As part of its latest environmental efforts, the world’s largest software company Microsoft has vowed to become “water positive” by 2030. Under Microsoft’s sustainability initiative, it aims to overcome its water consumption rate in two ways – by reducing water use intensity and replenishing water in the water-stressed regions where it operates.
We have reached the point globally where humanity depletes the available freshwater supply at a rate of 4.3 million cubic meters every year – the majority of which goes to agricultural and industrial uses. This needs to change, which is why we’re announcing an ambitious commitment for Microsoft to be water positive for our direct operations by 2030. – said Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
150 of the world’s biggest companies are capable of influencing one-third of the global freshwater resources. By acknowledging the role played by private sector companies in depleting freshwater resources for monetary gains, Microsoft invites a collaborative approach in resolving the ongoing water crisis. It is also looking forward to joining forces with Water Resilience Coalition members to co-invest in availability, accessibility, and quality projects in water-stressed basins to bring about a meaningful change and also partner with other companies to join their initiative.
Throughout the years, Microsoft has committed to becoming a carbon-negative zero waste company. Its recent water pledge is the fourth and final project in its sustainability mission plan, which requires a sustainability design standard across its global operations to overcome its water consumption levels. Certain features of the plan include:
- Microsoft’s Headquarters at Washington will be redeveloped to optimize water conservation.
- The Silicon Valley campus opening in California will have an on-site rainwater harvesting system and waste treatment plant. The integrated water management system will help in recycling water and save 4.3 million gallons of potable water annually.
- A new project in Hyderabad, India, will facilitate 100% recycling and reuse of wastewater for flushing, landscaping, etc.
- Microsoft will use innovative technology to digitize water data and optimize replenishment in the most affected regions.
Microsoft’s sustainability initiative to become water positive by 2030 will be achieved through its replenishment strategy that includes investment in various projects such as removal of asphalt, which will restore water back into the basins and wetland restoration.
A “highly stressed” basin is one wherein withdrawn water exceeds 40% of the replenished supply. Microsoft will then replenish these regions with more water than its global consumption rates across all basins. It has also created a designated Climate Innovation Fund to overcome its water consumption levels. It will invest $10 million in Emerald Technology Ventures. The fund will partner with early to expansion-stage companies worldwide who will help drive innovation and adoption in water technologies.
Furthermore, Microsoft wishes to address the global disparity in the availability of freshwater resources. This will be achieved through partnering with Water.org, which is a leading non-profit organization devoted to establishing water equity across the globe. Under this partnership, Microsoft will help more than 1.5 million people from underserved communities to get access to clean water. Thus, the company’s goal is not only restricted to the issue of water availability but also water accessibility for all.
Private sector companies such as Microsoft are becoming more environmentally conscious. By pledging to shift to a sustainable operational structure, Microsoft’s sustainability initiative will eventually contribute to replenish its water consumption by 2030. Microsoft wants to get the ball rolling by starting a global sustainable movement across all industries.