Stockholm International Water Institute / World Wide Fund for Nature / International Council on Mining and Metals

Industry’s role in ecosystem and watershed management

Wednesday 29 August | 11.00-12.30 | Room: NL Music Hall
Susanna Starck, SIWI

Demand for water from the private sector is increasing. The OECD projects that by 2050, 40 percent more water is required globally than in 2000. While addressing operational water issues, industries are now implementing strategies that address water in watersheds and value chains and proactively engaged on policy and technology innovation.
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 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.

Gold standard events are committed to ensure the gender balance in speakers/panellists and young professional representation in the session.


SESSION 2: Industries’ Stories from the Field: addressing water, ecosystem and human development challenges

The more expansive role for the private sector is driving innovation in public policy, technology, business models, partnerships and financing/funding of solutions. This seminar will explore the financial, technical, social and resource management business cases for private sector across global value chains. This seminar will highlight case studies that have effectively addressed water, ecosystems and human development needs through collective action and business ecosystem strategies.

Moderated by Nicky Black, ICMM

11:00 Introduction session 2
ICMM and Think-A-Thon

11:10 Part 1: Presentation of industrial practices
Supply Chain solutions:
1) A public-private partnership implements corporate water stewardship in Colombia
Carlos Toro, Colombia National Cleaner Production Center
2) Greening the construction chain through cleaner production & organizational learning
Paola Vasquez, Autonoma de Occidente University

Water Re-use methods
3) Coal Industry's contribution to Water-Ecosystem through Gainful utilization of Mine-Water
Sekhar Rayaprolu, Western Coalfields Limited
4) Sinopec: Grey-green infrastructure to serve industry and nature
Arnoud Penverne, Veolia

Collective Action
5) Mining Sector Collective Action on Water: Challenges and Opportunities outside
Scott Miller and Briana Gunn, Newmont Mining
6)  Promoting responsible water stewardship within the agri-business sector
Ruth Thomas

12:05 Fishbowl discussion on the role of business in water stewardship
Starting with abstract presenters and then opening room for the participants in the room

12:25 Closing Remarks

12:30 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.