The UN Water Conference and water security

Water risk has always been a pressing issue, but it is only now that it is beginning to receive the attention it deserves. With a quarter of the world’s population still lacking access to safe drinking water and half without basic sanitation, it is clear that we need to take action to address this problem. The recent United Nations Water Conference held in New York brought together experts and policymakers to discuss the challenges we face and the steps we need to take to safeguard our water supplies.

The need for collaboration

One of the key outcomes of the conference was the need to move beyond voluntary commitments and towards a more formal global agreement, similar to the 2015 Paris climate agreement and the 2022 Montreal biodiversity pact. This would provide a much-needed framework for countries to work together towards a common goal of achieving water security for all. It is clear that the current approach is not working, and we need to take a more coordinated and systematic approach to this critical issue.

Another important issue that was highlighted during the conference was the need for better data and an international finance mechanism to safeguard water supplies. Without accurate and up-to-date data, it is difficult to identify areas of water stress and allocate resources effectively. An international finance mechanism would provide the necessary funding to implement the required infrastructure and policies to safeguard our water supplies.

Addressing SDG 6

It is worth noting that universal access to clean water and sanitation is one of the sustainable development goals for 2030, but at the current rate, it is unlikely that this goal will be achieved for decades after the target date. 

As Samuel Godfrey, the UN Development Programme’s principal water resources advisor stated, “What’s come out of this is the need to move towards regional goals after 2030.” This is an important step towards achieving water security, as it acknowledges that the challenges we face are complex and require a multifaceted approach. Regional goals would allow countries to work together towards a common goal, taking into account the specific challenges and opportunities of their region.

Key actions to take now

As fund managers and stewardship professionals, there are several actions that can be taken to address the water security challenge. One important action is to engage with portfolio companies to encourage more efficient use of water. This can include advocating for the adoption of water-efficient technologies and practices, such as water recycling and harvesting, as well as supporting the implementation of water management strategies and policies that prioritise water conservation.

Engagement with companies can also involve encouraging better water risk reporting and disclosure, which can help identify and mitigate water-related risks across the value chain. This can include encouraging companies to report on their water usage, wastewater management, and water-related risks and opportunities, as well as to disclose their water-related impacts on local communities and ecosystems.

Another key action that fund managers can take is to invest in companies that are working to address water security challenges. This can include investing in companies that are developing new technologies and solutions to address water scarcity and pollution, as well as those that are focused on water conservation and sustainable water management practices.

In addition, fund managers should consider integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors across their investment decision-making processes. This can involve incorporating water-related risks and opportunities into their investment analysis, as well as engaging with portfolio companies to encourage improved water management practices.

No time like the present

 As Musonda Mumba, the secretary-general for the convention on wetlands, rightly pointed out, “The crisis is everywhere…we have no time.” This crisis requires urgent action, and the key to addressing the challenge is collaboration and coordination across all sectors and stakeholders. Asset managers have an important role to play in advocating for change and supporting the development of solutions that can help safeguard our water supplies for future generations. 

We know it can be challenging to effectively manage and track engagement data across multiple companies and portfolios. This is where SI Engage can help.

SI Engage is a powerful engagement data management tool that streamlines engagement processes, manages engagement data more efficiently, and monitors progress towards key sustainability goals.

With SI Engage, you can easily track and manage engagement activities across your portfolio, including engagement objectives, outcomes, and next steps, as well as monitoring the effectiveness of your engagement efforts over time.  If you are interested in learning more about how SI Engage can help your organisation, get in touch.


Sign up for weekly insights, including SI Engage and industry news