Water Resilience Coalition Accelerates Private Sector Progress Toward 2030 100-Basin Ambition
Coalition’s aim to build water resilience in business operations, supply chains, and water-stressed basins launched as water target of Forward Faster initiative
The Water Resilience Coalition (WRC), an industry-driven, CEO-led initiative that aims to put water stress at the top of corporate agendas, today announced new progress on its 2030 strategy to convene the private sector to build global water resilience. With today’s announcement, there are 21 collective action projects now underway to build water resilience in 15 water-stressed river basins across Asia, Africa, South America, and North America. Since the Coalition’s launch in 2020, 35 global companies across multiple sectors with a combined market cap of US$4.8 trillion and operations in more than 140 countries have joined the effort.
The WRC’s 2030 ambition—for businesses to build water resilience in operations, supply chains, and 100 water-stressed basins—was launched Monday as the water resilience target of the UN Global Compact’s Forward Faster initiative. Launched at the Private Sector Forum during UN General Assembly week, the Forward Faster initiative aims to speed private sector actions in five areas – gender equality, climate action, living wage, water resilience, and finance & investment – for the biggest, fastest impacts across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 6 for water and sanitation. The same private sector water resilience target was earlier launched during the March 2023 UN Water Conference as the “Business Leaders’ Open Call for Water Action.”
“Building on momentum from the historic UN Water Conference in March, the Water Resilience Coalition’s 2030 ambition has set the private sector high bar for acting on water,” said Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, as well as Co-Chair of the Water Resilience Coalition. “The imperative now is to expand this leadership group to a critical mass of leading companies to ensure we move forward faster to reach SDG 6 targets by 2030.”
The Coalition, which aims to recruit 150 of the world’s most influential companies by 2030 with the potential to influence one-third of the world’s water withdrawals, is an initiative of the CEO Water Mandate, a partnership between the United Nations Global Compact and the Pacific Institute. Member companies are actively engaged in building positive water impact in their own operations and supply chains, as well as joining with other companies, NGOs, and public sector actors to build water resilience in water-stressed basins through collective action.
By 2030, the strategy aims to build water resilience in 100 Priority Basins identified on the Water Action Hub, contributing to water security for three billion people and enabling equitable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for more than 300 million people. Tied with today’s announcement, several new companies, including Ecolab, Gap Inc., and ABInBev, have stepped forward as Basin Champions to serve as convening agents for collective action in specific basins. Basin projects currently focus on climate-resilient WASH and investments in nature-based solutions with climate co-benefits.
“We are building the private sector momentum critically needed to advance water resilience,” said Jason Morrison, President of the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank, and Head of the CEO Water Mandate. “Without engagement and leadership from companies, we simply can’t build water resilience at the scale needed to progress fast enough on SDG 6. Together, we are catalyzing water resilience transformation in the face of climate change.”
Many of the collective action projects underway in the first 15 of the 100 Priority Basins are being led by Basin Champions, companies that have shown early leadership to drive positive water impact. The Coalition’s first Basin Champion, Ecolab, is driving action in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin in the United States to contribute to closing California’s 2040 water supply gap.
“The Water Resilience Coalition and its Basin Champion initiative are the premier pathways for harnessing the collective power of diverse stakeholders to achieve our common goals,” said Christophe Beck, Chairman and CEO of Ecolab and Co-Chair of the Water Resilience Coalition. “The business imperative to address the water crisis is clear, and we need more corporate action to accelerate progress on SDG 6 and build a sustainable future conducive to profitable growth.”
As a Basin Champion, the company is working to advance public-private partnerships that will help shore up water access in California. The collective efforts aim to deliver a critical portion of the private sector water savings needed to achieve targets set out in Governor Gavin Newsom’s announced California Water Supply Strategy. Additional projects will be announced later this month.
Since announcing its 2030 strategy in mid-2022, the Water Resilience Coalition has also launched the innovative Water Resilience Coalition Investment Portfolio, advanced the digitization of water basin monitoring through a partnership with the European Space Agency, and piloted the Net Positive Water Impact framework for water resilience.
Twice each year, the Water Resilience Coalition convenes its CEO Circle, a small group of visionary CEOs from member companies, to discuss progress, foster collaboration, and chart a path to reach 2030 ambitions. The CEO Circle will meet today during the United Nations General Assembly in New York and again in January during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. Tomorrow, on September 20, the CEO Water Mandate and Water Resilience Coalition will also hold a UN General Assembly week off-site event to further build momentum. To join the Business Leaders’ Open Call for Water Action and Forward Faster initiatives, and to learn more about how businesses can join in collective action, visit ceowatermandate.org/resilience/.
About the Water Resilience Coalition
The Water Resilience Coalition is an industry-driven, CEO-led initiative of the CEO Water Mandate that aims to elevate the long-term mounting crisis of global water stress to the top of the corporate agenda and to preserve the world’s freshwater resources through collective action in water-stressed basins and ambitious, quantifiable commitments. Water Resilience Coalition member companies include 3M, ABInBev, Cargill, Diageo, Dow, Ecolab, Gap Inc., Kurita, Microsoft, Starbucks, Bayer, Braskem, The Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola FEMSA, Colgate Palmolive, Culligan International, Cummins, Danone, DP World, Dupont, GSK, HCL Technologies, HEINEKEN, Holcim, IHG Hotels & Resorts, Keurig Dr. Pepper, Levi Strauss & Co., MARS, Meta, Netafim, PepsiCo, PhosAgro, Reckitt, Veolia, and Woolworths. For more information, visit ceowatermandate.org/resilience.
About the Pacific Institute
Founded in 1987, the Pacific Institute is a global water think tank that combines science-based thought leadership with active outreach to influence local, national, and international efforts in developing sustainable water policies. From working with Fortune 500 companies to frontline communities, our mission is to create and advance solutions to the world’s most pressing water challenges. Since 2009, the Pacific Institute has also acted as co-secretariat for the CEO Water Mandate, a global commitment platform that mobilizes a critical mass of business leaders to address global water challenges through corporate water stewardship. For more information, visit pacinst.org.
About the UN Global Compact
As a special initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General, the UN Global Compact is a call to companies worldwide to align their operations and strategies with Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Our ambition is to accelerate and scale the global collective impact of business by upholding the Ten Principles and delivering the Sustainable Development Goals through accountable companies and ecosystems that enable change. With more than 18,000 companies and 3,800 non-business signatories based in over 101 countries, and 62 Local Networks, the UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative — one Global Compact uniting business for a better world.
About the CEO Water Mandate
The CEO Water Mandate is a partnership between the UN Global Compact and the Pacific Institute that mobilizes business leaders on water, sanitation, and the Sustainable Development Goals for corporate water stewardship. Mandate endorsers commit to continuous progress against six core elements (direct operations, supply chain and watershed management, collective action, public policy, community engagement, and transparency) and in so doing understand and manage their own water risks. Established in 2007, the CEO Water Mandate was created out of the acknowledgement that global water challenges create risk for a wide range of industry sectors, the public sector, local communities, and ecosystems alike. For more information, visit ceowatermandate.org.