In 2000, when the UN agreed to the eight global goals known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the relationship between environmental issues and sustainable development was not prominently featured. Today, a wider group of stakeholders understands the vital role that water and sanitation play in the economy, society, and the environment. The process of defining the goals that constitute the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was more inclusive, and the resulting goals are relevant to development concerns facing all nations, including the developed world. The adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which define the global development priorities for the next 15 years, lays out a compelling framework for collective action by government, the private sector, and civil society to address social and environmental issues that inhibit economic development and shared prosperity. Of the seventeen new goals, SDG 6 is dedicated exclusively to ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
This is a rare and critical opportunity to take an integrated approach to corporate water stewardship and access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), and align businesses’ water management practices with SDG6 subsidiary targets, means of implementation, and supporting indicators.
Over the past decade, an increasing number of companies recognize that water poses a significant risk to their business and have begun to take action to mitigate their risks via improved water management practices and stewardship. Companies whose water stewardship practice is aligned with SDG6 targets can improve the effectiveness of their water programs, the quality of data and reporting, and the confidence and trust among their stakeholders. Governments and communities who collaborate with companies to achieve water stewardship commitments related to SDG6 targets can benefit from corporate investment, innovation, capacity building, awareness raising, and collective action.