(New York, 2 December 2008) - The U.S. Network of the UN Global Compact today issued the report of its recently held working conference on "Water in the 21st Century: Managing the Business Risks and Opportunities".
The conference, held on 3 November at UNICEF's offices in New York City, brought together approximately 70 senior representatives from business, finance, civil society, the UN, and academia for discussions on the growing global crisis in water and sanitation.
"Water scarcity and sanitation are becoming increasingly important issues for the business sector", said Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the UN Global Compact. "Population growth, urbanization, and climate change are expected to make matters more and more challenging in the coming years and decades -- posing a range of risks, and some opportunities, for companies".
The conference highlighted the need from companies in all industries to take a comprehensive approach to "water sustainability" through initiatives such as the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate. In addition, the conference stressed the importance of working with civil society organizations. Participants from civil society included WaterAid, Oxfam, WWF, and the Pacific Institute.
This was the fifth working conference of the US Network held during the past two-and-a-half years. Previous conferences included: "Business and Human Rights" (April 2008); "Responsible Procurement" (October 2007); "Managing Climate Change" (April 2007); and "Financial Markets and CSR" (May 2006).
"The U.S. Network has grown significantly in recent years and these issue-oriented conferences provide ideal multi-stakeholder platforms to share best and emerging practices", said Sara Broadbent, Executive Director of Seagate Technology and one of the two corporate managers of the U.S. Network, along with Cecily Joseph, Director of Corporate Responsibility at Symantec Corporation.
"The U.S. Network is a vibrant and dynamic forum, giving companies and other stakeholders an opportunity to focus on pressing and timely sustainability issues", said Ms. Joseph. "We encourage U.S. companies that are not already participating in the UN Global Compact to join the initiative and become active participants in the U.S. Network, and, where relevant, in other UNGC country networks around the world".
Mr Power noted that there are approximately 80 "country networks" of the UN Global Compact, many in developing and emerging markets. In addition to becoming part of the U.S. Network, American companies joining the UN Global Compact have an opportunity to take part in the activities of country networks around the world through their country operations and subsidiaries.
"We are actively encouraging all participants in the UN Global Compact to take advantage of these country networks, which offer significant value in terms of learning, dialogue and partnerships", said Mr Power.
The Secretariat for the U.S. Network is administered by the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University.
UN Global Compact Office