenges."

"Water for the World is part of our long-term commitment to sustainability and to addressing the global water challenge," says Borealis Chief Executive Mark Garrett. "We have already achieved some significant milestones but the global water crisis remains an imminent challenge for humankind to whom we will continue to contribute with our expertise, our partnerships and our innovative solutions to make a difference."

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