Connect with key partners to leverage sustainable water management and manage the root causes of water risk
Truly transformational, comprehensive stewardship practice requires you to actively engage with others who share the same water challenges and value chain actors within your sphere of influence. Such engagement enables you to advance sustainable water management beyond your own gates and in doing so better address the root causes of water stress and water risk. Engagement activities may be challenging and complex, but are often the most impactful and important water stewardship activities.
Advance sustainable water management and collective action
- Prepare for action & identify potential partners
- Conduct impactful, mutually-beneficial collective actions
- Engage governments to encourage robust water governance
- Address root causes of water stress and water risk
- Build strong relationships with key partners
- Establish leadership in industry sector
One of the two key forms of engagement is partnering with other businesses, government agencies, communities, NGOs, and others with shared water challenges in order to address these challenges in a more effective, efficient, and holistic manner. This “collective action” allows organizations with diverse sets of expertise, knowledge, technology, and financial connections to collaborate on water issues that affect them all (such as collective impacts they might have).
The key benefits of collective action to promote sustainable water management include:
- An expanded pool of expertise, capacity, or financial resources focused on fostering change
- More durable outcomes with strong support from the engaged parties
- Establishment and maintenance of credibility and legitimacy with key interested parties, resulting in improved legal and social license to operate
- Stronger, more sustainable water governance by engaging multiple stakeholders
Collective action can take many forms, from simply exchanging information and data, to seeking advice, to engaging in multi-year partnerships with complex organizational and governance structures.
While collective action can be an incredibly powerful tool and arguably is a necessary component of any robust stewardship plan, it also brings with it many challenges and risks. The decision to partner with others brings with it expectations of prolonged engagement, vulnerability to a loss in reputation if there are negative outcomes, and the need to devote significant resources and time to achieve success. Because of this, companies considering collective action anticipate a wide range of risks and uncertainties to determine when potential benefits outweigh the costs.
The CEO Water Mandate’s Guide to Water-Related Collective Action offers a starting point for understanding collective action and beginning to prepare for action. Guide to Managing Water Integrity in Water Stewardship Initiatives offers insight into how to ensure highly-effective and mutually-beneficial partnerships. The Water Action Hub offers a platform that can help you identify collective action partners with similar interests.
Facilitate improved performance in the value chain
- Establish communication and trust with suppliers and consumers
- Raise water awareness among suppliers and consumers
- Incentivize improved stewardship performance among suppliers and consumers
- Build mutually-beneficial relationships with key business partners
- Manage significant component of company’s water risks and impacts
A second form of engagement is connecting with your value chain partners, especially your suppliers and customers, to promote improved water performance and manage risks and impacts. By facilitating improved water performance among suppliers, you can further insulate your company from water risk and make production disruptions less likely. By encouraging customers to use your product more sustainably, you can reduce your product’s indirect water use while boosting your reputation and brand value.
You can facilitate improved performance in your supply chain through many different means. For example, you can:
- Embed expectations for water-related targets in supplier contracts
- Create supplier scorecards and reward higher performers
- Provide guidance and assistance to suppliers
Many suppliers only need to be provided the business case for action in order to motivate needed change. Supply chain engagement at its core is about using your position of influence to drive meaningful action that is mutually beneficial to the company, the supplier, and the communities in which they operate.
Value chain engagement can also mean engaging consumers to promote more sustainable use, reuse, or disposal of your products. For example, an apparel company might suggest that consumers only wash their jeans once every month.
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