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State of CSR participation sharpens partnership approach for WaterAid

By Mark Thomas, Corporate Relations Manager, WaterAid

WaterAid received the CSR Top 10 Award in 2017

WaterAid and The Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility – SDG Goal 17 in action!

WaterAid is an international development organisation born out of a socially conscious group of water professionals who felt morally responsible to share their knowledge and resources by providing what we see as basic human rights – access to at least a basic level of safe water and sanitation.

The duty of care and the desire to help create a better, fairer world for all drives our policy, strategy, and organisational culture. The desire to create a fairer world is also a deep driver of WaterAid’s focus on collaboration within and across sectors, thus perfectly aligned with the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility and its vision for “a world where business creates positive social, economic, and environmental value for the benefit of all its stakeholders”.

WaterAid’s business model; providing sustainable solutions and sector-wide knowledge sharing in WASH, along with our unwavering commitment to this through our corporate partnerships, demonstrates a strong commitment to CSR and global sustainability principles.

And, although we ‘feel’ this internally, our participation in the ACCSR’s State of CSR annual survey honed our thinking and strategic approach to better articulate our strengths externally to help us improve  our mutually beneficial corporate partnerships and to  explore  potentially life-giving step change strategies for shared-value across the supply chain.

Attending the recent Australian Water Association’s annual water conference, OzWater, in Sydney and hearing the positive buzz around WaterAid’s inclusion on this year’s CSR Top 10 list reiterated and enforced the importance of us all committing more to CSR. At OzWater, we were approached by numerous people at all levels of business impressed with our efforts and connection to ACCSR and offering their congratulations. I firmly believe our connection with the ACCSR shows a new depth to WaterAid’s partnerships potential for any company integrating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their strategy; the State of CSR report is a terrific endorsement for that.

Pleasingly at OzWater a big focus was on the SDGs and their implementation – moving well beyond the ‘Why’ to the ‘How’ and ‘How quickly’ to ensure we do so by 2030.

I believe this a time of enormous optimism and opportunity. With trust in government eroding, business has a terrific opportunity to show leadership, as it is doing, across industries and issues. The SDGs are helping many to understand the role business can and must play in CSR/sustainability (in partnership with the third sector). At the same time, the SDGs challenge us all to work collaboratively and creatively for a more equitable world within the boundaries of the planet.

“ACCSR helps organisations create lasting value through responsible business strategies and productive stakeholder relationships.” What better reason would business need to reach out as WaterAid has done and learn from the ACCSR’s research and expertise?

For those interested in learning more about WaterAid, beyond our traditional work on WASH in rural communities, we are currently concentrating on the following areas:

  • Equity and inclusion, with a particular emphasis on gender and disability-inclusive WASH. We also have a growing body of knowledge on menstrual hygiene management that cuts across our commitment to integrating WASH into other sectors, particularly health and education, and working on strengthening hygiene behaviours.
  • Integrating WASH in health, with a particular emphasis on WASH in Health Care Facilities and nutrition-sensitive WASH. WaterAid Australia leads the global collaboration with the World Health Organisation on WASH in Health Care Facilities.
  • Supporting sustainable services through implementation of sector strengthening approaches, including trialling and analysing new approaches to sector monitoring: by analysis of approaches to data collection in Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and the Solomon Islands through a partnership with mWater.
  • Climate resilience WASH and water security issues through collaborating on research and policy and advocacy.

And across all these thematic areas are our partnerships – developing and integrating the SDGs into all our partnership plans.

Pictured at the Melbourne launch of the 9th Annual Review of the State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand is WaterAid CEO Rosie Wheen (centre) flanked by Matt Brennan (Transurban) and Karen Iles (Tata Consultancy Services)

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