September 24, 2016
Water for Sustainable Growth — UNGA and SWWW
Between Stockholm World Water Week (SWWW) and UNGA, the focus by many multinationals and the public sector is on SDG 6 — universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
The theme for SWWW was on water and sustainable growth. Without access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, there is no sustainable growth.
I am proud to be a member of the Scientific Program Committee at SWWW. In this role we build the Seminars which underpin the scientific contributions to the overall SWWW program. This year was particularly exciting for me as Deloitte co-convened a full day Seminar on water and business growth.
The Thematic Scope for the 2016 SWWW was broken into the following areas.
· Water, jobs and sustainable growth.
· The water and growth challenge.
· The economic perspective.
· The social perspective.
· The ecosystem perspective.
· Governing water for sustainable growth
At SWWW, several multinationals participated in a full day seminar on “Water stewardship: a driver for business growth” (http://programme.worldwaterweek.org/event/6309). The seminar consisted of three segments — corporate water stewardship, policy and engagement and water tools. The seminar brought together companies such as Coca Cola, Intel, ABInBev, GE, Sanofi and Nestle SA to discuss leading practices to quantify and mitigate water risks through the application of water risk tools, predictive analytics, collective action and public policy engagement.
The key takeaways from the Seminar were:
1. Companies build and execute water stewardship strategies to mitigate complex physical, regulatory and reputational water risks across their value chains to support business growth.
2. Corporate water risk mitigation strategies will not succeed without a strong framework of water governance to address root causes of water challenges and through collective action with diverse stakeholders.
3. There are a number of tools being used to drive better water outcomes and in many cases driving growth, however, improving these tools can help enhance and build on corporate water stewardship to drive business growth.
4. We need to better incorporate reputational risk and brand value into our water strategies along with innovation in new business opportunities, products, services and funding models
My take and recommendations to businesses is that water is more than a Corporate Social Responsibility reporting line item. It is essential that access to water is essential for economic development, business growth and social well-being. Social well-being is now within the domain of the private sector to collaborate with the public sector, NGOs and academic institutions to ensure we meet the 2030 goal of universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
Water is a human right and a human (shared) responsibility.
The private sector is now stepping up to jointly deliver on the 2030 SDGs.