The Mandate Secretariat works to serve endorsing companies by providing salient water stewardship research, guidance, and tools. The Mandate’s work in this respect is currently focused on four primary areas of work:

  1. Direct Operations, Supply Chain and Watershed Management
  2. Collective Action, Community Engagement, and Public Policy
  3. Metrics, Indicators & Disclosure
  4. WASH and Human Rights

Each of these four focus areas is supported by a corresponding Working Group, one of the key ways through which Mandate endorsing companies engage in the work of the initiative. Through Working Groups, the Mandate Secretariat convenes small groups of endorsing companies (and often other key stakeholders) to support and guide the Mandate’s work. Working Group members help shape the direction and design of Mandate projects by:

  • Providing feedback on normative guidance and tools under development
  • Helping to develop relevant resources and best practice case examples
  • Testing and implementing Mandate guidance and resources
  • Participating in collective action initiatives

Key Projects & Milestones in the Focus Areas

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Virtually all organizations use water in their direct operations or within their value chain. Global water resources continue to be strained as rapid industrialization and economic development expand the private sector demand for limited water resources. As a result, businesses have a powerful opportunity to protect water resources and mitigate their own business risk by improving water management within their direct operations and supply chain.

Direct Operations and Supply Chain Stewardship Working Group

To achieve scale, quality, and mainstream adoption, the Mandate empowers endorsing companies to develop and implement world class corporate water stewardship strategies in their direct operations and supply chain. Specifically, the Mandate evaluates endorsing companies’ specific needs and facilitates the development of guidance with input from endorsing company representatives with supply chain expertise.

Specifically, the Direct Operations and Supply Chain Stewardship Working Group provides input on developing resources that:

  • Support companies that have not yet fully addressed WASH, wastewater quality or water efficiency in their direct operations.
  • Help companies to develop or improve the effectiveness of supply chain water stewardship strategies
  • Provide more effective guidance on using water risk evaluation tools, interpreting the results, understanding the local conditions that create risk, choosing appropriate solutions, and integrating this information into water stewardship strategy across direct operations and supply chains.
  • Support companies to meet their commitments to respect and help realize the achievement of the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, thereby helping to achieve SDG6 Targets 1 & 2 for access to water and sanitation.


Future Outlook

Moving forward, this focus area and working group will look to build upon the Water Stewardship Toolbox and Water Action Hub to support awareness of water stewardship concepts and best practices and facilitate transformative projects in at-risk river basins. Ultimately, we aim to build connections among key actors around the world to the many excellent resources that already exist, rather than create new resources from scratch. In doing so, we will support a dynamic, thriving community of water stewardship practitioners around the world.

Today’s complex water challenges will require more than the efforts of the private sector to solve. To drive progress, companies must look beyond their direct operations and engage in multi-stakeholder collaboration that is inclusive of communities and public policy. Organizations must engage stakeholders across sectors and societal spheres to develop interdisciplinary solutions to address key water challenges.

Collective Action & Policy Engagement Working Group

The Mandate strives to achieve transformative impact and sustainable management of shared water resources via collective action and policy engagement. The Collective Action & Policy Engagement Working Group  supports the Mandate’s sustainable water management efforts. The Working Group provides important input and participates in the development of credible, fair, and effective water stewardship initiatives that bring together the private sector, governments, and communities.


Future Outlook

Over the next three years, the Mandate will continue to advise endorsing companies on emerging issues and support collective action opportunities at the watershed, national, and international levels. The Mandate will build on its current efforts to utilize the Water Action Hub as a coordination platform for collective action, and will seek to find linkages with its efforts to support sector, place-based, and thematic collective action opportunities working building on efforts with other key actors in the water stewardship sphere and connecting through the different working groups such as efforts on piloting context-based metrics via the Metrics, Indicators, and Disclosure Workstream or on WASH issues via the Human Rights and WASH workstreams.

Transparency and disclosure of water use against relevant metrics is critical for benchmarking and tracking water stewardship progress.  Greater corporate accountability can be created by developing viable metrics and encouraging corporate water disclosure. Accountability drives more sustainable management of water resources by improving the ability of stakeholder audiences to evaluate a company’s water practices and make industry-wide comparisons.

Metrics, Impact, and Disclosure Working Group

To achieve quality and preserve credibility, the Mandate must maintain effective accountability for itself and endorsing companies. Mandate endorsers commit to take action and to report progress on the Mandate’s six core elements of water stewardship. Transparency is one of the six key elements. Since the CEO Water Mandate’s launch in 2007, each Mandate endorsing company must provide an annual Communication on Progress (COP-Water). The Metrics, Impact, and Disclosure Working Group aids the Mandate in establishing meaningful dialogue with stakeholders by defining key terms and identifying and promoting harmonized metrics and qualitative approaches that support effective reporting and communication.


Future Outlook

The Mandate will focus on the opportunity to align its metrics and reporting work with Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) targets for water and sanitation. The Mandate aims to build consensus within the water stewardship community around impact metrics/indicators and best practices for monitoring and evaluation against the achievement of SDG6.

Globally, the UN estimates that more than 840 million people live without basic drinking water and 5.3 billion people live without safely managed sanitation. While lack of proper water, sanitation, and hygiene can negatively impact economic growth, studies have shown that for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, US $4.30 is generated in economic returns through increased productivity. Sustainable Development Goal 6 aspires to improve the human condition by providing access to clean, safe drinking water and improved sanitation services to all in not just households, but also in schools, healthcare facilities, workplaces, and other public places by 2030.

Human Rights and WASH Working Group

Though the private sector has made progress in improving WASH access, businesses can play a greater role in realizing universal access. The majority of companies have the ability to implement WASH services in their owned and operated facilities. However, many companies face hurdles when seeking to influence suppliers to improve WASH access due to the limited effectiveness of compliance measures or when determining how best to tackles the WASH challenges facing communities where they or their suppliers have operations. The Human Rights and WASH Working Group identify the challenges of WASH implementation in companies’ supply chains and in communities where they operate . The Mandate, with the assistance of the Human Rights and WASH Working Group, aims to help companies’ meet their responsibilities in respecting the human right to WASH services.


Future Outlook

The Mandate will continue to work on improving WASH in companies’ supply chains and in identifying innovative new practices for addressing WASH in communities. Specifically, the Mandate will explore and develop guidance, tools, and resources needed to help companies leverage improved WASH in their supply chains and in using existing guidance on respecting the human rights to water and sanitation as a basis for understanding the best mechanisms to improve community outcomes. Finally, the Mandate plans tor utilize existing collaboration platforms to help learning, implementation and measuring impact.

How to Get Involved

Participation in the Mandate’s Working Groups is available to all Action Platform members.