Water stewardship revisited
Water stewardship remains a critical concept for companies and investors to embrace and implement, but one that is at a crossroads, according to a new WWF briefing—Water Stewardship Revisted: Shifting the narrative from risk to value creation.
To improve effectiveness, we must now journey down the road at greater speed and scale than ever before with the early adopters helping to mobilize the majority. To make that happen, we believe that forging a new narrative—from risk to value creation—will be key.
While much has changed since 2013, much remains the same. Water stewardship, as a concept, remains as critical as ever. The drivers have grown from corporate water risk and been mainstreamed into economic water risk, value and purpose.
We must build upon the successes that have been seen around starting the journey for small and medium sized enterprises, embedding the concept in sustainability standards, building the idea into sectoral initiatives, growing levels of water disclosure and improving collaboration.
Notably, we must collectively work to go beyond internal action and scale up collective action—especially through engagement with the financial sector (around both risk and opportunity).
To forge a new pathway, we need those companies already engaged in water stewardship to help drive a new narrative in the water stewardship space—one that is focused around notions of value, opportunity, collaboration, context, innovation and resilience.
As leading companies reposition around the notion of purpose, especially to attract and retain millennial talent, there should be little doubt that water can form the basis of purpose.
There are still areas that we need to strengthen. There are opportunities for leading companies to:
- Ensure operations, peers and suppliers match risk to basin need
- Harness opportunities to mobilize climate resilience funds
- Build from basin context to meaningful response
- Unlock the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)
- Broaden the narrative to engage the next wave with purpose
- Bridge the collective action chasm
In embracing a new narrative, we need leaders to:
- Build capacity in the next wave (notably lagging peers and suppliers)
- Mobilize new forms of finance (including deploying new approaches to recognize the value of water)
- Align collective action efforts
- Improve contextual performance (that leverages new technologies & data sources)
- Link formal and informal water governance
WWF is committed to realizing this future vision—a vision rooted in the belief that human ingenuity, passion and drive can have a meaningful impact. We will walk the talk.
However, if we are to realize this vision, we will need our corporate partners—the leading water stewardship companies—to raise their level of ambition. Water is everyone's business—and it is a shared opportunity for us all to benefit.