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Collaboration
Report:
Collaboration Key to Achieving Sustainable Water Management

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development this week released a report calling for businesses to adopt a more holistic watershed approach to water use that considers up and downstream interactions, direct and indirect impacts and local environmental needs.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development this week released a report calling for businesses to adopt a more holistic watershed approach to water use that considers up and downstream interactions, direct and indirect impacts and local environmental needs.

While many continue to underestimate water’s value as a resource, increased pressure on water systems is giving governments and businesses a greater appreciation and understanding of its worth and pricing, respectively.

In recognition of the localized nature of water availability, demand, quality and security, several companies have started to develop collective engagement plans. In undertaking these operations, companies face several challenges such as a lack of established governance systems, weak participatory processes and the difficulty of getting internal high-level commitment in the absence of clear benefits, the report says.

Businesses also are finding it to be more cost-effective to take a watershed approach to managing water risks, which also provides noticeable benefits and opportunities through new revenue prospects, improved reputations, better compliance and cost savings.

Sharing Water: Engaging Business argues that business has a critical role to play in applying its expertise and experience in developing, implementing and scaling-up watershed-focused solutions. Over the next 20 years, a broader, outward focus on water management will be needed by businesses to ensure the sustainable use water resources.

To accelerate the impact of business actions, the report claims there needs to be a shift from cooperating within sectors to collaborating across sectors; focusing on managing risk to seeing opportunities; and self-interested behavior to watershed-based collaboration that engages other stakeholders to improve the shared management of water. Companies also must stop taking water for granted and recognize both its direct value and the worth of its contribution to thriving ecosystems.

Many companies are beginning to take action to safeguard water as a critical industrial resource. Earlier this year Swiss chemical company Clariant released a series of scorecards to demonstrate the percentage savings in water and energy consumption, chemical usage, time, GHG emissions and Biological/Chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD/COD) ratio attainable with its technology compared to conventional methods. And this month action sports lifestyle brand Volcom announced a new set of sustainability goals, which includes water conservation.

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