Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor and World Wide Fund for Nature
Borealis & Borouge; BPD; Grundfos; H&M; International Hydro-power Association; Isle Utilities; SABMiller; The Coca-Cola Company; Unilever; Vitens Evides International and World Business Council for Sustainable Development
This seminar will bring together private sector, government and NGO partners to present examples of successful cross-sector water partnerships, and to identify key components for effective cooperation. Cases will show how global corporations are working with other sectors to move beyond CSR, developing businesses that contribute to universal access to water and sanitation, and integrating the principles of good water stewardship into core businesses activities.
This new level of cooperation is being reinforced by supportive policy reforms. On the one hand, policies encouraging private sector investment in sustainable market development are increasing. On the other hand, water stewardship is being boosted by vital policy reforms governing both private and public sectors, such as dialogue multi-stakeholder collaboration to develop innovative environmental standards such as the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.
Photo Credit: WWF-Canon. Simon Rawles
14:00 Welcome/Objectives/seminar set-up. WWF and WSUP
14:10 Panel Discussion
14:50 Questions & Answers
15:30 Coffee Break
16:00 Panel Discussion
16.40 Audience Questions
17.20 Conclusion and Wrap-up. WWF and WSUP
Our session was attended by a packed house who was highly engaged in the session through table dialogue and interaction with the speakers. They heard that the business case has been made; it’s time to work with competitors to drive real change that has real positive impacts on the bottom line.
In the first session we discussed how competition does not stifle collaboration – in fact Coca-Cola, SABMiller, H&M and Borealis all stated quite the opposite. David Grant, Senior Manager of Water Risk & Partnerships at SABMiller highlighted that competitors nearly always share watersheds, riparian areas, floodplains and other water resources. He argued that an improvement in water management in that watershed will benefit your competitor regardless of whether they are involved or not, so why not engage them? A competitor can help shoulder the burden of a risk mitigation project and consequently the scope of impact may be significantly increased.
Audience questions challenged the companies on supply chains, government action or inaction on water, internal coherence and buy-in from board level representation. There was a wide agreement from the panellists that these arguments are becoming easier to make as risk becomes more factored into decision making.
The second session, with panelists from Unilever, Vitens Evides International, Isle Utilities and Grundfos discussed two main questions: how can companies develop the business case for investing in products & services with social and environmental outcomes and how can private companies make a meaningful contribution to the water and sanitation MDGs. The consensus was that it is not about CSR, it is about a genuine change of mindset. Aligning products and services which address the needs of people of all income levels, and which take account of the environment, can be good for business. Some of the conclusions and recommendations arising were: