The global water crisis is not only impacting communities and ecosystems, it is also creating reputational, physical, and regulatory business risks and causing financial impacts across the private sector (CDP 2020). As a result, more and more companies are seeing the business value in engaging in corporate water stewardship. Corporate water stewardship helps companies understand, identify, and mitigate water-related business risks by recognizing the shared nature of water challenges and working with others to achieve more sustainable management of water resources.
In response to this momentum, there has been an upwelling of guidance and frameworks aimed at helping companies manage risks and minimize negative impacts, and support corporate sustainability practitioners in their water stewardship efforts. Although there is now a variety of frameworks for corporate sustainability practitioners to consult and apply, the recent influx has also created some confusion, mostly on the part of busy practitioners who are struggling to navigate the abundance of guidance available and choose what guidance to use when. This confusion also has the potential to keep companies from focusing on what matters most: driving measurable improvements in watershed health, in priority high stress watersheds, ideally through collective action to achieve impact at scale.
This document aims to help you:
- Understand the importance and value of focusing on measurable impact in watershed health;
- Navigate the wealth of existing water stewardship frameworks, guidance, and best practices; and
- Understand the general process and key considerations to enable companies to deliver measurable watershed outcomes that can help increase the resilience of both companies and communities in the face of emerging water challenges and a changing climate, protect value at risk, and support long-term business continuity.
You can use the information provided in this guide as a starting point or as a way to build on what you have already done. It can also help you identify when and how existing resources can help accelerate your company’s efforts to reduce water-related risks by improving watershed health. Keep in mind that improving watershed health in ways that reduce risk and build resilience will take time, and will require long-term commitments, investments, and action. The water challenges the world is facing didn’t emerge overnight and delivering measurable watershed outcomes won’t happen overnight either. The sooner your company starts taking tangible action—and the more we can all do so collectively—the better.