Water Stewardship

From the United Nations to rural communities to corporate boardrooms, water issues are on the agenda as never before. WWF helps governments and businesses work together to better manage this essential resource.
But water stewardship is more than corporate strategy. It touches people's lives and changes the way we interact with nature.
Meet one woman who is on her own stewardship journey.

And watch the short video below to see stewardship in action in South Africa.

 / ©: WWF International
Water Stewardship: Perspectives on business risk and responses to water challenges. 2013.
© WWF International
Nearly every business sector is water-dependant in some way or another. The first 15 minutes of your day – coffee, jeans and t-shirt, email – have a global water footprint that touches Central America, Pakistan and China.

Yet the supermarket chain, clothing company and microchip maker are just beginning to understand what this life-giving substance means to them, their profits and their long-term viability.

Stewardship goes beyond being an efficient water user. It means contributing to the responsible, sustainable management of freshwater resources. WWF's work on water stewardship helps governments, companies, investors and others understand their water footprints and become better water stewards.

But the journey doesn’t end there. Beyond water footprints and reducing the impact of individual water users, WWF urges companies to look outside their own operations. We are helping redefine the role of the private sector in advocating, supporting and promoting better basin governance, for the benefit of people and nature.

Examples of this work include:
  • Promoting private sector water stewardship at the global level
    WWF is closely involved in initiatives on corporate engagement around water, such as the United Nations’ CEO Water Mandate and the World Economic Forum. We are driving water use standards through the Alliance for Water Stewardship and supporting the uptake of water footprinting tools. 
  • Engaging with individual businesses to reduce the impacts of their water use
    WWF is the partner of choice for The Coca-Cola Company, SABMiller, H&M and Marks & Spencer, among others, to identify opportunities for enhanced water stewardship. We facilitate private sector engagement with public policy to conserve water resources in our priority river basins.
  • Promoting public sector water stewardship at the river basin level
    This includes measuring water use and impacts at the river basin level, demonstrating solutions for reducing these impacts, and promoting national and international policies that encourage good water stewardship and ensure environmental flows.

WWF has challenged Coca-Cola to be the best environmental stewards we can be. They’re holding us to a high standard and that’s going to make us a better company.

Jeff Seabright, Vice President for Environment and Water, The Coca-Cola Company

WWF has the maturity and understanding of business for us to be very open, and they can challenge us, and help us change our thinking, but we trust there will be an understanding of our position.

Andy Wales, Head of Sustainable Development, SABMiller

What do you know about water risk?

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