Top visiting United Nations official yesterday stressed the need for multi stakeholder collaboration in Sri Lanka to ensure water security while advancing the public interest on it. With the UN having conceptualised the ‘CEO Water Mandate’, which is a call for action by the business community to do more to address the worsening global water challenges, UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate Head Jason Morrison stressed the need for greater dialogue between the public and private sector to drive the uptake of corporate stewardship in Sri Lanka. “Companies need to think of water management that aligns with the public policy priorities.
We believe that the emerging framework under the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG) is a good way to communicate with the public sector,” said Morrison to Mirror Business in a brief interview. The SDG 6 calls for the availability and sustainable management of water for all and offers unique opportunities for the private sector to demonstrate how their CWS practices can support the achievement of the goal.
While the dialogue on the CEO Water Mandate has just kicked off in the island nation, the UN head stated that the local corporate, recognizing water as an important issue is itself positive and a good starting point.
However, he said the agency has yet to find out if the business community is willing to engage the public sector and lay out the next course of action to fulfill the mandate.
It was pointed out that in other nations, such as India, keen interest has been expressed in bringing the relevant authorities and the private sector on to one platform.
“We have yet to see if Sri Lanka is ready for that king of dialogue. The reach has to be both ways. Companies can’t mitigate the risks around water management unless the public sector is involved. If the water is mismanaged at the basin level, it doesn’t matter what measure or strategies are taken, the risk will continue to prevail,” asserted Morison.
Risks identified by local corporates were water scarcity due to inadequate infrastructure, lack of resilient water strategy, low water quality, and the lack of proper regulatory framework for management.
Morrison advised Sri Lanka should act now and not wait for a disaster to strike to come out with a solution for water crisis.
“Sri Lanka should avoid waiting for a drought to come out with solution. This is a global phenomenon. You have more potential to have a more collaborative solution with key stakeholders on the wet years and plan for the dry years. For this there should be leadership from both, the private sector and the public sector. It is about leading by action,” stated Morrison.
The CEO Water Mandate, established in 2007, has been committed to mobilizing business leaders to address global water challenges.
In Sri Lanka the Mandate and GC Network Sri Lanka will look to promote corporate water stewardship and its associated elements with a view toward addressing Sri Lanka’s identified water challenges. (SAA)