August 21, 2017, Oakland, Calif. — Globally, 1.5 billion people work in supply chains, and of those, up to 1.35 billion are employed in small and medium-sized enterprises, or on farms in developing countries, where the water and sanitation crisis is most acute. A new report by WaterAid, WBCSD, Water Witness International, and the CEO Water Mandate (a project of the UN Global Compact and the Pacific Institute) recognizes the need for successful corporate water stewardship to encompass sustainable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for workers in company supply chains, and offers steps for companies to take to help end the global water and sanitation crisis.
Corporate Engagement on Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene: Driving Progress on Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) Through Supply-Chains and Voluntary Standards finds that socio-economic water risks to business can only be mitigated when there is universal and sustainable access to WASH for workers. Significant potential for progressive action on WASH through corporate supply chains exists, depending on the supply chains’ reach and scale, locations in supply countries with high gaps in WASH access, and links to under-served communities. Corporate action on WASH can drive improved access for vulnerable communities, as well as economic and social development.
The report outlines steps companies can take to improve WASH in their supply chains, including deepening employee and company understanding about WASH, updating supplier codes (a draft set of criteria for optimal water, sanitation, and hygiene provision in supply chains is available for pilot testing by companies), and cooperating with agencies, companies, and development partners to address the WASH challenge through the WASH4Work initiative.
Three associated case studies showcase the challenges and successes of WASH4Work in action at three multinational companies: Diageo, Gap Inc., and Nestlé.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) calls for universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.
The report and associated case studies are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Read more about the report and download a copy here.