Grundfos is more than the world’s biggest pump manufacturer. The Danish company is determined to help solve global water challenges, providing solutions that keep even the smallest village in the most remote corner on Earth hydrated.

It is deeply entrenched in Grundfos’ philosophy that businesses have an obligation and a responsibility to help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. That is also why the company is a sponsor of the Global Opportunity Explorer: Grundfos recognizes the enormous business potential in the SDGs, and the deep necessity to scale the solutions and implement the projects that move us towards a more sustainable world.

Mads Nipper, CEO of Grundfos, has been a fan and ambassador of the SDGs ever since the goals were formulated and implemented over two years ago. In fact, he is so committed to the goals that aside from leading Grundfos, he is also a member of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, which works to turn all 17 of them into business opportunities. We caught up with Mads Nipper to ask him why the SDGs mean so much to Grundfos, and which opportunities and challenges the company will face in the future.

Why has Grundfos integrated the SDGs into the core of your business goals?

There are two major reasons: Working with the Sustainable Development Goals on a strategic level provides a business with a framework to guide its actions. The goals are related to solving important global challenges, and by acknowledging and understanding these challenges, a business can open a range of opportunities for itself. On top of that, it is my belief that a business needs a strong purpose to stay relevant. Fighting the good fight, so to speak, working to achieve the SDGs, will not only bring business opportunities, it will also be necessary to engage in the right partnerships, and attract customers as well as new talent to an organization.

What does sustainability mean to Grundfos?

Sustainability is part of Grundfos’ DNA. We have been working with sustainability in our products, and towards our customers, employees and surroundings since our founder’s days. For us, sustainability is not limited to a department or words on a poster on the wall. It is anchored in the way we do business, the way we think, and the way we design our solutions. We are a value-driven company, and bringing sustainability into the core of our business is not something we have just done now. Anchoring the SDGs in our strategy is a natural continuation of our own heritage.

Mads Nipper speaking at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in New York, September 21.

Why do you put special emphasis on SDG 6?

We are a water technology company – with emphasis on water. To us, water comes first. It is the most important necessity for any society. Well-functioning water infrastructure and equal access to resources in good quality is a prerequisite for life. For improving living standards in any society. For developing cities and rural villages alike. For making sure that for example African and Asian girls can go to school instead of walking miles to fetch water for growing crops. You name it. Without water, we can move nowhere.
On top of that, I firmly believe that you need to look at your strong suits when you decide to work to achieve the SDGs. We know water. We have solutions for drinking water, for water treatment and for sanitation, and that’s also a reason why SDG 6 makes perfect sense for us.

In Grundfos’ African markets, the biggest problem with water is not access but distribution. How are you dealing with this challenge?

We are constantly exploring new ways of working, which makes sense from a business and social perspective alike. The water challenges in Africa are substantial. Equal access to water resources, and the quality of water are two of the current and well-known challenges. And, quite correctly, another major issue is distribution. Lacking infrastructure, flawed infrastructure, and water theft are all issues which keep water from reaching people. We have technical solutions that can remedy this. Through intelligent pressure management we can limit leakages and water loss in distribution networks by adapting water pressure to the need of the consumers. And through solutions like the AQtap, a water ATM, we can offer unseen transparency in transactions when it comes to buying water.

Grundfos' AQtap water ATM - part of the company's Lifelink Solutions

How do you see your role in supporting or partnering with cities that have an ambition to be smarter and more sustainable in their growth?

First of all, I see a major potential in collaborating with cities for sustainability. Pumps and connected systems represent up to an estimated 10 percent of the collected global electricity consumption, a number which can potentially be halved by swapping old, over-dimensioned pumps with new, efficient ones. In that respect, support and dedication from the big cities are key in doing this. Add to that a major part of any city’s energy consumption is used in connection to water utilities. Our technical and practical know-how in this area makes us an ideal partner for cities and their utilities. And we can work in different ways: We can support cities and utilities by being a technical partner, introducing our intelligent, digitally enabled solutions to them, and we can take it further by entering into closer partnerships where we make our expertise available in early decision-making phases.

What would you say to other business leaders who are hesitant about making the SDGs part of their business strategy?

I believe CEOs should ask themselves, what they want in their retirement speech: “Did I primarily make shareholders richer?” or “did I contribute with something that truly made a difference to the world?”. Personally, I have no doubt about what I want. Therefore, my advice would be: Do not wait. Act. The SDGs describe key challenges, which must be addressed and solved, and we cannot succeed on our own, neither as businesses, as societies or as organizations. We need everyone pulling in the same direction to make this happen. And this can pay off. There is a trillion-dollar business potential in solving these issues, so it is not some sort of altruistic undertaking. It is sustainable business with a social purpose. Running a business with a purpose will keep you relevant as well as successful.

In a perfect world, in what ways do you see Grundfos leading in sustainability in the future?

We lead by introducing trendsetting water technologies, which can make a difference in the world. By supplying water, removing and treating wastewater and doing it efficiently. We lead by example, showing what it means to be a truly value-driven business that cares for employees, partners, customers and the environment, and acts to make a positive difference in the world. We introduce new, smart and digitally enabled solutions, which make life easier and more comfortable for the people influenced by our products. And we do it together. We engage with old and new partners on all levels to play our part in doing good in the world, while we also do well as a business.

Grundfos is a sponsor of the The Sustainian. Read more about their work on

Author: Joachim Marc Christensen