Skip to main content
main-content

Über dieses Buch

This book provides a comprehensive assessment of how local corporate water strategies influence global water governance objectives. In various geographies, companies spearhead a quest for more sustainable water management within and beyond their own operations. This book critically examines such strategies and provides an overarching analysis of the effects that mounting corporate involvement has had on the global water discourse.

More specifically, it explains why companies from the food, beverage, textile, and mining sectors have started to incorporate water management objectives into their business strategies, how companies work in partnerships with other stakeholders to realize these objectives, and how these actions acquire wider political legitimacy. It presents insightful interview material from business leaders and other high-level stakeholders.

Readers will gain the necessary knowledge to develop a critical view and respond appropriately.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introducing Corporate Water Stewardship in the Context of Global Water Governance

Abstract
Water has become a material business risk. Using this fact as a springboard to leap into a discussion around corporate water engagement, this introductory chapter sets out the basic ideas around Corporate Water Stewardship: A term embodying a range of different actions taken by corporate water users to mitigate water risks and enhance collective water security. The chapter places these activities in the broader context of a global water governance regime and suggests that despite a rapid proliferation of corporate interest in water issues, corporate water stewardship has received limited scholarly attention. As a result, the effects of corporate activities and decisions are, as yet, insufficiently understood. This chapter sets out the objective of the book to address this gap by providing an in-depth empirical and conceptual analysis of why companies engage with water issues, how they engage, and the effect their actions have on the norms and practices promoted by the global water governance system. Using these three questions to structure the book in its three parts – Incorporation, Involvement, and Influence – the final part of this introductory chapter provides an overview of the book’s methodological approach, and the subsequent chapters.
Thérèse Rudebeck

Incorporation

Frontmatter

Chapter 2. Understanding the Enabling Environment

Abstract
This chapter explores the emergence of corporate water stewardship. It puts forth the argument that it can be understood as an outcome of two wide trends: (a) the growing discontent with state-mandated water resources management, and (b) the concurrent renegotiation of businesses’ role in society. This conclusion is drawn through a comprehensive literature review of conventional water management practices, and the criticisms to which they have been subjected. Through these critiques, the rationale emerges for opening a debate on the renegotiation at the global level of the position of businesses, introducing this sector as stakeholders in water governance. Intrinsically linked to this is the co-propagation of the use of market mechanisms to rectify societal and environmental problems. Consequently, this chapter will also analyse the emergence of market environmentalism and argue that it is through corporate water stewardship that this trend has materialised within the water sector. Furthermore, the chapter sets up the framework to theorise corporate participation in global governance, understand how it operates, and explain how new ideas are generated and established in the political context.
Thérèse Rudebeck

Chapter 3. The Rise of Corporate Water Stewardship

Abstract
This chapter explores the incentives for different types of actors to advocate corporate water stewardship, and provides an overview of how it has developed since its inception. It finds that there are potential tensions when different actors collaborate under the banner of ‘stewardship’ since different actors conceptualise water problems in distinctive ways. The chapter starts with presenting the corporate perspective and examines how companies conceptualise the water issue and what motivates them to engage. It finds that for companies, the water crisis constitutes a material business risk. However, the risk alone does not explain why companies engage; companies are also incentivised to act because of the business opportunity it can pose, the widening of what constitute as ‘water engagement’, and the pressure from stakeholders and investors to act. The latter part of the chapter turns to examine the water crisis from the perspective of NGOs and finds that for these actors, the water crisis constitutes an environmental or social risk. Despite having a fundamentally different starting point than that of companies, the evidence presented in this chapter suggests that NGOs collaborate with companies to obtain financial and political leverage. The last part of the chapter analyses the evolution of corporate water stewardship, and finds that the concept has been heavily promoted by NGOs, with the purpose of incentivising more companies to engage.
Thérèse Rudebeck

Involvement

Frontmatter

Chapter 4. Companies and Water Resources Management

Abstract
This chapter examines CWS in the context of water resources management. It finds that companies that engage in these activities are driven by ‘enlightened self-interest’: the realisation that engagement will contribute positively to business continuity. However, the discussion also illustrates that although the underlying driver for all companies may be the same, the actions taken will differ across, and even within, sectors. Shifting away from the idea of ‘the private sector’ as one homogeneous entity, the chapter takes a closer look at companies representing the food and beverage sector, the textile and apparel sector, and the mining and metals sector, and studies their approach to stewardship. Each sector’s water use, water risk, and subsequent stewardship response is reviewed. Analysing why there are sectoral divergences, the chapter finds that a company’s approach to CWS depends upon where its water risk is located (and its consequent mitigation capacity), as well as the nature of its water use (water consumption vs. water withdrawal). When exploring why certain companies within these sectors move further in their water engagement than others, the chapter finds that not only risk, but also impact is a critical factor, as well as the company’s capacity and knowledge.
Thérèse Rudebeck

