UN Global Compact Water Resilience Coalition Partners With WaterAid to Call for Collective Action on Water Access

UN Global Compact Water Resilience Coalition Partners With WaterAid to Call for Collective Action on Water Access

CEO-led initiative aims to propel access to clean water to top of COVID-19 response agenda.
Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - 11:00am

CAMPAIGN: Sustainable Development Goals

CONTENT: Press Release

UNITED NATIONS, September 23, 2020 /3BL Media/ — The Water Resilience Coalition, an industry-driven, CEO-led initiative of the United Nations Global Compact, has launched “Water is Resilience: A Call for Collective Action on Water Access” in partnership with WaterAid as part of the global response to COVID-19.

The launch took place on Wednesday during the SDG Business Forum, co-convened by the International Chamber of Commerce, UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs and UN Global Compact on the sidelines of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. 

Sanda Ojiambo, UN Global Compact CEO & Executive Director, said: “COVID-19 is one of the greatest challenges of our time. The Water Resilience Coalition, WaterAid and our corporate sector partners see this as a critical moment to raise the issue of access to clean water and hygiene in the battle against COVID-19 and highlight the need to make investments in water access, sanitation and hygiene. This is not just an investment in COVID-19 recovery but an investment in long-term business resilience."

Good hygiene is the first line of defence for combating the spread of COVID-19, yet three billion people do not have access to a handwashing facility with soap and water at home, and 1.4 billion people have no access to handwashing facilities at all.

While the pandemic has had global impact, vulnerability is magnified in communities with fragile healthcare systems and poor water and hygiene facilities. COVID-19 has brought global interdependence to the fore, accelerating the underlying risks to business continuity, including climate change, water security and fragile supply chains.

“Clean water is key to building resilience against two of the biggest crises facing the world today – COVID-19 and climate change – yet nearly 800 million people lack access to this basic human right,” said Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive Officer, WaterAid UK, the international water, sanitation and hygiene organization.

Investment in water, sanitation and hygiene interventions (WASH) is not just an investment in COVID-19 recovery, it is an investment in long-term business resilience.

Resilient companies are built on healthy communities and ecosystems — companies understand water stewardship is not just corporate social responsibility, but an opportunity to secure business continuity.

The climate crisis makes access to clean water even harder: floods are becoming more frequent and more extreme, polluting water sources, while longer droughts mean the wells and springs people rely on are running dry; and rising seas cause increased salinity of groundwater. This, coupled with already weak WASH systems in many developing countries, is leaving billions of people vulnerable to climate and health risks.

Two billion people worldwide already live in water-stressed areas. With no action, by 2050 half the world’s population will live in countries under water stress, with huge impacts on their health and livelihoods.

For companies with supply chains in water-stressed and WASH-vulnerable countries, safeguarding employees and local communities is paramount to both operational and financial security. There is a clear business case for investment in sustainable water solutions that benefit people, planet and, ultimately, commercial success. For every dollar invested in WASH, an estimated US$4.30 is generated in increased productivity.

“This initiative demonstrates clearly how business can play a leading role on the issue of long-term fresh water resiliency — and how rigorous hygiene can dramatically reduce the spread of the virus around the world,” Ms Ojiambo added.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 calls for equitable, sustainable access and management of clean water and sanitation for all. COVID-19 has highlighted the potential for positive impact through private sector leadership in water stewardship — embedding tangible WASH targets in corporate sustainability strategies to deliver long-term business resilience while helping to achieve the critical SDG 6 goals on water access, sanitation, and hygiene.

Water Resilience Coalition

The Water Resilience Coalition, an initiative of the United Nations Global Compact CEO Water Mandate, has partnered with a number of leading global companies to launch the industry-driven the Water Resilience Coalition. The Coalition aims to preserve the world’s freshwater resources through collective action in water-stressed basins and ambitious, quantifiable commitments. Together with the CEO Water Mandate, seven companies spearheaded the Coalition, including AB InBev, Diageo, Dow Inc., Ecolab, Gap Inc., Microsoft and PVH Corp. These co-founding companies – who will serve as Coalition leaders – as well as Coalition members, The Coca-Cola Company, Heineken, Levi Strauss & Co., and Woolworths – have pledged their commitment to collective action and net positive impact, and issued a call to action for other companies to join with them. Read more about the WRC here and join the conversation via #WaterResilience


WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 27 million people with clean water and 27 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

UN Global Compact

As a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact works with companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Launched in 2000, the UN Global Compact guides and supports the global business community in advancing UN goals and values through responsible corporate practices. With more than 10,000 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and 68 Local Networks, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world. Visit https://www.unglobalcompact.org/ for further information. Join the conversation on social media using #UnitingBusiness

Media inquiries and questions:

Please contact David Koch +1 646 668 1435 koch@unglobalcompact.org media@unglobalcompact.org