Partnering with the Experts on Water Conservation – The Nature Conservancy and DB Breweries

12 Sep 2022
Brewing a Better New Zealand

Freshwater is a precious resource that New Zealanders cherish; whether it’s for a swim in the river during hot summer days, throwing in a line for a spot of fishing, generating energy to power our homes and businesses, or for quenching one’s thirst, it’s important that we look after it. Whether by improving the amount of water entering our waterways or the quality of our water sources, water stewardship plays an important role in keeping our waterways healthy.

At DB we take water stewardship seriously through water efficiency efforts in production, but also through partnerships with those who are experts in conservation. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a not-for-profit organisation full of experts who aim to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends, and therefore a fitting partner to help us at DB to achieve our water stewardship goal for our Auckland Waitematā Brewery. By 2030 we want to have balanced the water we use that goes into our products through projects that improve the quantity and quality of water in our source water catchments.

TNC has a long history of tackling the root causes of some of the toughest problems facing people and nature today and replicating good ideas to save places and improve people’s lives. Over the last two decades, TNC has worked with more than 600 partners in 13 countries on four continents to create 41 water funds and has 35 more funds in development. The recent water supply issues facing Auckland have further reinforced the need to address our water issues in New Zealand. In 2019 we undertook a source water vulnerability assessment for our Auckland site, and it was identified that the Waikato River was a water source that would benefit from water stewardship. TNC had also recognised that the Waikato River could benefit from collaborative solutions to restore the river and were keen to explore solutions together. With Auckland drawing their additional drinking water from the Waikato, the discussion about creating New Zealand’s first water fund for the Waikato River has never been more relevant.

TNC with others identified the Waikato River as the potential site of New Zealand’s first water fund, which we are locally calling the “Waikato Catchment Care Fund”. Water funds are sophisticated financial tools that utilise an innovative ‘payment for ecosystem services’ approach underpinned by a collaborative financial and governance model that secures long-term funding for the conservation of watersheds. They are structured to mobilise investment from users (including utilities, businesses and government agencies) to secure improved water quality and regulate water supply – from reforestation efforts and wetland restoration to improved agriculture practices. Each water fund is unique, and the conservation activities vary from place to place depending on local opportunities and regulations. Investors and partners view the funds as a smart way to achieve collective impact for the environment and businesses by minimising treatment costs and reducing water shortage or quality risks in the future.

Stakeholders within the Waikato catchment have been busy over the past few years in identifying and undertaking new initiatives to enhance, restore and improve the catchment. A collaborative and collective sustainable financing model to support the freshwater outcomes of the catchment will complement these new initiatives. There remains an exciting opportunity for community-led integrated catchment management that delivers conservation, economic and cultural benefits. By changing land use and shifting the scale of nature-based restoration approaches, we will improve freshwater quality and quantity, along with climate and biodiversity outcomes that will benefit nature and its people.

The project is now in its second year, with continued stakeholder engagement to further explore the collaboration required for the Waikato Catchment Care Fund and other opportunities in innovative conservation tools, collective action, and finance mechanisms to complement existing initiatives in the Waikato. By the end of this year TNC, with partners, will identify potential pilot projects which will add value to freshwater conservation in the Waikato River, which will meet DB’s water balancing requirements where measurement of water replenishment is based on sound scientific calculations to quantify the impact had on the freshwater source.

“TNC is grateful for the continued support from DB Breweries for our work in the Waikato Catchment” says Emma Dent, Director of Development at TNC. We at DB are excited to further our partnership with the TNC and over the coming years look forward to seeing the tangible, positive impact that our efforts and those of other stakeholders are having in the Waikato River.


If you want to find out more about TNC’s projects in NZ, please contact Emma Dent: emma.dent@TNC.ORG