Proactive Water Stewardship is Good for Planet and Profit

Have you ever really thought about water? Have you thought about what makes water unique – not just what it means for hydration, but as a human right, an ecological imperative, a resource…a risk? Some of us have, and many have begun sketching solutions along a continuum of issues such as access to water and water quality, quantity, and resource preservation.

When we think about the tapestry of water issues it becomes clear how critically important it is that we address these issues systematically, programmatically and strategically. We’ve learned a lot, not just from ourselves, but from others and it’s time to apply this knowledge.

These thoughts emphasize why I’m so excited to be at Nestlé Waters. Ensuring the sustainability of water and access to water, for generations to come, has been a personal passion of mine for years. Now water and its sustainability for consumers and industry alike can be my principal focus. Even better, I am working with people who share a passion for water, the broader environment, health and community.

On this coming Thursday, June 23rd I’m honored to be making the closing keynote presentation at the Environmental Leader Conference in Denver, Colorado.

In this presentation, I’ll make the case for proactive business strategies that address risk and create opportunity around water. Developing such strategies will be one of the most important things corporations can do in the face of increased water risk. To begin I will present a compendium on the current state of water for a number of industries and the facts corporate and public decision-makers should consider; later we will begin a close look at the water stewardship process.

I’ll make the case for proactive business strategies that address risk and create opportunity around water.

I’m going to present first on common water risks and what they mean from an impact perspective, for economics, for availability, and more. Today we have a good understanding of what’s happening in various industries – whether it be mining, apparel, or agriculture. With that knowledge comes tremendous insight that can directly influence proactive plans to meet our risks and opportunities.

We’ll also take a close look at the shared challenges related to water that many companies and industries face, such as: quality or quantity issues; failure to protect the water source, or political uncertainty. Perhaps companies did not adhere to a key principle with the community that is hosting that water. As a result a business may experience a strained relationship with the local government or increased operating costs.

I will be asking attendees to study these examples and consider ways we can all adapt – how we can enhance and invent tools to help us manage our risks, transition risk into opportunity, engage those who matter most, and make real, genuine progress on all these issues. If we do this it’s really going to change and shape the landscape.

Finally, I will examine the questions corporate leaders should be asking before undertaking water sustainability campaigns. As part of this, I will be introducing a “Water Stewardship Roadmap”.

I remember the first time I stepped into a lake at age seven…the first time I dipped a paddle into the Petawawa River in Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada.

I remember what it was like to make a personal connection with water. I remember the first time I stepped into a lake at age seven and what it felt like on the bottoms of my feet. I remember  I remember that first time.

Do you remember your first time? Your connection to water? I bet you do, and I bet you care about water’s future.

I’ll be discussing these topics and many more over the next few months. Next week we’ll make a release available that captures thoughts from my presentation in Denver.

Here’s the link to the conference.

Let’s make water our purpose!
Nelson Switzer is one of Canada’s sharpest minds at finding opportunities and reducing risks for companies that are striving to operate with a greater commitment to corporate sustainability.  Nelson is the Chief Sustainability Officer with Nestle Waters North America.