Pacific Institute Insights

Water and Sanitation for All: How to engage with the private sector and create good partnership?

By Jason Morrison, Technical Director, CEO Water Mandate

December 20, 2013

The CEO Water Mandate joined the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership because, increasingly, companies are looking more broadly at how they engage externally with water-related issues, both at the facility and global levels.

Launched in July 2007 by the UN Global Compact (itself an initiative established by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan), the CEO Water Mandate is a unique public-private initiative designed to assist companies in the development, implementation, and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices. It has been a platform for companies to engage strategically with peers and key stakeholders on water and related issues, both from the physical perspective (water security, scarcity, quality, availability for production processes, etc.) and, lately, the reputational and regulatory risk perspectives.

Engagement in the CEO Water Mandate has benefited many companies, but broader coordination at the global and national levels can help the business community understand how to engage further and be even more cost effective and strategic. This is where SWA comes in. A lot of global water institutions and initiatives in not just WASH, but also education, ecosystem services, and other fields, are asking what it looks like to engage the private sector. The flipside of that coin is being asked too. How do we engage with the business sector and figure out what good partnership looks like? I have been tasked with exploring this emerging engagement landscape for the CEO Water Mandate.

This engagement opportunity links strongly to the emerging paradigm of corporate sustainability, seen by many as the next and by far more meaningful iteration of corporate social responsibility, if you will. Companies are moving from sustainability as philanthropy to sustainability as integral part of business. One of the tenets of good corporate sustainability is that companies align programmes and goal setting with public policy priorities and strategic direction.

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