Water is a fundamental natural resource underpinning much of the NSR economy, particularly agriculture. However, the risks to business from water availability and/or quality either directly or through their own operations or their product supply chain remains a major shared challenge across the NSR. In 2018 World Economic Forum identified water as one of the top 5 risks to growth.
The project aims to address this challenge by enabling the adoption of innovative and sustainable approaches to water management by businesses:
1) within their own operations
2) working collectively with other businesses
3) working with government and wider civil society.
The complexity and geography of today`s product supply chains (particularly food and drink) mean that products consumed in one country can have detrimental impact in another. Although the growing importance of good water stewardship is well recognised by big business as is evidenced by the membership of the CEO water mandate and Alliance for Water Stewardship, it can be difficult for businesses to know how to practically implement sustainable water stewardship practices throughout their supply chains. Particularly when the practices are transnational, require collective action or where the local delivery network is fragmented or focused on a specific issue.
The project will involve working with some of the major retailers and brands, their SME suppliers and local delivery partners (assumed at this stage to be those involved in catchment management) to develop, pilot and share best practice approaches to delivering, mutually beneficial, practical water stewardship measures.
Although complimentary this project is very different from the existing SalFar and WaterCog projects. SalFar focuses on degraded farmland and innovation approaches to saline soils whilst WaterCOG is focusing on the integration and implementation of various water management frameworks at a local level. This project is very different but has the potential to amplify the impact of both SalFar and Water COG by increasing the adoption of the water stewardship principles and improving the means and ease of their delivery throughout supply chains across the North Sea Region.