Sustainable growth is on tap at World Water Week

Riksdag Building and Norrbro Bridge in the Evening, Stockholm, Sweden
Riksdag Building and Norrbro Bridge in Stockholm, Sweden.

The focus of 2016 World Water Week, ongoing in Stockholm, is on water and sustainable growth — a combination of economic development, business growth, social impact and achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

World Water Week promises to move all of us closer to achieving the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goal No. 6 — universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

The opening plenary session kicked off Monday. However, Sunday featured sessions and events sponsored by leading NGOs and multinationals addressing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. 

The thematic scope for the week is 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

I participated in two sessions this week, including a presentation on recent research on "Achieving the energy-water-food SDGs" led by Rabi Mohtar of Texas A&M. The event provided a summary of the energy-water-food SDGs. It also established performance metrics for a pilot project in Morocco, an opportunity to mobilize stakeholders to move forward with the pilot. Pilots such as this are essential in moving from SDG commitments to achievement.

My heavy lift was a full-day seminar, "Water stewardship: a driver for business growth," convened by Deloitte Consulting, WWF, WBCSD and DHI group. It was well attended for corporate water stewardship, policy and engagement and water tools. The seminar brought together Coca-Cola, Intel, ABInBev, GE, Sanofi, Nestle SA and others 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 included:

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. A number of tools are being used to drive better water outcomes and in many cases drive 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.

I will dig into greater detail on the last item in my next report.

Topics: