24 July 2018
Impact Report Makes Business Case for WASH
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The WBCSD’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Pledge Impact Report looks at progress made and lessons learned in the years since the WASH Pledge was first developed.

The report articulates the business case for investing in WASH and describes measures taken by signatories to implement best practices.

17 July 2018: Authored by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Pledge Impact Report articulates the business case for investing in WASH initiatives. The report highlights that every dollar invested in sanitation yields a return of US$5.50, while every dollar invested in the supply of drinking water returns US$2.

The report’s forward by Paul Simpson, CEO of CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project), summarizes 2017 CDP data, which find that, although 71% of companies view tackling water security as a significant opportunity to grow their business, only 49% monitor WASH issues and just 7% have committed to improving WASH access, in line with SDG 6 (the Sustainable Development Goal on clean water and sanitation).

While WBCSD outlines the existence of WASH issues in global governance frameworks, the report makes an economic case for WASH in the workplace. It points out that lost working days due to poor sanitation resulted in nearly US$4 billion in damages to the global economy. The report encourages companies to sign the WASH Pledge, which contains 32 principles on best practices in the workplace. The Pledge, WBCSD notes, directly contributes to the achievements of SDG targets 6.1 and 6.2, on universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water and access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, respectively.

Lost working days due to poor sanitation resulted in nearly US$4 billion in damages to the global economy.

In terms of follow-through on the Pledge, the report finds that three quarters of signatories have a WASH reporting or tracking mechanism. To track progress, a self-assessment tool enables companies to evaluate performance on workplace water supply, sanitation and hygiene to determine whether or not a facility is compliant with the Pledge. Outlining how the WASH Pledge has been implemented within companies, the report notes that responsibility sits primarily within their health and safety departments (41%), followed by sustainability teams (33%).

On lessons learned since the WASH Pledge’s inception, WBCSD notes that more work is needed. The report recommends that visibility be expanded through national and regional industry networks, that sector-specific guidance be developed, particularly in agriculture, construction and transportation, and that the WASH Pledge and signatories align with national and regional policies and priorities on the issue.

A side event convened by the Government of Switzerland and hosted by UN Global Compact in the margins of the 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) highlighted the report and further-discussed the social and economic benefits of private sector investments in WASH. It identified barriers to businesses’ implementing WASH solutions, and explored opportunities for collaboration with government entities. [Publication: WASH Pledge Impact Report: Maximizing the business contribution towards water, sanitation and hygiene] [WASH Pledge Self-assessment Tool for Businesses]

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