Chott El Jerid, a salt lake in Tunisia situated in the south of the country, it covers a surface of over 5,000 km² with a length of 250 km and a width of 20 km. Photo by Elisabetta Lattanzio Illy​

Water, water everywhere?

Water, according to Leonardo da Vinci, is the ‘vetturale della natura’ – the driving force of nature. It sustains human life, health, well-being – and the economy. And yet, according to the United Nations, water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the global population – a figure that is predicted to rise.

In a 2015 UN World Water Development Report, the Director General of Unesco stated that around 748 million people still had no access to an uncontaminated source of drinking water, while water demand for manufacturing was expected to increase by 400 percent between 2000 and 2050. As the report underlined, water is essential for promoting inclusive sustainable development. It supports human communities; maintains the functions of ecosystems and ensures economic development.

Water management is increasingly becoming a top priority on corporate agendas and management plans as businesses strive to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as part of their 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

SDG number 6, “Clean Water and Sanitation”, aims to ensure there is sustainable water management and sanitation for all people around the world. So protecting the world’s water resources is an environmental issue now taking its place alongside climate change and de-forestation. And major companies around the world are rapidly becoming attuned to the significance of water management and water security. CNH Industrial is one of them.

​In November 2017, CNH Industrial was included in the prestigious CDP ‘A’ list of 74 corporations regarded as global leaders in sustainable water management. The CDP ​(formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) is a not-for-profit charity that has set up an international system to allow companies such as CNH Industrial to measure, manage and disclose the environmental impact of their activities.​

The global disclosure system has been running for 15 years, spans 90 different countries and has resulted in the most comprehensive collection of self-reported environmental data in the world. Every year more organizations join the scheme. The resulting mass of data allows corporations, investors and policy-makers to come to better-informed decisions on activities and issues that could have a significant environmental impact.​​

CDP Chief Executive Paul Simpson says the organization’s aim is to achieve a thriving economy that works for people and the planet in the long term: “Our mission is to focus investors and companies on taking urgent action to build a truly sustainable economy ​by measuring, understanding and reducing environmental impact. It’s a turning tide; an increasing number of companies are waking up to the importance of water security.”

So how is CNH Industrial helping to lead the way in this field?​

Image: ​In 2017, CNH Industrial has been included in the prestigious CDP ‘A’ list​

Wiser water practices begin at home

The promotion of sustainable water development and improved water efficiency starts in CNH Industrial’s manufacturing plants and offices. The Company is dedicated to increasing water efficiency in its processes, to increasing water recirculation, and to reducing water consumption and the volume of water discharged.

As the world’s population continues to grow and economies develop, demand for water rises. So while environmental stewardship is important, the Company believes sustainable management of water is critical from a business perspective, too. CNH Industrial’s goal is to reduce water withdrawals per unit of production by three percent across all plants compared with 2014.

This target is in line with the SDG number six, and focuses not only on water withdrawal but also on different discharge management systems, which vary according to the specific characteristics of the country where the plant is located.

In 2015, CNH Industrial introduced new water-management procedures for all CNH Industrial plants. Every site is expected to raise awareness among staff about responsible water use – not only at work, but also at home. The results speak for themselves. From 2014 to 2016, the combined efforts of all CNH Industrial plants resulted in a total reduction in water withdrawal of more than 600,000 m3 and reduced total water discharge by over 700,000 m3​.The Company’s water-recycling index currently stands at 27.5 percent at a global level.​


The bus manufacturing plant in Rorthais, France, is recycling the water used for vehicle leak testing – a move that is expected to reduce water consumption by 40 percent.​​​

In Vittorio Veneto, in Italy, CNH Industrial adopted a new system to collect rainwater from the roof and channel it into the water-jet cutting system, reducing municipal water withdrawals.​

In Brazil, at the plant in Curitiba, demineralized water collected in the last phase of painting pre-treatment is reused.​​

​​The future

The Company’s drive for increased water sustainability has pushed it to adapt and innovate, saving resources and money and engaging staff and communities in wiser water practices. It’s just one of the reasons why CNH Industrial is on the CDP’s ‘A’ list of global leaders in water sustainability.​​

The need for good water management has never been more urgent as rising temperatures and growing populations strain the world’s groundwater supplies. Some 40 percent of global food production relies on groundwater irrigation and, according to new research from University College London, its volume has been depleted by 22 percent over the past 10 years.

As CNH Industrial’s EMEA Sustainability Development Initiatives Manager Daniela Ropolo notes: “Water is one of the most critical issues, not only for our Company and not only for the United Nations. Water resource sustainability is critical for the future of the entire world.”​


​​​​​​New Holland Agriculture, a global agricultural-equipment brand of CNH Industrial, is active in 34 African countries, including Tunisia. The brand’s equipment defends cultivated soil, increases yield and decreases waste. It has set up a three-year pilot project that aims to help build and repair traditional water-collection systems, improve agricultural practices and train farmers.

Kebili is a small agricultural town in south-west Tunisia and one of the hottest places on earth. An oasis in the desert, with a population of 62,000, it is the capital of the Kebili governorate, near the Algerian border. ​

The region is prone to both extreme drought and devastating floods. According to a 2015 report by the World Resources Institute, Tunisia will be one of the 33 most water-stressed countries by 2040, with up to 80 percent of its natural water resources potentially lost.

​Photo by Elisabetta Lattanzio Illy​

The Tunisian government is focused on natural resources and the development of an integrated approach, particularly with regard to water and soil conservation. That’s where CNH Industrial comes in: for sustainable and consistent economic growth, you need sustainable and consistent water supplies. In 2015, CNH Industrial (through its New Holland Agriculture brand) donated $150,000 towards a three-year pilot water-management project in Tunisia. “We want to work in Africa and help develop projects that are in line with our sustainability priorities,” says Daniela Ropolo, EMEA Sustainability Development Initiatives Manager at CNH Industrial.

Photo by Elisabetta Lattanzio Illy​

CNH Industrial has teamed up with the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries. Over the course of the project the partners will build and repair traditional water-collection systems, train local farmers in best practice and create orchards, wooded areas and vegetable gardens for families. The Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture studied the potential social and economic impact of the proposal. “We wanted to design and put into practice a project with a high level of sustainability and a synergy with one of our core businesses,” says Ropolo.

Photo by Elisabetta Lattanzio Illy​

​​​​​​​​​​The objectives are to reduce rural poverty and food insecurity in Kebili by strengthening the regional and local capacity to adapt to changing conditions.With its partners in the Ministry of Agriculture, CNH Industrial hopes to help develop a comprehensive plan for economic and agricultural development in this arid region. It will focus on engaging with the local population to improve techniques and create simple, flexible solutions.

Photo by Elisabetta Lattanzio Illy​

Run-off water is an important resource here. All of the partners are working to improve these systems, which use built barriers to trap soil particles and run-off water, creating pools and promoting soil fertility. ​Surface-water is also collected in rainwater storage facilities that have been built or reconditioned. These act as supplementary irrigation and drinking-water supplies.

The Company is also talking to the local population. They can share their knowledge, learn new techniques and apply new principles to their agricultural practices to improve sustainability of resources in arid zones. More than one-third of the population is engaged in agriculture for their main income. Many households have some sort of family garden, so the plan is to increase the number and viability of vegetable gardens in particular. CNH Industrial and New Holland’s partners will work with the local population to establish supply points for irrigation and construct raised water tanks. Ideally, by the end of the third year, water and agricultural resources will be collected and managed more sustainably by local producers, and Kebili’s soil-reservoir capacity will be greatly improved.

Photo by Elisabetta Lattanzio Illy​