Chapter 5. Companies and Water Sanitation and Hygiene

Abstract
This chapter examines CWS in the context of WASH. It puts forth the argument that companies’ engagement in WASH differs from their engagement in water resources management because it is driven by utilisation of opportunities as well as risk mitigation. More specifically, although companies’ engagement is still in its infancy, the chapter shows that there are early signs that companies will engage when they can align engagement with alleviating a risk, utilising an opportunity, or reducing inefficiency. To make this argument, the chapter first revisits the ‘business-society relationship’, and assesses how a redefined role for companies as ‘development agents’ has allowed them to take action on issues like WASH. It then analyses the rationale for integrating WASH into the CWS agenda and assesses how various companies take action. Finally, it questions the assumption that companies’ engagements in WASH lead to win-win outcomes for business and society. Critically, the findings suggest that the evidence points to a need for caution in assuming mutual public and private benefits.
Thérèse Rudebeck

Influence

Frontmatter

Chapter 6. Corporate Legitimacy in Collective Action

Abstract
Recognising that win-win outcomes in collective action is not a given, the question of how companies legitimise their involvement in CWS becomes central. This chapter takes up this challenge and explores how corporations establish themselves as legitimate actors in the water sector. Arguing that the legitimation process is of relational nature, the chapter shows that the process of gaining legitimacy is both about an actor gaining tacit recognition, but also about the active process of gaining that recognition. Because companies are non-elected entities, they cannot draw upon conventional forms of democratic legitimacy, as an elected government may. The chapter shows that as a result, they invoke alternative sources of authority: source-based, process-based, and outcome-based legitimacy to justify their involvement in collective action. The discussion also reveals that companies’ utilisation of these concepts should not be accepted uncritically. Whilst companies – like other stakeholders – have a right to have their voice heard, checks and balances need to be in place to ensure that an initiative’s objectives, processes, and outcomes reflect a balanced perspective.
Thérèse Rudebeck

Chapter 7. Corporations and the Shaping of the Global Water Agenda

Abstract
This chapter explores how a paradigm of CWS affects GWG. It presents the importance of understanding GWG as a constraining, as well as a constructed network. Recognising that those within the network generate the structure provides a powerful roadmap for producing change. However, the chapter also shows that within the context of GWG, the key factor that determines whether an actor has the capacity to influence the discussion is the amount of resource at the actor’s disposal. Companies’ often extensive resources place them at a considerable advantage and mean that the ‘playing field’ is by no means a level one. Thus, the key finding to emerge from this chapter is that with companies’ overriding capacities to convey their ‘story’, the direction of the global water discourse has been altered as a direct result of their inclusion into GWG. The argument is made by firstly revisiting the topic of GWG to show how actors come together to advance the ideas that constitute this structure. It then analyses specifically what ‘story’ companies tell about CWS, and assesses the extent to which this story has influenced the global water discourse. The analysis of companies’ ‘stories’ shows that their framing of market environmentalism – a doctrine resting on the possible alignment of environmental and economic objectives – as the solution to the water crisis perpetuates the use of particular strategies. This, in turn, legitimises particular approaches to water governance: the commercialisation of management, the economic valuation of water risk, and the liberalisation of governance.
Thérèse Rudebeck

Chapter 8. Imagining Pathways Forward: Corporate Water Stewardship and the Future of Global Water Governance

Abstract
Collaborating with companies is associated with opportunities as well as challenges. This final chapter starts by reviewing a few stories displaying examples of the promising work done by companies in concert with other stakeholders. Examples are given from the food and beverage sector, the textile and apparel sector, as well as the metals and mining sector. Collectively, these stories demonstrate the benefit that corporate involvement may bring to addressing water challenges. The chapter then reviews the evidence for advocating cautiousness in relying too heavily on companies to ensure collective water security. Specifically, the implications of the inherent nature of business, as well as power imbalances between companies and other actors are highlighted. However, despite not being an easy route, the chapter argues that engaging with companies is the only way forward if collective water security is to be ensured. It is therefore of imperative importance to find ways to navigate around the challenges and capitalise on the benefits. The chapter therefore ends with some reflections upon how to ensure that the actions companies take in the name of CWS can help shape a global water governance agenda that serves the public good rather than simply contributing to private profit.
Thérèse Rudebeck

Backmatter

Weitere Informationen