When Tackling Water Issues Requires Strength in Numbers

When Tackling Water Issues Requires Strength in Numbers

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Wayne National Forest

When it comes to managing water supplies, particularly in water stressed or scarce areas, it takes a village to make the greatest impact. And within that village there are many players, including businesses, nonprofits, communities and governments. So, how can companies bring all those players together?

Identifying these actors will get a lot easier with a new tool on the horizon that will let companies map stakeholders and existing water initiatives in the watersheds where they operate. The CEO Water Mandate Water Action Hub, an online mapping tool and repository for water resources from Deloitte, will be developed over the next year.

"Although water is a global issue, the solutions are translated to the watershed level," Will Sarni, director of Deloitte Consulting LLP's enterprise water strategy practice leader, said in a statement. "As a result, cooperation among stakeholders within a watershed is essential in building a successful water stewardship strategy."

Deloitte, the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF), Pacific Institute and German International Development Agency (GIZ) are co-developing the CEO Water Mandate Water Action Hub to complement other existing water tools that help organizations map and identify water risks, including the World Resource Institute's (WRI) recently announced Aqueduct project.  

If you're not familiar with the CEO Water Mandate, it's billed as a private-public initiative that helps companies create, implement and disclose their water sustainability policies and efforts. Six CEOs launched the mandate with a call to action in 2007; four years later, roughly 75 companies endorse it. Participation is limited to those that have endorsed the UN Global Compact.

Our archives are full of examples of companies approaching their own water challenges with the help of multiple groups. PepsiCo, for example, recently released the early findings from a joint study with The Nature Conservancy of the watersheds of five of its manufacturing facilities. TNC brought together federal and local agencies, universities and NGOs in Mexico while selecting a site and developing restoration activities, largely due to the complexity of water stewardship in the country.

SABMiller also sees the value of multi-stakeholder cooperation when addressing water issues. The company also joined GIZ to launch the Water Futures Partnership and just released a report examining the business risks in four watersheds. The next step of the partnership involves expansion in order to bring in other stakeholders with whom it can work to mitigate shared water risks.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Wayne National Forest.