Water Stewardship is good for the planet, good for people, and good for business.
Water poses one of the most vital sustainable development challenges of our time.
According to the World Economic Forum, water crises are the single most impactful risk facing the world today.
Water stewardship is the use of water in ways that are socially equitable, environmentally sustainable, and economically beneficial. It can be adopted by businesses, through corporate water stewardship, as well as by growers, communities, and others. Ultimately, stewardship is a tool to address these critical water challenges and drive sustainable water management.
What are the core actions of effective corporate water stewards?
- Provide water, sanitation, and hygiene for all employees.
- Drive efficiency and reduce pollution in their operations.
- Facilitate improved water performance in their value chain.
- Advance collective action and sustainable water management in river basins.
- Achieve continuous dialogue with stakeholders.
So, why stewardship? Simply put, water stewardship is good for the planet, good for people, and good for business.
Water stewardship empowers businesses to identify and manage the many water risks threatening their growth and viability. It also enables them to seize the ever-growing list of water opportunities available to their companies. Ultimately stewardship helps companies make invaluable contributions to solving the world’s water crises, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and supporting human rights.
By implementing water sustainability practices, companies can:
- Reduce costs – Stewardship pays for itself through efficiencies.
- Protect themselves from operational disruptions due to insufficient water supplies.
- Maintain and strengthen their license to operate.
- Gain competitive advantage and boost brand value.
- Assure investors that the business is viable for the long term.
- Drive improved productivity and talent recruitment.
UK drinks company Diageo Plc has reduced the volume of its water withdrawals by nearly 1 million cubic meters this reporting year and estimates the cost savings associated with this reduction to be approximately US$3.2 million.
Businesses from a wide variety of sectors – including mining, food and beverage, forestry, textiles, and electronics manufacturing, among many others – face increasing risks related to water. They face physical risks stemming from having too much water, not enough water, or water that is unfit for use. They face regulatory risks as governments’ approaches to managing water resources lead to changing, ineffective, poorly implemented, or inconsistent policy or regulations. They face reputational risks, as local communities, investors, and consumers increasingly expect businesses to act in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Two thirds of the world’s largest companies are reporting exposure to water risks, some of which have potential to limit growth.
Water stewardship is an overarching, dynamic framework for understanding and addressing water risks to your business. Through stewardship, you can understand the impacts caused by your operations, identify and manage the risks facing your operations, engage suppliers to improve their performance (and in doing so, manage your own risk), and promote sustainable water management in river basins of strategic importance to your business.