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  • Writer's pictureWill Sarni

From Corporate Water Risk to Value Creation

Corporate Water Stewardship needs to move in a new direction say Will Sarni of Water Foundry and Hugh Share of SHARE Sustainability

Superficially the corporate water stewardship movement is still making progress. We continue to see more companies committing to the concept, developing programs, attending conferences and producing literature, but beneath all this activity there is a strong argument that the movement is stuck. For example, the CDPs 2018 Water Disclosure Report showed that while the number of companies responding to its survey increased from 1,432 in 2016 to 2,114 in 2018, water withdrawals and quality continued to worsen. It looks like activity without impact.

This is not to imply that the private sector alone is responsible for ensuring water security or would replace the responsibility of the public sector. Instead, the question is how we can better leverage the capabilities, scale and speed of the private sector in “solving water” in concert with the public sector, NGOs, academic institutions and civil society.

This article explores why corporate water stewardship has stalled and why it needs to be framed to include business value creation. Our hope is that this shakes things up a bit, that it creates dialog and debate, and helps all of us to use our limited resources as wisely as possible to have the greatest impact. Given the numerous alarming (that risk argument again) reports about increased demand for water, food and energy (nexus stress), overallocation of water (e.g., the Colorado River Basin and several basins in Mexico) and the current impacts of climate change, we really can’t wait.

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