Industry’s role in ecosystem and watershed management
Demand for water from the private sector is increasing. Industries are implementing strategies that address water across watersheds and value chains and private stewards are proactively engaged on policy and technology innovation. Addressing complex challenges or "wicked problems" such as water and ecosystem management, and their impact on human development, require collective action and business ecosystem strategies.
In many cases the public sector alone lacks the resources needed to address these complex challenges. For the SDGs to be achieved by 2030 the private sector will be a critical partner with other stakeholders. The private sector must have a strategy which compels them to move beyond their fenceline to address risks (including proactively engaging with the public sector, consumers, customers and other stakeholders), drive business growth and contribute to solving environmental and social issues.
SESSION 1: Water as a Wicked Problem and Business Opportunity: How water strategy drives expanded business value.
Complex challenges (“wicked problems”) such as water and ecosystems and their impact on human development require collective action and business ecosystem strategies. In many cases the public sector alone lacks the resources needed to address these complex challenges. For the SDGs to be achieved by 2030, the private sector will be a critical partner with other stakeholders. The private sector must have a strategy which compels them to move beyond their fence line to address risks (including proactively engaging with the public sector, consumers, customers and other stakeholders), drive business growth and contribute to solving environmental and social issues – upstream, downstream, and product use (value chain strategies).
Moderated by Will Sarni, Water Foundry and Alexis Morgan, WWF
09:00 Introduction to session 1 and Think-a-Thon
09:05 Wicked Problems and Opportunities
Tom Higley, Founder and CEO of 101010
09:10 TED-Like Talks, 5 minutes each, Will Sarni introduce and moderate
- Trends in Water Related Innovation to Manage Water Risks,
Xavier Leflaive, OECD
- Innovative Private Sector Initiatives in Addressing Water Risks Including Ecosystems
Justin Story, Aither, Will Sarni, Water Foundry and Valeria Orozco, Nestle Waters NA
- Public and Private Roles Fence lines: Interrogating the Boundary Critically
Therese Rudebeck, Oxford University
- Water Stewardship and Business Value: Creating Abundance from Scarcity
Andre FourieABInBev, David Grant, ABInBev and Will Sarni, Water Foundry
09:35 Panel Discussion 1 – Business Value in Solving Wicked Water Problems
10:00 Panel Discussion 2- Stakeholder Ecosystem Strategies and Engagement
Moderated by Alexis Morgan, All presenters
10:25 Conclusions of Session 1
10:30 End of session
The private sector has a critically important role to play in solving ecosystem and watershed management. While these resource issues represent business risks, they also represent opportunities to create business value while concurrently contributing to solving complex environmental, economic and societal water related problems.
The challenges of ecosystem and watershed management can be framed as a “wicked problem.” One of the most relevant attributes of a “wicked problem” is that they cannot be solved by any one stakeholder. As a result, to solve water challenges, the private sector must engage with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the public sector, civil society and other stakeholders. For the private sector to invest in addressing these ecosystem and water challenges they will need adequate systems of measurement, analytics, and a clear case for monetizing costs and benefits.
The seminar focused on the private sectors role as a partner in the delivery of the SDGs, and reviewed requirements for businesses to implement water strategies beyond their fence line; actions to address water risk (including pro-actively engaging with the public sector, consumers, supply chains, and other stakeholders); business growth and contribution to solving environmental and social issues – upstream, downstream, and product use (value chain strategies). It concluded that it is necessary to frame and quantify the value of water strategy and investments in water stewardship. Quantifying water risk is necessary, but unto itself, insufficient to drive the necessary scale of action and investment required.
Platforms that support multi-stakeholder collaboration, and pre-competitive engagement and peer-learning within and across sectors, play a critical role in motivating engagement and supporting efforts to scale impact. Case studies presented by private sector companies during the seminar illustrated the importance of these multi-stakeholder collaboration platforms. Lessons from the private sector highlighted their role in, and their potential for, driving innovation in public policy, technology, business models, partnerships and financing/funding of solutions. Businesses which have sought to address water, ecosystems and human development needs tend to find cost savings, and new revenue streams, and as a result, are attractive to a wider investor, employee and consumer base (e.g., brand value and brands with a purpose).
The seminar also discussed more bottom-up approaches to ensure an inclusive role for businesses in securing water delivery for all. The UN High-Level Panel for SDG 6 recent recommendation to immediately improve the enabling environment for investment in sustainable water-related infrastructure and services to at least double current investment levels, could be partially addressed by advancing broader cooperation between enablers of water innovation and entrepreneurship. As such, an initiative to create a global water entrepreneurship pact was suggested by the workshop and was followed-up on at a side-meeting of global water entrepreneurship enablers representing development funds, accelerators and incubators. They will be convening, as a pact, a seminar on entrepreneurship at the 2019 World Water Week.