Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Global Water Challenge: A Discussion of Solutions

Last week the Chamber of Commerce held a forum in Washington DC on water and corporate social responsibility. Good attendance, good speakers, good focus on 'best practices" in corporate/nonprofit partnerships. Encouragingly the event focused not just on the gravity of the problem, but on the solutions, and particularly the corporate sector's small but meaningful role (if done right) in those solutions.

Corporations aren't the end game when it comes to solving the global water and sanitation challenge, but they can be part of the game if partnerships are designed well.

Here is the Chamber's write-up of the event.

The Global Water Challenge: A Discussion of Solutions

February 25th, 2010

On Friday, Feb. 19th BCLC launched its 2010 Global Corporate Citizenship Issue Series with a forum dedicated to water and sanitation challenges (audio recording and photos available online).

Water scarcity, lack of clean water, and sanitation problems plague communities all over world, even in the United States. Take a look at these statistics (source: ONE Campaign):

- 2.5 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation; 884 million people do not have access to clean water.
- Every $1 spent on water and sanitation generates $8 worth of saved time, increased productivity and reduced health care costs.
- 4,100 children die each day from severe diarrhea, which is spread through poor sanitation and hygiene.

Forum keynote speaker Ambassador Hattie Babbitt emphasized that long-term partnership solutions are critical to the water challenges we face today. She also discussed how water plays such a vital role in addressing food security, economic development, and health (topics the GCC series will cover later in 2010).

Featured during the forum were global water partnerships between Dow Chemical and Global Water Challenge; ITT Corporation and Mercy Corps; and Diageo and CHF International.

The following suggestions for how to create and implement water programs resulted from panelists and audience members sharing their experiences and practices:

  • Programs should be demand driven and meet the local needs
  • Programs should cater to the local culture, especially as it pertains to girls and women.
  • Programs should create an enabling environment for local residents
  • Scalability is essential to program design
  • Partnership programs should have a systems approach

It’s important to recognize that many people simply don’t know about the challenges faced in the water sector, so raising awareness is just as critical. Two campaigns aimed at raising awareness are the DOW Live Earth Run on April 18 and World Water Day March 22.


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