I worked in Tunisia as General Manager for Henkel from 2002 to 2005.
Professionally, it was a great experience, but I learned a lot on a personal level too.
Our ocasional weekend trips into the Sahara desert were especially powerful.
One of the most impressive things was the sound of silence.
In 2010 I returned to Tunisia with my children to share the Sahara experience.
We drove south by Land Rover, travelled through the desert on camel back and slept in tents. We all loved it.
Apart from the absence of sound… there is the obvious absence of water.
But as we go about our daily lives, we all take it for granted.
We use it, we waste it, and we pay way too much to drink it from little plastic bottles.
In the desert you realise that, in some parts of this world, people don’t have access to water.
Clean, safe drinking water is scarce. Yet people need it every day.
Here in the Sahara you realise you cannot overstate the importance of access to clean water!
It’s hard for most Europeans to imagine a lack of clean, safe water.
But in the developing world, finding a reliable source is often time-consuming and expensive.
This is known as economic scarcity – you’ll find water eventually… but you need more resources to do it.
In other areas, the lack of water is a more profound problem.
There simply isn’t enough. This is physical scarcity.
In Europe though, where I live with my family and work as general manager for Henkel Home Care Benelux, access to water is not an issue.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not conscious of the impact of our products on the environment.
The main sustainability focus of Henkel is water and wastewater.
I talk to other people about this issue, and started discussing it at home. I have explained to my kids that being conscious of the importance of water is important, and that there are numerous areas on our planet where people really struggle with ‘water scarcity’.
This issue will need extra attention and thought from the next generation.
Read more stories on: Around the World in 80 Brands
Tags: Jean-Baptiste Santoul, Sustainability, Sustainable, CSR, Corporate Social Responsability, Green, Sustainability Guru, Tunesia, Sound of Silence, Henkel, Persil, Witte Reus,