Water Stewardship: Perspectives on business risk and responses to water challenges

Posted on August, 27 2013

Stockholm -- As a key collaborating partner to Stockholm World Water Week 2013, WWF will take the opportunity to present our latest publication on the theme of water stewardship.

“Water Stewardship: Perspectives on business risk and responses to water challenges” is a slim volume that succinctly puts WWF’s “stake in the ground” on what’s worthwhile and what’s not when it comes to business engagement on water.

“As problems of governance, scarcity and pollution have spread and intensified, interest in protecting water has diversified. More than ever before, business leaders realize that their long-term profitability – even viability – depends on the right quantity and quality of water available at the right time and place to meet the needs of people, business and ecosystems. …

The concept of water stewardship serves to unite a wide set of stakeholders interested in water management. In common usage, it often refers to business action on water challenges. In this brief we are using the term in this common sense, as it relates to business – while acknowledging that there is no universally agreed definition of what water stewardship is, who it applies to, or what makes one a “good” water steward. …

We recognize that business engagement in water management debates, and especially public policy, provokes significant concerns from some NGOs and the public, including fears about business takeover of global resources. At the core of these concerns are two issues.
  • First, water is a highly complex public resource with multiple socially defined functions and values. Its effective management requires the continual reconciliation of trade-offs between private interests and collective well-being, not to mention fulfillment of a fundamental human right.
  • Second, although they must “have regard to” wider social and environmental interests, many companies are legally obliged to prioritize the needs of a set of narrow shareholder interests (Newborne and Mason, 2012). To ensure that the profit motive of companies is balanced with social and environmental values, WWF and others must be able to separate water stewardship rhetoric from substantive action, and challenge and measure company participation in ways that benefit more than just the near-term financial bottom line.”

For further information:
Copies of the brief will be available during World Water Week 2013 at the WWF booth, B03:40. 
Programmatic enquiries: Stuart Orr sorr@wwfint.org
Media enquiries: Gretchen Lyons glyons@wwfint.org
Water Stewardship: Perspectives on business risk and responses to water challenges. 2013.
© WWF International