This week, the UN announced that 45 multinational companies—responsible for everything from jeans to soft drinks—have signed on to the organization’s Global Compact for improved water resource management practices. According to a statement issued by the UN, this compact is considered “the world’s biggest organization backing sustainability measures.”
“Water is a critical issue,” Deputy Director of the UN Global Gavin Power is quoted as saying in Bloomberg Businessweek. “Most companies are doing nothing about it. This is a market failure.”
As part of the compact, the 45 companies agree to work “more actively with governments and public authorities in responsible and transparent ways to help solve the global water crisis.” According to UN statements regarding the compact, because of the fundamental role water plays in agriculture and industry, it’s imperative that the world’s leading manufacturers commit to advanced corporate water management.
Some of the efforts already underway include efforts by Levi Strauss to encourage the cotton growers who supply the company with material for its trademark jeans to irrigate more efficiently. The Coca-Cola Company has already seen returns on its own water efficiency practices—reducing the amount of water needed to produce 1 liter of its product by 13% last year.
The announcement was made in conjunction with the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, a four-day forum with participants from a wide variety of backgrounds and interests including executives, civil society leaders, and investors. The purpose of the forum was to develop a range of new programs designed to attack global issues involving energy, water, food, and human rights. The hope is that the same assets that allow the private sector to succeed can be applied to resource management and sustainable development.
“The scale of the water problem is so big that governments can’t solve it alone,” says Power. “They need the help of the private sector.”
You can watch a video presentation on the compact from the Rio+20 forum here:
For more on the RIO+20 Conference, go here.