Guidelines for Companies Seeking to Advance Corporate Water Stewardship
Water scarcity, pollution, climate change and other problematic global trends pose major challenges to businesses now and will continue to do so in the years ahead. It is increasingly clear that the era of easy access to water is ending, creating perhaps a greater threat to businesses than the loss of any other natural resource, including fossil fuel resources. Corporate Water Sustainability – also known as corporate water stewardship – has emerged as a response strategy to water risk. It is seen by many as both good business and critical for the well-being of communities, ecosystems, and watersheds.
At its core, Corporate Water Sustainability is a holistic management approach that encompasses the development, implementation, and disclosure of a broad range of water polices and practices. In this regard, true Corporate Water Sustainability requires that a company look beyond its “fence line” to consider its water footprint along its value chain and in specific river basins and watersheds. Further, emerging practice emphasizes the importance of responsible engagement in public policy as well as collective action and collaboration across industries and also in terms of business partnering with Governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations, and other interests.
Finally, leading practitioners of Corporate Water Sustainability emphasize the need to integrate water policies into other key sustainability issues, such as energy and climate change, and food and agriculture.
The UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate provides a global platform to advance corporate water sustainability and stewardship, and is today endorsed by companies from numerous industries and regions.
Examples of Good Corporate Practices
- Partner with external water organizations and relevant civil society organizations to conduct comprehensive water-use assessments and set targets for water efficiency, conservation, and waste-water treatment.
- Work with suppliers to understand the company’s total “water footprint” and set associated water sustainability goals and targets across the value chain.
- Partner with local water municipalities, community organizations, and other groups to analyze and respond to risks within a given watershed where the company operates.
- Partner with other private-sector organizations, governments, and civil society and community organizations to diffuse technologies — including efficient irrigation methods, new plant varieties, drought resistance, water efficiency and salt tolerance.
- Partner with relevant public authorities, civil society organizations, and other interests to help improve overall water governance within a given jurisdiction — emphasizing efficiency and equity.
- Partner with local authorities and civil society organizations to develop improved water infrastructure, including water delivery and sanitation delivery systems.
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