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Invitation: Public Comment on Business Engagement in Water-Related Public Policy

( New York, 07 July 2009 ) – The UN Global Compact Office today announced an invitation for public comment in connection with the development of guidance for corporate engagement in water-related public policy.

Background

In 2007, the UN Secretary-General, in partnership with international business leaders and under the auspices of the UN Global Compact, launched the CEO Water Mandate – an initiative established to better understand and advance water stewardship in the private sector.  Since its inception, the Mandate has held semi-annual multi-stakeholder workshops, focusing to date primarily on one of the initiative’s six core elements.  The Mandate’s 3rd Working Conference - held in Istanbul in March 2009 at the Fifth World Water Forum – was aimed at better understanding the Mandate’s “ Public Policy” element.  At this meeting, in recognition of widespread confusion by companies and stakeholder concern on this topic, the Mandate decided to create a best practice guidance on business engagement with water policy. 

This Guide ultimately aims to provide principles, concepts, practical steps, and case examples that can facilitate companies’ responsible engagement with water policy in a manner that reduces business risks while advancing policy goals and positively impacting nearby communities and ecosystems.  In doing this, the Guide will:

  1. Define and explore components of public water policy and the way businesses interface with them;
  2. Discuss the types of water-related business risks and the way they can be mitigated through policy engagement, while considering the various hydrologic, economic, and political contexts in which businesses operate;
  3. Elucidate the various spheres of engagement, operational dimensions, and entry points for engagement in water policy; and
  4. Identify principles and good practices/approaches while highlighting potential pitfalls to avoid.
The Guide will acknowledge and address key concerns and reservations among some stakeholders regarding corporate involvement with policy decisions, steering companies toward engagement strategies and practices that are integrated, inclusive, and equitable.

Workplan

The CEO Water Mandate Secretariat is now soliciting public comment on a preliminary annotated outline for this guidance document. The purpose of this initial consultation is to help define the scope and focus the Guide’s content through input from a range of interested stakeholders.

The UN Global Compact Office invites the public, stakeholders, and other interested parties to provide input at this initial stage in the Guide’s development, and asks the comments be submitted to PolicyEngagementGuide@pacinst.org by 4 September 2009. Those providing comment should indicate which stakeholder categorization (below) best describes the organization’s (or individual) perspective:

  1. Government
  2. Civil society / NGO
  3. Labour
  4. Academia
  5. Industry
  6. Consultancy
  7. Personal view / No affiliation
Please also identify the organizational (or individual) geographic perspective, using one of the following categories:
 
  1. “Developing” country / Emerging economy / Global South
  2. Industrialized country
  3. Global
  4. Not applicable
Comments received before August 14th will be compiled and presented anonymously to stakeholders and endorsing companies attending the Mandate’s upcoming working conference at World Water Week in Stockholm in August.  These comments will help inform the discussion among endorsing companies and stakeholders regarding the guide and related work. Based on these comments and the outcomes of the Stockholm event, the Mandate Secretariat will begin drafting the body of the Guide, referencing the compiled comments as appropriate. A first full draft of the Guide will be circulated for public comment by the end of 2009. A final version of the Guide incorporating comments received on the prior iteration is scheduled for release by June 2010.

Contact

Gavin Power
Deputy Director
UN Global Compact
powerg@un.org

Jason Morrison
Program Director
Pacific Institute
jmorrison@pacinst.org