The power of partnerships in tackling global water challenges

The power of partnerships in tackling global water challenges

Since 2018, Xylem and Manchester City FC have been working together to inspire and motivate the football community to tackle water challenges on a global level. This unique partnership, now also encompassing New York City FC and Mumbai City FC, has already reached more than one billion people with water awareness, education and volunteerism initiatives that advance Xylem and the Club’s shared mission to create a more sustainable world. But there’s more to do!
Xylem and the three Clubs recently announced the renewal of this innovative partnership for another four years, with the aim of driving a further 100 million people to participate in water-related initiatives in their communities. To celebrate the milestone, Making Waves caught up with Pete Bradshaw, Director of Sustainability at City Football Group (CFG), for his perspective on the partnership’s achievements so far, and his ambitions and goals for this next phase.

MW: CFG’s partnership with Xylem has achieved so much during the first four years. What has been a personal highlight for you?

PB: There have been so many amazing campaigns and inspiring moments in our work with Xylem. Without doubt, a highlight for me is the "Raining Champions" initiative. This was a powerful campaign that aimed to show people how we can make smarter use of water to make it go further, like recycling rainwater from our stadium roof.

Rather than letting precious water run down the drain, technologies exist to treat “wastewater” so that it can be safely reused – be that for use around the house or in industry, or even for drinking water. In the case of Raining Champions, we went a step further, using the treated rainwater to make beer! The campaign captured the imaginations of fans and increased awareness of the potential to recycle water as a way to tackle water shortages.

MW: What do you think has contributed to the success of the partnership?

PB: Collaboration! Working together and bouncing ideas, thoughts and challenges off each other has ensured that there is ongoing dialogue – not just in Manchester, but with the various projects around the world too.

MW: How can football be used to advance global sustainability goals? Where does CFG’s approach fit in?

PB: As a club, Manchester City and our sister club’s NYCFC and Mumbai City, recognize that we have the ability to use our voice and influence to encourage the diverse communities we connect with to change behaviours and adopt more sustainable approaches.  
Football is a world force and remains "the people’s game." The reach of football is immense and includes people of all nations, of all ages and all backgrounds. The excitement and entertainment of football is matched by fans’ enthusiasm and passion. Football is a game – be it professional or amateur, in any place and on any surface – that just about everyone can play and enjoy.  This creates the perfect platform to highlight global issues like water, and provides a vehicle for change.

MW: What are you hoping to achieve for the Club over the next four years – both on and off the pitch?

PB: We’re focused on driving further progress towards our sustainable development and operations credentials, recognizing our role in protecting and securing the resources of our planet for the future. Among these, we’re working hard to deliver on our aim to become credibly carbon net zero and water positive by the end of the decade. Xylem will support in this mission through the development of water usage and discharge strategies that will help us increase efficiency and reduce waste on existing and future estate developments.
On the pitch, we’re aiming for continued success and the most exciting and entertaining football. We want to demonstrate that these goals can work hand-in-hand. These successes are interlinked – water, energy, transport, waste and ecology will form our priorities, reducing waste and consumption whilst we grow, sustainably and responsibly.

MW: How are you working with Xylem to advance the CFG’s wider sustainability strategy?

PB: We’re partnering to accelerate CFG’s sustainability agenda across our operations, as well as working to mobilize football fans on urgent water challenges. For example, the Xylem team are embedded in the planning and development of CFG’s water-related sustainability initiatives, frequently joining workshops with our operations and development teams to share best practice. This approach ensures we are bringing the latest innovations – technology, processes and approaches – to help reduce our water consumption.
The ongoing collaboration means our teams understand the strategies and actions we’re undertaking, allowing us to share progress and learnings with our communities for a ripple effect. It’s an incredibly important and rewarding partnership, and one I am proud to be involved in. Together, we have an opportunity to solve one of the biggest challenges of our time – and we’re only getting started. I am excited, motivated and inspired by the milestones that lie ahead.

Read more about Xylem's partnership with City Football Group.