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 | 14.00-15.30 | 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 3: Financing impact acceleration: Savvy, sustainable, and scalable solutions to address industrial water impact

Businesses generate better brand and financial value by addressing their water impact. However, that requires adequate systems of measurement, analytics, and a clear case for monetizing costs and benefits. In this session, we bring together impact entrepreneurs and investors, the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, and others interested in accelerating business value by investing in water strategy, stewardship and management to join together in an interactive acceleration workshop.

Moderated by: Rami Narte, Nordic Agency for Sustainable Impact (NordAgency) and Nicole Dinion, Ericsson

14:00 Workshop introduction
Rami Narte and Nicole Dinion

14:05 Presentation of Accelerator method
Rami Narte + ImagineH2O + CEWAS

14:10 Ted-like Talks
Moderator: Rami Narte

  • Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to accelerate solutions to wicked water problems
    Josh Henretig, Microsoft
  • Quantifying water consumption embedded in electricity generation
    Stefanie Woodward, WSP
  • Identifying impacts of private sector water abstractions: A Kenyan Application
    Julien Harou, University of Manchester

14:25 Acceleration workshop
6 groups discuss bottlenecks and specific challenges, or pain points, to accelerating water impact and entrepreneurship. Each table has a moderator who will report back at the end of the session (2 minutes for participants to move into groups).

Building savvy, sustainable, scalable solutions:

1. Ideation (10 minutes): The working team will brainstorm as many solutions to their pain point as they can. There are no bad ideas, everything should be “yes, and”

2. Dotmocracy (3 minutes): Each team member gets a fixed number of dot stickers, which each count as one vote. They place their stickers on the solutions they like best. One person can place as many dots on a solution as they believe is relevant.

Business Model Basics

3. Value Proposition (9 minutes): The team must articulate the value proposition of their solution

4. Customer Segments (13 minutes): The team should identify customer segments and any relevant nuances to the value proposition for different segments and partnering needs. The team could aim to visualize a value chain or similar

5. Money Flow Diagram (13 minutes): Based on the identified players, the team will build a revenue flow diagram

60 second presentation of results by a volunteer from each table

15:30 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.