Opinions

Connecting businesses to water stewardship

Connecting A New Generation Of Businesses To Water Stewardship

Over the last ten years, I’ve seen the water stewardship movement grow from a fledgling practice of a few corporate leaders to one that is poised to break out into the mainstream of corporate sustainability. More and more businesses acknowledge that they face a wide range of water risks and are looking to water stewardship to help manage those risks.

At the CEO Water Mandate, traditionally our role has revolved around garnering corporate commitments to action and then offering thought leadership that helps shape leading practice. We have carried out this work through several key guidance documents, such as our Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines, Guide to Water-Related Collective Action, Guidance for Companies on Respecting the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, Guide to Managing Integrity in Water Stewardship Initiatives, and more.

Spreading existing stewardship thinking and resources to new audiences

However, we now realise that while cutting-edge thought leadership is still essential to advancing water stewardship, more is needed. While new resources are vital, we also need to simply connect a wider range of companies to the dozens of existing guidance, tools, reports, etc. developed by the Mandate and many other organisations. In doing so, we can push water stewardship into the mainstream and get more companies embarking on the water stewardship journey.

An online compendium of over 200 resources – guidance, tools, datasets, case studies, best practices, & more

This is the rationale behind the Mandate’s Water Stewardship Toolbox. The Toolbox is an online compendium of over 200 resources – guidance, tools, datasets, case studies, best practices, and more – from the Mandate and dozens of other organisations. It offers a quick and accessible way for companies of all shapes, sizes, and levels of experience with water stewardship to connect to the resources that most help them understand water risk and advance stewardship.

Navigating the Toolbox

We found out rather quickly that a library full of hundreds of resources can be quite overwhelming and unmanageable for many businesses, especially those just beginning to explore stewardship. With such a wide selection, many users of the initial versions of the Toolbox were left uncertain of where to begin and what resources were most appropriate for them.

As such, the Toolbox now offers many ways of drilling down to and discovering the resources most relevant and appropriate for each user based on their own needs and circumstances. It tags each resource across several different parameters, including type of activity (e.g., water use efficiency, water risk assessment, collective action), scope of activity, language, location, industry sector, developing organisation, and more. So, users can go to the library of resources and set filters to find the specific resources of most relevance and interest to them.

Toolbox now offers filters for users to drill down on individual needs

Toolbox snapshot (2)

The Water Stewardship Journey

Stewardship is a long and complex process. Not every company has the same needs or interests. In particular, not every company has the same level of experience with water stewardship. Some resources in the Toolbox may be too sophisticated for new users, while others may be too basic for more advanced users. Others may be neither too sophisticated or not sophisticated enough, but simply not relevant to the type of activities a company wishes to pursue.

The Water Stewardship Journey framework illustrates the range of stewardship activities businesses ideally conduct

As such, the Toolbox is organised around the Mandate’s Water Stewardship Journey framework. The Journey framework (shown below) illustrates the range of stewardship activities businesses conduct ideally. Activities at the beginning (left) tend to come first for most companies. Activities at the end (right) tend to come later on and are typically more challenging to implement – yet often are more impactful. From the Toolbox home page, users can click the aspect of the Journey they are most interested in pursuing and connect to the resources relevant to that stage.

The Water Stewardship Journey (2)

Making the Toolbox more useful for Chinese users

We are always keen to keep expanding the Hub. In particular, I am hoping to feature more Chinese-language resources over the course of 2018 as we would very much like to make the Toolbox useful and accessible to Chinese audiences. Perhaps even more importantly, we are always keen to improve and evolve the Toolbox. We’d very much appreciate your insight and feedback on how we can make it as helpful and practical as possible.

If you’d like to help us continue to build out and improve the Toolbox, please drop me a line at [email protected].


Further Reading

  • Water Stewardship: The Bright Dairy & Food Case - Chinese dairy mega company, Bright Dairy & Food, successfully used water footprint assessments to better water stewardship. Tongji University’s Hongtao Wang and Jin Xu along with WWF China’s Aihui Yang guide us through the case study
  • Barclays-Tsinghua China Water Summit: Key Takeaways - The Barclays-Tsinghua University China Water Summit brought together industry leaders, corporations, investors and academics to discuss water solutions for China and Asia. Barclays analyst Zachary Sadow recaps key views from the summit
  • Rising To The Water Challenge - Barclays analyst Zachary Sadow shares key findings from their report with the Columbia Water Center on how US energy companies and public utilities can help alleviate water shortages through new tech and practices
  • Ministry Reform: 9 Dragons To 2 - What does China’s long-awaited ministry re-shuffle mean – who manages what and how? China Water Risk’s Woody Chan and Yuanchao Xu review the roles and impacts of the new Ministry of Ecological Environment & Ministry of Natural Resources
  • Eight Million: China & The Global Plastic Challenge - Sustainable Asia’s Marcy Trent Long & Sam Bekemans share their new podcast series “Eight Million”, which looks into the plastic waste pollution issue globally & in China and what is being done. China Water Risk is featured in episode 2
  • Water Stewardship In Industrial Parks: The Kunshan Case - Kunshan City ranked as China’s most developed county-level city but faces increasingly serious water challenges. Alliance for Water Stewardship’s Zhenzhen Xu, WWF’s Aihui Yang & Qiandeng Environmental Protection Bureau’s Dadi Feng share experiences from their water stewardship project
  • Water Stewardship In Industrial Parks: TEDA Pilot - Industrial parks generate 22.5% of China’s GDP but can this last given water security and pollution concerns? An Chen, from the TEDA Eco Center & Zhenzhen Xu from the Alliance for Water Stewardship show how the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area leads in mitigating these risks
  • Developing A Global Water Stewardship System - Alliance for Water Stewardship’s Zhenzhen Xu, Ma Xi & Michael Spencer introduce the first ever global water stewardship standard and share lessons learnt from Ecolab’s pilot at their Taicang China chemical plant
  • Why Should PRD Business Lead In Water Stewardship? - With the Pearl River Delta set to lead China’s economic growth, China Water Risk’s Feng Hu & the Alliance for Water Stewardship’s Zhenzhen Xu explain why business should adopt water stewardship to ensure continued prosperity
  • Water Stewardship: The Impact To Date - A new report finds there has been little evolution from business -as-usual in regards to water management. What behaviours need to change? How can this be achieved? We sat down with report authors James Dalton from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) & Peter Newborne from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
  • Innovating Water Stewardship Through Business Ecosystems - William Sarni, water stewardship expert, on the need for innovation in water strategies in order to better position for 21st Century water risks. Sarni points to “business ecosystems” as the driver for this innovation and value creation
Peter Schulte

About Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte joined the Pacific Institute in 2008 and is a Senior Digital Engagement Associate in the Corporate Sustainability Program. His work focuses on connecting companies and a variety of stakeholders with research, guidance, case studies, and best practices that lead to improved water stewardship.

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