Private industry is a key actor in the water sector, both at corporate levels and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The IUCN Water programme aims to influence the private sector to address environmental issues and to incorporate ‘the ecosystem approach’ into its strategies and operations. The business community is encouraged to use its capacities to promote and influence change in water management practices.
The IUCN Water Programme works with major water companies through its collaboration with IWA (International Water Association) and the WWC (World Water Council), relating especially to policy and capacity development. In many projects of IUCN’s Water and Nature Initiative, private companies and businesses are involved. Such as in Guatemala, where in the Tacana watershed, small coffee farmers joined municipal councils, dealing directly with the private sector to expand organic coffee production. In the Okavango delta, IUCN engages with private tourism operators, working jointly on socio-economic impacts within the protected RAMSAR site. Also in instances such as tropical storm STAN in Central America, the IUCN water programme worked with Marseille Waters, providing emergency relief and support in the region’s affected areas. Furthermore, the Water programme provides learning support and knowledge sharing to major international private sector companies, such as Nestlé, Coca Cola and Suez, with whom regular contacts have been established.
Future engagement with business will center on further partnership developments for the Water and Nature Initiative. This initiative is scaling up its demonstration sites across the world, linking in with private companies and expanding its activities. The Water programme is also involved in the Water for Schools campaign, focusing on water provision, education and health. This project is receiving significant interest from private business sectors and philanthropic communities. Watershed management and sustainable agriculture; watershed management and energy; as well as Environmental Flows, are further topics of potential collaboration between business and the IUCN Water programme.