Held on the first day of the 8th World Water Forum, the Water Business Day reports outcomes of the first edition of the event, which was organized by The National Confederation of Industry (CNI) in partnership with the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS) and UN Brazil Network for Global Compact. This initiative, resulted in the production of a document (so far, only available in English) that inaugurates a process of systematization of business actions in the quest for water security. On the 18th, a panel and three workshops were held with business leaders, representatives of industry associations, industry federations and international organizations.
The event started with a leadership panel from several industries: Roberto Bischoff, Vice President Global Competitiveness – Braskem; Naty Barak, Chief Sustainability Officer of Netafim; Teresa Vernaglia, CEO BRK Ambiental; Cristiano Cobo, Director of Operations, AngloAmerican Brasil; Olga Reyes, Public Affairs and Communications Vice President Latin America at The Coca-Cola Company; Luís Garcia Prieto, Head of Operations, Nestlé Brasil. The main messages were:
The industry is part of the solution to the water issues and we need more engagement of the value chain and rational use of water in every operation.
Water reuse should be promoted along with innovation and partnership development.
Access to water, sewage collection and treatment (sanitation) is a great opportunity. Its development depends on favorable and constructive regulatory and legal framework, playing a great role in the national political agenda.
Companies need to improve awareness on water use inside and outside of their operations. Businesses also have to play a role in influencing and changing attitudes to help countries achieve sanitation and water for all people.
Every person can do their part to save and reuse water, on a daily basis. From small to major changes, they are part of raising awareness and finding solutions for water resource management and alternatives for better use.
Society needs to develop individual responsibility principles for water management. Governments should encourage long-term planning for all, aiming to support and stimulate both society and businesses to reduce consumption and make better and more conscious use of water resources.
Workshop 1: The Circular Business Case for Water
Reducing, reusing and recycling water saves costs and reduces business impact on the environment. However, circular water management practices originated from the Circular Business are not so popular. Workshop 1 aimed to shed light on current barriers and opportunities to circular water management (ROI, Value of Water, Finance, and Policy), key success factors, solutions and tools for implementation. It also showcased successful examples of circular water management solutions and lessons learnt in order to bring them to scale.
To encourage adoption of circular solutions, industries pointed to the need for robust regulation that recognize and provide incentives for companies that invest, or want to invest, in new water management approaches and technologies with increasing efficiency in both use and quality. “Government is an important and constructive partner for private sector. Good practices from countries that regulate the water sector appropriately should be highlighted. This can be an opportunity to building a conducive environment of trust between different stakeholders”, says the document.
According to companies, innovation in business models and financing is needed. Traditional funding models are unable to fill the critical financing gap on water. To operationalize such models, new types of hybrid institutions are needed that have the capacity to bridge public and private actors and create opportunities to attract projects and manage these sustainably.
Workshop 2: Water Risk -Metrics, Monitoring and Reporting
The aim of workshop 2 was to explore water risks, from metrics and monitoring to reporting. Two panels were held; the first on corporate water risk and the second on water as a systemic issue, exploring the link with forests and finance.
According to the document, multiple companies identified the need for national and international databases on water consumption, supply, demand and quality, and for easy access to these databases. This will help inform strategy and planning.
Companies called for landmark regulation to ensure that the investment in reuse of water and wastewater is safe, both in terms of water quality and continued regulatory certainty.
Workshop 3: Water Stewardship to Advance the SDGs and Create Shared Value
Finally, Workshop 3 explored the corporate water stewardship as an opportunity for companies to face the challenges of the sustainability agenda, and, at the same time, contribute to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
In this respect, the document defends that SDG 6 provides a common language and shared goal that can be used to drive collective action among business, governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders.
In addition, companies can be a powerful force in building the enabling environment to accomplish the SDGs by sharing their internal tools, good practices, and knowledge with suppliers, SMEs, and other companies. In doing so, they help build capacity and facilitate action on SDG 6, which aims to “Ensure water availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”
Content published in March 23, 2018