Can business help achieve water sustainability goals beyond 2015?

Can business help achieve water-related sustainability goals in a post-2015 world? The answer is an emphatic "yes."

In fact, the private sector accounts for the majority of global water use, when including both industrial use and agriculture-based supply chains. One could argue that achieving such goals without direct business involvement and support would be near impossible.

The good news is that many in the business community share an interest in achieving more sustainable water management, as there’s a growing understanding within companies that such an outcome is perhaps the most viable long-term strategy for addressing water-related business risk.

To the degree to which a comprehensive goal for water will be included in the post-2015 development agenda, this broadened perspective on water will resonate deeply with many private sector companies. Looking at the UN Millennium Development Goals, the focus for water was on access and sanitation to meet basic human needs, which is arguably only tangentially related to direct business interests.

Yet the current UN-led global consultation on water in the post-2015 world has expanded beyond setting policy objectives relating to access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). It now includes objectives relating to water resources management and wastewater, as well as water quality more generally. Achieving targets associated with these latter two aspects of water inherently will require engagement of and collaboration among all segments of society.

This was one of many conclusions of a day-long conference organized by the CEO Water Mandate in Mumbai, India, in March. That event explored the role of business in advancing potential global policies around increased WASH access, improved water resources management and governance, efficient water use and pollution reduction.

However, to look to 2015 and beyond, one must understand why and how businesses seek to collaborate with others to address water challenges. Shedding light on today’s situation illuminates why and how companies will prove a key asset in cooperative efforts to advance the post-2015 development agenda.
Image by Ilin Sergey via Shutterstock
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