This World Water Day, Gap Inc. is proud to announce our new 2030 water stewardship goals and strategy. As part of our commitment to enriching communities, we support water resilience in regions touched by our value chain by improving access to clean water and sanitation, reducing water use in manufacturing and company operations, and supporting watershed health to create a positive impact in nature and communities.
By 2030, Gap Inc. aims to:
- Empower 5 million people touched by the apparel industry to improve and sustain their access to clean water and sanitation
- Reduce water use and replenish water to nature, equivalent to the water used in manufacturing Gap Inc. apparel and in our owned and operated facilities
These goals are key milestones on the path to our 2050 commitments through the Water Resilience Coalition to achieve net positive impact in water-stressed areas and support a more water-resilient value chain.
We will make progress towards the goals by focusing on three key pillars of our strategy: Access, Reduction, and Replenishment.
Gap Inc. aims to improve long-term, sustained access to clean drinking water and sanitation in communities touched by the apparel industry.
At Gap Inc., we recognize that water resiliency and women’s empowerment are inextricably linked, as women often face a disproportionate burden of managing household water needs and often need to walk miles to collect water every day. Our Water Access initiatives catalyze women as active participants and leaders in advancing locally driven improvements to water access, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in their communities.
This journey for Gap Inc. began with a pioneering global development partnership, the USAID Gap Inc. Women + Water Alliance. Launched in 2017, the Women + Water Alliance has empowered more than 2.4 million people in India to improve their access to clean water and sanitation.
As the Alliance sunsets in 2023, Gap Inc. is supporting its next evolution by partnering with the Water Resilience Coalition to launch a new collective action initiative: the Women + Water Collaborative. The new program will build upon existing Women + Water program learnings, government relationships, and reporting mechanisms—and with the support of new partners from across industries, it will accelerate the impact to reach additional communities in water-stressed regions.
With a challenge as widespread and complex as long-term access to clean water and sanitation, innovative financing will be an effective way to amplify impact at scale. Gap Inc. is proud to partner with the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) alongside Starbucks, Ecolab, Reckitt, and Dupont to invest in WaterEquity’s Global Access Fund IV. The fund will support financial institutions and enterprises in emerging markets to scale their water and sanitation lending activities, such as loans that enable low-income and marginalized customers to install household water and sanitation solutions.
It is through collective action partnerships such as these—with leading nonprofits, institutions at the global, national, and local levels, private sector companies, and community stakeholders—that we aim to empower 5 million people with sustained and equitable access to climate-resilient WASH services by 2030.
Gap Inc. will strive to lessen our water footprint by partnering with suppliers to reduce freshwater use in apparel manufacturing processes and by prioritizing efficiency in Gap Inc.’s owned and operated facilities.
Water stress is a highly localized issue, so Gap Inc. is working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to identify where to prioritize action through WWF’s Water Risk Filter and to develop guidance for context-based water targets for suppliers in high water-stressed regions where change matters most.
To progress towards those water reduction targets, Gap Inc. will continue to work with suppliers and partners to implement water efficiency improvements through our work with the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii); reduce harmful chemicals and manage wastewater responsibly through our Water Quality Program; expand the use of programs like Washwell that reduce water use in garment finishing by at least 20% compared to conventional wash methods; and help reduce dependency on freshwater by supporting adoption of innovative water treatment and recycled water solutions. Going further, Gap Inc. will help elevate water management across the apparel industry through a new water innovation center, which will launch in 2023 in partnership with India-based supplier Arvind Limited to showcase water reduction best practices and to develop and open-source new technologies and solutions.
To tackle our water consumption, we must look beyond water reductions. For the remaining water that does get consumed in manufacturing and Gap Inc.’s company facilities, we will replenish the equivalent amount in high water-stressed regions touched by our business.
We will work to strengthen priority watersheds in our value chain to reduce business risk from climate change through collective action initiatives such as projects that address watershed regeneration and conservation of nature, as well as farmer trainings that encourage regenerative principles and other good water management practices in their cotton fields.
We will invest in projects that support water availability and quality—with additional benefits for ecosystem restoration, biodiversity, and community water access with an emphasis on inclusion and gender equity—to strengthen water and climate resilience.
We will use the World Resource Institute’s Volumetric Water Based Accounting methodology and other best practice frameworks to measure our impact, and we will ground our initiatives in situational analyses and community-driven solutions.
We will continue to collaborate closely with partners across sectors, nonprofits, vendors across the supply chain, and local community stakeholders to multiply our impact. As a signatory to the UN CEO Water Mandate and its Business Leaders’ Open Call to Accelerate Action on Water, a founding member of the Water Resilience Coalition, and a member of WASH4Work and the Water Resource Institute’s Aqueduct Alliance, Gap Inc. is committed to continuous learning, adoption of best practices, and collective action to help achieve meaningful impact at scale.