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Guide to Responsible Business Engagement with Water Policy

CEO Water Mandate logo

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. At the Mandate’s 3rd Working Conference, held in Istanbul in March 2009 at the Fifth World Water Forum, Mandate endorsers and key stakeholders held a facilitated dialogue to 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 develop a best practice guidance on business engagement with water policy. This Guide has now been in development since October 2009 in collaboration with WWF - International and the Mandate’s Policy Engagement Working Group.


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 established 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 ways businesses interface with them;

2. Discuss the types of water-related business risks and the way they can be mitigated through policy engagement;

3. Elucidate the various spheres of engagement, operational dimensions, and entry points for engagement at various scales of water policy;

4. Identify principles and good practices/approaches; and

5. Highlight potential pitfalls to avoid.


As part of the CEO Water Mandate Secretariat and as the lead entity developing the Guide, the Pacific Institute opened a public comment period (closed May 12, 2010) to solicit comments from all interested stakeholders on the first full draft of the Guide. The purpose of the public comment period was to better incorporate the array of perspectives and needs into the Guide, as well as to maximize its ability to help advance sustainable water management, and in so doing reduce water-related business risks. The draft of the Guide was also discussed at the Mandate’s 5th Working Conference in New York in April 2010 by Mandate endorsers and key stakeholders. The Mandate Secretariat used these comments to inform the final version of the Guide to Responsible Business Engagement with Water Policy, which was released in November 2010.


Jason Morrison
Program Director
Pacific Institute
jmorrison [at]

Gavin Power
Deputy Director
UN Global Compact
powerg [at]

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Guide to Responsible Business Engagement with Water Policy

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The CEO Water Mandate


UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate Site

Pacific Institute Globalization Program