There is a growing awareness that today’s water-related challenges cannot be successfully solved by any single actor, whether government, business, or civil society. Because of the breadth and nature of the problems, collaboration among the different entities is often deemed necessary to meet water-related challenges.

The CEO Water Mandate’s Guide to Responsible Business Engagement with Water Policy made the case for the concept of shared risk and shared response, which is critical to understanding the impetus for business engagement and interest in water-related collective action. As the Mandate’s Guide to Water-Related to Collective Action notes, “Success in responsible engagement is critically tied to effective collective action among all parties with a stake in sustainable water management at the relevant scale – local, regional, national, or international.” Engagement in collective action becomes critical to addressing shared risks.

When companies come together with other parties to pursue collective action, they recognize that there are significant water-related risks that they cannot tackle individually. At the same time, they recognize the benefits of engaging with others to share expertise and pool resources that are required to meet challenges. The most productive collaborations are often those where the different parties come together with a shared understanding of the problems and objectives, and mutually benefit from working together.

Successful collective action engagements may result in a range of benefits including:

  • Clear articulation of the problem statement and a strong sense of shared ownership and joint responsibility of the issues at hand.
  • More informed decision making, in addition to more durable and well informed actions and outcomes that are owned by the engaged parties.
  • A broader scope and depth of motivation in support of water resource management improvements.
  • An expanded pool of expertise, capacity, and financial resources better focused on fostering change.
  • In many cases, collective action will be the only way to genuinely overcome shared risks with complex institutional causes and social, environmental, and economic consequences.