How Water Stewardship Can Help Business Build Climate Resilience

4 Dec 2020 by Staff - Water Diplomat
EDINBURGH, United Kingdom

A new practical guide from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) illustrates steps businesses can take to help maintain profitability and social license to operate in a climate-insecure future. "Rising to Resilience: How Water Stewardship Can Help Business Build Climate Resilience", provides tools that can help businesses prepare for and respond to climate change’s effects on water resources—the primary medium through which climate change impacts are felt.

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Alexis Morgan, global water stewardship lead at WWF and co-author of the guide, told OOSKAnews this week that it can help businesses ensure that investments of both time and resources are worthwhile in the long term.

“It provides a tangible set of steps and actions that people can really grab and put it into practice. It’s not a weighty tome, but something that’s very actionable,” says Morgan.

The guide outlines some key steps for businesses to take, which include: assessing risk and developing a long-term capacity for informed, flexible management; developing a strategy to manage for change, not just persistence; implementing local solutions that are nature-friendly, responsive, and flexible; and monitoring, evaluating, and adaptively managing. WWF produced the guide jointly with The Coca-Cola Company, and Morgan talks about their work together on a water resilience pilot in Guatemala’s Pasabien watershed, in Central America. Through this project, The Coca-Cola Company gathered learnings for the greater Coca-Cola system, reflecting the recommended steps for business action described in the guide. “This project was an excellent example of working with local communities on ensuring upstream areas of the basin were properly managed,” continued Morgan. “It was also a great opportunity to look at how nature plays a role in enhancing the resilience of downstream areas.”

The Coca-Cola Company operates in more than 200 countries and territories throughout the world.

“It is our responsibility to pursue water security in the communities in which we operate,” said Ulrike Sapiro, senior director of water stewardship and sustainable agriculture at The Coca-Cola Company.

“Integrating the principles of climate resilience into our water strategy can help us prepare for the ever-evolving effects of climate change. We hope that by using this guide, businesses will further the connection between water security and climate resilience through collective action,” Sapiro continued. “Water is a shared resource that we all depend on – and we can make a stronger impact when we all work together.”

Morgan believes that 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, will provide a good opportunity to further raise the profile of links between water challenges and climate change.

“For many years, the climate community, for the initial years, has rightly been focused on not making the problem worse. It was about avoiding harming nature and mitigating climate impacts. These will still be required but increasingly people are recognising, through the changes occurring in front of us, that we need to prepare for the impacts [of climate change],” said Morgan.

He also highlighted the need for investors, as well as the business community, to be paying more attention to water issues. “COP26 will provide a good opportunity to continue to raise the profile of these topics. I’m confident that water will be seen as a core part of – not only – climate change, but impacts and resilience as well.”

Bridgette McAdoo, vice president, corporate strategy and engagement, freshwater and food at WWF, added, “All companies depend on water, whether directly or indirectly, and they must be ready to face the shocks and stressors that are sure to come. Business now has the opportunity to bridge the gap between climate and water stewardship strategies, broadening the focus from corporate sustainability to global water security.”