Engaging the Private Sector in Water Security

GWP recognises the importance of the private sector, a key stakeholder, in delivering the water-related development agenda. The integrated water resources management approach can add value to existing corporate stewardship initiatives and leverage the strengths and perspectives of the private sector to improve water management and governance.

The private sector – from small and medium enterprises to large businesses – is an essential partner in the sustainable governance and management of water.  As Howard Bamsey, Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund, observed at the Stockholm World Water Week in 2017:  ”The private sector will simply not invest until the water governance is right, from policy development to law and regulation, down to local governance arrangements”.  

Beyond offering an important voice in support of better water governance, the private sector brings unique perspectives in terms of innovative water technologies and processes. It influences and connects key water-using sectors - upstream suppliers and downstream customers. Corporate water strategies, designed to identify and manage the multiple dimensions of water-related risk (physical, regulatory, and reputational) are increasingly expanding their scope beyond direct company operations to include the entire relevant watershed.

Synergizing Corporate Water Stewardship (CWS) and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is timely and appropriate for at least three reasons:

  • Both CWS and IWRM are grounded in mitigating water risks and are underpinned by multi-stakeholder engagement

  • SDG 6.5 calls for IWRM implementation at all levels by 2030. While many governments have made progress in IWRM to advance water security, this has largely been achieved without structured, sustained public-private participation
  • CWS has seen significant growth, but many initiatives lack the scale and scope to fully mitigate business risks at watershed level

As corporate water strategies mature from minimizing impact within companies’ direct operations, to contributing to the sustainability of watersheds where they operate, GWP’s network can provide a neutral and safe space for engaging diverse water-using sectors and constituencies,” said Nicolas Delaunay, Partnership and Resource Mobilization Manager at GWP. “By bringing these voices to the table, GWP facilitates a more integrated view of water policy and governance issues, which gives a clearer line of sight to solutions and progress made (or not made) towards water security."

Read about GWP’s experiences with the private sector: