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Companies Show Appetite for Scaling Up Water Stewardship At World Water Week Stockholm

Aug 29th, 2017 |

During the last week of August, Stockholm hosts World Water Week, where leading experts and decision-makers come to exchange ideas, experiences, encourage innovative thinking and solution building to address urgent, global water challenges such as this year’s topic “Water and waste: Reduce and Reuse”.

As in years past, companies, as well as non-private organisation, are increasingly eager to demonstrate their awareness and involvement in water stewardship and demonstrates a growing appetite for scaling up action. This was particularly evident in the discussions that took place during the week’s events around the topic of context-based targets. The discussion about how water stewards can and should develop meaningful targets is based on the need to scale up action to the river basin level. World Water Week saw a number of fruitful discussions around how to address the challenges related to setting context-based water targets such as: dealing with a lack of data, the most appropriate indicators for monitoring targets, the inevitable trade-offs between environmental, social and economic objectives and how to align these targets with public sector objectives.

In addition to CEO Water Mandate work, a guide published by the Embedding Project provides an overview of the first attempts of companies to develop Context-Based Water Targets (CBWT) and comes to the conclusion that early adopters often aligned corporate targets with local water scarcity only. True CBWT are evidence of a company’s contribution to a particular water challenge, be it availability or quality, and whether or not that is sustainable in the long-term. Making these targets relevant to the wider catchment, rather than just to internal needs and measurements, is critical to ensuring truly sustainable water management.

With more and more like-minded initiatives emerging, significant work has been done to find areas of alignment. WWF and WRI, for example, discussed the complementary nature of their tools and the power of collaboration between the Aquedect and the WWF Risk Filter. Other sessions looked at how water stewardship could be aligned with policy goals such as the global SDGs as well as how the various water stewardship initiatives fit into the growing water stewardship landscape.

There was also a slight, but noticeable growing interest from investors. At several sessions, investors have been present and involved in a number of the discussions, most noticeably at the OECD  roundtable for financing water. They brought an important perspective to the conversation on how to bridge the investment gap and is evidence of how the investment community is starting to respond to the growing importance of water and the varying interests. Furthermore, their presence also pointed to the fact that investors as a group have different interests, a commercial investor, for example, may not have the same objectives and drivers as an institutional investor.

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