A Pandemic of Another Kind: Addressing the Issues of Clean Water Scarcity

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Water Scarcity

As the coronavirus pandemic in some form continues to move across the world, health professionals are continually reminding us to exercise good hygiene and keep our hands clean.

Easy enough, if you have access to a clean source of water. However, according to the USA Water Alliance, there are more than three million people presently that are without a dependable source of safe drinking water in the US. Around the world, this is also a bigger issue, as many people lack access to a source of safe drinking water to maintain their hygiene. Ongoing developments to ensure global water security, as well as provisions for wastewater sanitation services to avoid polluting water sources have been slowly adopted. Droughts and water scarcity have become issues that we are dealing with in the US and around the world.

The corporate sector has a chance and a duty to accomplish more than its presently doing to assist in solving these global water issues.

I once acclaimed the decision of global companies moving from a strategy of water management (centered on water reuse within the companies infrastructure) to one of water stewardship (including the usage of water within their supply network, the ecosystem in which they do business, and consumer use of their products). But at this point, it is clear that there needs to be a comprehensive strategy that incorporates both the public sector and private global corporation to address these global water issues.

If we are going to figure out this global water crisis, both global corporations and the public sector need to adopt a more comprehensive water strategy that is created through cross-sector collaboration, innovation, engagement and implementation on public policy.

A reprehensible issue:

The global water crisis is a reprehensible problem. To define it in other ways it:

  • is complex and challenging to clearly define

  • is the source of unforeseen consequences

  • lacks a definite solution across regions

  • requires a change of behavior

  • is not within the duty of any one organization (public or private)

  • is characterized by prolonged policy failure.

The final two points specifically, are where the global corporate sector can and should have an essential role in immensely enhancing water security and resiliency through innovation in technology, public policy, business models, and partnerships.

Cooperating Across Sectors

Various groups have assorted sets of expertise to contribute to finding solutions to this reprehensible issue. Entrepreneurial businessman have agility but not size, while the public sector has size but not agility. Non-governmental organizations, global companies and scholars sit somewhere on this spectrum.

Interlinking these stakeholders together to solve a reprehensible problem is difficult but achievable.

Presently for global businesses, mutual sentiment around water scarcity and water issues in general had typically signified some sort of engagement with NGOs that are centered on conservation within a particular ecosystem. While this is helpful, it does not take advantage of all of the potential of the business sector, such as size, agility of decision making, marketing and communication, innovation, and large manpower. These characteristics of a business can be drawn from to create greater overall business value while also enhancing our ability to try to resolve this reprehensible issue.

An example of this is the global company engaging with smaller innovative companies through partnerships to leverage the strength of the global company to scale sustainable innovative solutions such as unique services, treatment medias, technologies, or bio-organic floccculants to supply clean water. Working with smaller companies, global multinationals can utilize their networks and distribution scale to deliver solutions well beyond its reach and the local ecosystems in which it operates. In scaling sustainable solutions, that would truly benefit its business, clients, workforce, global communities in which its operates, other companies and civil society at large.

Fixing Policy Failure  

Global businesses should also rise to the water scarcity challenge of addressing the systemic policy failure that has led to declarations of “Day Zeros” around the world. To clarify, I am not a proponent for the private sector to assume the role and responsibilities of the public sector. The public sector agencies and organizations, although slow to embrace innovation, have what it takes to scale innovative solutions for substantial productive impact. This has been witnessed in some notable examples across the US.

Alternatively, the private sector should engage with other stakeholders (in addition to NGOs) to develop and foster innovations in technology and policy that the public sector can then adopt and scale accordingly.

There are several examples of this framework of a partnership among private sector, public sector and civil society through the 2030 Water Resource Group (WRG), an initiative of the World Bank.

The WRG focuses upon innovation in technology and public policy globally. In this mission, they are engaged to establish and foster partnerships that support country-level collaboration designed to unite diverse groups with a common interest in closing the gap between a countries clean water supply and demand.

Positioning for Change

The founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab has been quoted indicating, “A company that has a multinational scope of activities not only serves all those stakeholders who are directly engaged, but acts itself as a stakeholder together with governments and civil society of our global future. Corporate global citizenship requires a company to harness its core competencies, its entrepreneurship, skills and relevant resources in collaborative efforts with other companies and stakeholders to improve the state of the world.”

If we are to solve the reprehensible issue of clean water scarcity, every global corporation shall support its core competencies and become a proponent for good governance and upgraded public policies.

Multinational companies should assist in the mobilization of partnerships with entrepreneurial innovative smaller businesses and pursue earnestly changes to public policy through programs such as those of the WRG to ensure sustainable clean water supply and effective wastewater sanitation.

Business as usual will lead to losses in business productivity and literally to the death of people. During times of crisis like these, when proportionate access to safe clean water is critical, we understand more than ever before that we need a comprehensive strategy fostered by both the private sector and public sector to take the steps necessary to meet the reprehensible issue of the lack of a clean water supply by ensuring water security here in the US and across the world.

Global corporations have a unique part to play in solving water problems by working more closely with innovative entrepreneurial minded smaller companies and the public sector along with more traditional parties such as NGO’s to harness and execute strategies to help ameliorate the issues of clean water through a focused sustainable approach.

The time is now.

We look forward to engaging with corporations and public sector partners to assist them in ameliorating the issues of clean water scarcity, to become more sustainable and meet changing regulatory guidelines.

Curious about how GWT  innovative water & wastewater reuse solutions and process optimization services can assist your company or utility in conquering these identified issues?

Contact your water & wastewater treatment technology partners at Genesis Water Technologies today to find out more information at 1-877-267-3699 within the US or you can reach us via email at customersupport@genesiswatertech.com for an  initial consultation to discuss your particular application.