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Karen Lynch Belu in Madagascar
Francoise Saholinirina, known as Madame Holy, with Karen Lynch, CEO of Belu, in her shop which she has built up gradually over time since the arrival of water in the village of Ambatoantrano, Bongolava, Madagascar. Photo: WaterAid/ Sam James.

After a long hot summer, most of us will have been thinking about water when we’ve found ourselves in need of a drink to cool down. World Water Week has been taking place this week in Stockholm. Belu invited Ruth Romer, from our charity partner WaterAid, to talk about how business has a vital role in human development.


World Water Week: business has a vital role in human development

By Ruth Romer, Private Sector Advisor, WaterAid This week will see hundreds of people descend on Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, to discuss the multi-dimensional topic of water. World Water Week is the annual focal point for global water issues and this year the focus is Water, ecosystems and human development. A range of sectors come together to network, exchange ideas and discuss the challenges and opportunities that the management of the world’s limited water resources can present.  

The business case for investing in water, sanitation and hygiene

WaterAid recognises that to drive change and deliver lasting results, we need to work with a wide range of government, civil society and private sector partners. Business and the role that companies can play in driving sustainable solutions and delivering against the Sustainable Development Goals is recognised as an opportunity. World Water Week is an opportunity for collaborative discussions and solutions with companies to drive investment in water, sanitation and hygiene to help support healthy people, planet and profit for the business. A new guide launched on 23 August by WaterAid and championed by Diageo, Gap Inc., and Unilever, Strengthening the business case for water, sanitation and hygiene: How to measure value for your business’, will help to develop a more robust business case for investment in water, sanitation and hygiene. The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a useful framing for these types of conferences. A recent report by the business commission highlighted the potential economic value that can be unlocked from businesses aligning with, and delivering against the Sustainable Development goals, a core message is – ‘better business results in a better world’.  

Belu – a sustainable partnership for WaterAid

It’s also a good time to reflect on business models and partnerships that work well and share learnings and insights. Partnerships that are mutually beneficial and have shared value at the core are often more sustainable and productive. Our partnership with Belu, along with other partnerships with HSBC, Kimberly-Clark, and H&M Foundation (to name just a few) highlight some of these successful mutually beneficial partnership models.

 “It is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or sustainability, but a new way for companies to achieve economic success.”[1]Michael E. Porter and Mark Kramer explore the idea of shared value.

Belu has given 100% of its net profits – over £3 million so far – to WaterAid, reaching over 202,500 people with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene since our partnership began in 2011. By working together, these models provide enhanced brand reputation on both sides as well as brand value. Furthermore, helping partners become leaders in the sustainability space. Belu has won numerous awards for their sustainable business model focusing on an environment-first approach and social impact through our partnership, including The Queens Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development and Best Sustainable Small Business in the Global Good Awards.  

Business has a role to play in creating a more sustainable world

All businesses have a role to play in creating a fairer, more sustainable world benefiting people and planet whilst making a profit. Creating a thriving business whilst also driving social change with improved water, sanitation and hygiene provision at the same time. Clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene are fundamental to the human rights, health and dignity of everyone, everywhere. We need to continue working together to make these basic human rights normal within a generation.   @wateraid #wwweek #WorldWaterWeek   [1] https://www.sharedvalue.org/about-shared-value

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