How Could Ethical Business Practices Help Water Issue?

We all know, water is a source of life. Increased awareness and understandings have made us realize, water is also vital for economic wellbeing, running business efficiently and for global sustainability. It is estimated that, three billion people will join the global consumer class over the next two decades. These consumers will become a vital force in running retail machines, generate incomes and make businesses to thrive. How about linking accelerating business activities with the degradation of natural resources, specially with water resources.? Companies will need more and more continuous supply of water to do business activities but, if we continue business as usual, global demand for water will exceed viable resources by 40% by 2030. In World Economic Forum Global Risks report, companies around the globe, regarded water-related issues as one of the top five global risks to business.

How Could Ethical Business Practices Help Water Issue?Companies around the globe find ‘responsible practices’ could be one of the ways to save water for future. Companies in Pakistan have also showed their commitment on water stewardship by aligning their operations. The Coca-Cola Company reported the replenishment of 2.74 billion liters of water through community & watershed projects in Pakistan. GSK Pakistan recycled over 18 million gallons of waste water in previous year. Artistic Milliners, as a Pakistan’s first LEED certified garment factory, recycles 450,000 gallons of water per day, and reuse 50% of treated water. Another example is English Business Manufacturers- EBM which has a strong waste water management policy through which treated process water is reused for horticultural purposes, reducing consumption of fresh water.

Leave no one behind, is the theme of World Water Day 2019. This is a perfect reminder for the private sector to understand the looming water crisis as the biggest threat to the economy, and to resolve, how ethical practices can be helpful in water stewardship, ‘act and inspire’ others by streamline their operations for future trade. The following could be some of the responsible ways which can be adopted by companies to maintain a healthy and competitive edge.

  • To be considered as a ‘water responsible’ champion organization, companies public their commitment in a vision statement by showing targets. For example, “to reduce water use through a 50% improvement in water use efficiency by year 2025”
  • Water stewardships related polices should be included in written standards/ code of conduct. These must be reviewed regularly and companies do not ‘shy’ to include the risky areas popped-up with time
  • Proper compliance mechanism should be placed to do monitoring of the policies and procedures
  • Invest in sustainable water management by; supporting and implementing latest researches
  • Companies must adapt to a new era and work with local communities, government and other sectors to spell-out ‘common and responsible voice’ to safeguard water supplies and reputation
  • Equipping their value chain with available tools to protect water resources in operations
  • Always ‘look around’ to adopt best practices
  • Share the success, by accounting how much of their efforts bring results

Recently, CERB has started SDG Leadership Programme, to show how UN Sustainable Development Goals encourage companies to reduce their negative impacts while enhancing their positive contribution to the sustainable development agenda. This is one of the ways companies can highlight their progress as an industry champion.

Water management and stewardship can be linked with water ethics. With an approach to ‘think beyond the fence’, it is important for companies to establish a mechanism of awareness and education on ethical principles, which would go beyond an employee’s role in business and enable them to think as a part of society, we need more encouraging steps that could lead to responsibility and excellence.


Muhammad Talib Uz Zaman is a Programme Manager- Ethics, Values and Governance at the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business at PBC. His research areas focus on applied and professional ethics, integrity, governance, transparency and anti-corruption practices in business settings. He is the Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional from Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, USA and a graduate of Transparency International School on Integrity, Lithuania. He can be contacted on email ([email protected]) and also found on twitter (@talibuzzaman).