?The price for companies and people? ? Straight Talk 03/28/2016

Per: Rosenildo Ferreira

In times of water stress, companies begin to account for the cost of water in their production processes
The presence of different actors, from different segments, usually helps to enrich the debate. In the case of issues related to sustainability, such as water scarcity and its implications for the lives of people and companies, the meeting of people with different views on the issue helps to mature the debate.

In this context, 1 Papo Reto closes the coverage of the 2016 Water Forum, promoted by the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS), with an exclusive interview with Gustavo Pimentel, managing partner of Sitawi, a ?social bank? based in Rio de Janeiro.

In the surveys led by Pimentel, it became clear that the value of water is already being measured by companies. After all, faced with the expectation of scarcity of this precious and finite liquid, it is necessary to anticipate all possible scenarios. Below are key excerpts from the chat:

Why Sitawi, a ?bank? did you decide to get involved in research on the water issue in Brazil? 

Sitawi has operated a Sustainable Finance program since 2013, under my responsibility, where it provides consultancy and research for financial institutions and investors to incorporate socio-environmental issues into their investment strategies and decisions. We already have models for various topics, such as water, waste, climate change, but also human rights, community relations and human capital management. We understand that this program contributes to our mission of mobilizing capital for a positive socio-environmental impact.

From what was exposed at the seminar promoted by CEBDS, it was clear that water is already seen in the productive sector as an element that impacts the future of companies. From a strategic point of view for the economy, have your studies already shown who loses the most with water scarcity/mismanagement in Brazil?

The impacts of water vary according to the region, sector and size of the company. Large companies, which have production plants spread across the country, end up having protection: if there is a lack of water in a region, production is temporarily shifted to another unit. This was reflected in the sectoral impact survey that we conducted to companies listed on the São Paulo Stock Exchange. Small and medium-sized companies, which most often only have one production unit, are highly exposed to the risk of shortages.

The financial sector, in general, has instruments that could be used to induce sustainable investments, through lines of credit with more attractive rates. Are these mechanisms supported by Sitawi?

Sitawi advocates for more capital, more types of capital and its best allocation to transform more lives. Therefore, just credit lines with more attractive rates are not enough, as shown by the low demand for BNDES lines for energy efficiency. There are non-financial barriers that need to be resolved to generate demand for these investments by the productive sector: regulation, internal competition for resources, high risk perception. On the financial side, a better distribution of risks between the private and public sectors, participation of third parties such as performance certifiers and insurers could also unlock resources. And we need more pioneers who generate success stories. At SITAWI, we seek to generate these cases on a small scale, with our socio-environmental loans.

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