Guide to Water-Related Collective Action

September 16, 2013, New York, NY: The UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate initiative has released the Guide to Water-Related Collective Action, which provides a step-by-step approach to water-resource-related collective action. The Guide, finalized after a year of testing and research on a beta version, helps businesses develop strategy focused on effective, sustainable, and equitable external engagements related to water.

“Effective collective action is key to both approaching shared water risk successfully and addressing a substantial point of vulnerability for many companies,” said Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the UN Global Compact and Head of the CEO Water Mandate. “In its most productive form, collective action leads to a strong sense of shared interests, shared responsibility, and shared benefits.”

There are many forms of collective action, and the Guide helps a company identify the type most suitable for the present situation. This includes looking at interdependence between actors and the capacity to execute collective action, as well as the internal and external interests to engage. The Guide addresses both expectations management and clarity of communication, two factors critical to success. It is built around the idea that corporate management processes are often iterative and cyclical, as opposed to linear, and it includes looking at existing collective actions and stakeholder efforts on the ground before spearheading new projects.

“This guide draws on the experience of numerous successful collective actions undertaken by companies in all parts of the globe and under a variety of circumstances,” said Rob Greenwood, Principal at Ross Strategic and a co-author of the Guide. “Up to this point there has been very limited guidance to help companies formulate effective collective action strategy prior to engaging with external parties – this guide fills that gap.”

The Guide helps companies establish good internal alignment with the drivers for collective action and creates an explicit link to principles of policy engagement, as captured in the CEO Water Mandate’s Guide to Responsible Business Engagement with Water Policy.

“The effectiveness of collective action is critical toward realizing the principles of responsible business engagement with water policy – and the principles are themselves a critical element in achieving effective collective action,” said Jason Morrison of the Pacific Institute, who serves as the Technical Director of the CEO Water Mandate. “The bottom line is that water-related risks are shared among government, business, communities, and the environment. Facilitating equitable processes through which all affected parties can come together to mitigate these shared risks or pursue improvement opportunities is a powerful tool for combating our mounting water challenges. The Guide to Water-Related Collection Action will support companies’ efforts to achieve this alignment.”

The Guide to Water-Related Collective Action can be downloaded free of charge from the Pacific Institute website at www.pacinst.org/publication/guide-to-water-related-collective-action and on the CEO Water Mandate website at www.ceowatermandate.org. It can be used in conjunction with the Mandate’s Water Action Hub (www.wateractionhub.org), the world’s first on-line platform to unite companies, governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders on a range of critical water projects in specific river basins around the planet.

The Guide was developed by the CEO Water Mandate in partnership with Ross Strategic; Pegasys Strategy and Development; the Pacific Institute; and the Water Futures Partnership.

The United Nations Global Compact is a both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption, and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With 7,000 corporate signatories in 135 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative. www.unglobalcompact.org

The Pacific Institute is one of the world’s leading independent nonprofits conducting research to create a healthier planet and sustainable communities. Based in Oakland, California, the Institute conducts interdisciplinary research and partners with stakeholders to produce solutions that advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity. The Pacific Institute works to change policy and find real-world solutions to problems like water shortages, habitat destruction, global warming, and environmental injustice. www.pacinst.org