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The Latest Corporate Social Responsible News: Saving Water

Submitted by: CSRwire Weekly News Alert

Categories: Events, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Mar 24, 2009 – 11:59 PM EST


The role of business, investment, and media in solving global water crises.

Mar. 24 /CSRwire/ - - March 24, 2009 - Water fascinates us with its shape-shifting dance between solid, liquid, and gas. Water sustains life, but too much (melting ice leads to rising sea levels) can flood us, and too little (drought and aquifer depletion) can strangle us with thirst. Worldwide, we are realizing we must learn to dance more gracefully with our beloved partner, water.

That we are rising to this challenge is evidenced by the proliferation of events, forums, reports, and the like addressing interrelated water crises. Sunday marked United Nations World Water Day, and marked the end of the Fifth World Water Forum (and the Alternative Water Forum) in Istanbul. There, business asserted its "mandate" for helping address water dilemmas (with a nod to the UN Global Compact), and activists "challenged corporate hypocrisy" (with a nod to Corporate Accountability International.) Between these poles flows a broad spectrum of actions to deal with water problems.

IBM's Big Green Innovations team released its Global Innovation Outlook (GIO) report on water that collated findings from brainstorming sessions with scientists, academics, businesses, and governments around the world. The study identified a gap between businesses’ intention to manage water (admirable) with its actual systems and capacity to do so (lacking), as well as a gap in data on water management. Dow, which participated in GIO sessions, documented the progress and challenges of Dow Water Solutions to meet the company's 2015 Sustainability Goals -- such as driving a 35 percent reduction in the cost of water reuse and desalination through improved technology.

Swiss Re is driving progress through its International ReSource Award for sustainable watershed management. In Istanbul, the company gave its top prize to a project in the rural Kahmard district of central Afghanistan where the Swiss NGO Helvetas is helping reduce damage from the necessary irrigation and flash floods through holistic watershed management such as re-vegetation.

Australia's 12-year drought provides a litmus test for the viability of water solutions. Circle of Blue, a media company focused on water, launched a new web-based platform called Idea Central to gather solutions to Australia's toughest dilemma -- the Murray-Darling Basin, the epicenter of the crisis -- from experts and everyday people the world over. Providing background of the problems is the Circle of Blue report, The Biggest Dry.

Water – and the economic questions surrounding it -- will continue to be a focal issue into the future, with Stockholm hosting the annual World Water Week in August. In April, Zurich will host the Blue, Green, and Gold Conference on the Future of Water, Finance, and the Environment, with Al Gore keynoting. There, the Sustainable Water Alliance will host a workshop that poses the question it is exploring all this year, "Can social provision of water be a business?" The Alliance is neutral on the issue of water privatization -- what matters more is "that there is money to invest in water, and the service is delivered at the lowest possible cost."

By CSRwire Contributing Writer Bill Baue

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