New York, NY, United States of America - The Water Resilience Coalition (WRC), an industry-driven, CEO-led initiative convening global companies to address the global water crisis, today announced the launch of the Women + Water Collaborative, a flagship corporate collective action program to improve access to clean water and sanitation in India.
Gap Inc., Cargill, and GSK, in partnership with WaterAid and the Water Resilience Coalition, are launching the initiative to improve health, livelihoods, and climate resilience in water-stressed communities in India, beginning with the Krishna and Godavari basins. The WRC is an initiative of the CEO Water Mandate, a partnership between the UN Global Compact and the Pacific Institute.
This marks the first time that companies from different sectors spanning apparel, biopharma, and agriculture have united with shared goals, metrics, and governance to provide access to clean water and sanitation in the same communities. The Collaborative builds on the success of the previous USAID Gap Inc. Women + Water Alliance, which empowered over 2.4 million people to improve their access to water and sanitation in India between 2017 and 2023. This is one of 21 collective action projects in 15 basins underway across Asia, Africa, South America, and North America as part of the Water Resilience Coalition’s 2030 ambition to build water resilience across 100 Priority Basins.
The Women + Water Collaborative will improve the availability and quality of water in priority river basins through water replenishment and conservation using methods such as rainwater harvesting. It will provide communities with safe drinking water and climate-resilient sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and services. Although women in rural India play a crucial role in water collection and use, their participation in decision-making around water resources remains low. This program will leverage women’s leadership to build water resilience, improve water security, and enable equitable access to water and sanitation for communities at scale.
"As part of the Forward Faster Water Resilience Target and as members of the Water Resilience Coalition, the companies involved in this initiative have joined an alliance that thrives on collaboration and collective action. This cooperation will play a key role in achieving the WRC's ambitious goals outlined in its 2030 strategy," said Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact and Co-Chair of the Water Resilience Coalition.
"The Women + Water Collaborative builds on Gap Inc.’s history of designing innovative programs with nonprofits and the public sector, and then convening corporate partners to drive sustainability at scale,” said Dan Fibiger, Head of Global Sustainability for Gap Inc. “By joining across food, fashion and biopharma, we can drive meaningful impact in communities that fuel our global supply chains.”
“Water is essential for human health, as well as for the ongoing production of our medicines and vaccines,” said Claire Lund, VP Sustainability at GSK. “Yet climate change and nature loss are impacting water and health in locally specific ways – with some countries being more vulnerable. That’s why we are focused on water as part of our commitment to contributing to a nature positive world. We are proud to be a founding partner of the Women + Water Collaborative to improve water quality, quantity, and access in India, in turn helping to support local community health.”
This flagship collective action program demonstrates tangible progress toward the Water Resilience Coalition’s ambition to contribute to water security for 3 billion people and enable equitable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene for more than 300 million people by 2030.
“We know that reliable access to clean water and sanitation is essential for people and agriculture. At Cargill, we are focused on improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation, with the goal of reaching 500,000 people in priority communities by 2030,” said Michelle Grogg, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Cargill. “Partnership and collective action are a critical pathway to help us deliver on this ambition and we’re pleased to be a participating company in the Women + Water Collaborative.”
WaterAid will launch the program in five Indian states and six priority districts.The NGO is keen to bring on additional corporate partners to expand the reach.
“Our impact is limited only by the number of corporate partners we are able to bring on,” says Kelly Parsons, CEO of WaterAid America. “We know that solving the water crisis is a business imperative. We also know that none of the sustainable development goals will be achieved without global collaboration and partnership. By coordinating large, multi-stakeholder partnerships, we create holistic impact, at scale. That's the power of collective action."
Notes to editors:
About the Water Resilience Coalition
The Water Resilience Coalition is an industry-driven, CEO-led initiative of the CEO Water Mandate that aims to elevate the long-term mounting crisis of global water stress to the top of the corporate agenda and to preserve the world’s freshwater resources through collective action in water-stressed basins and ambitious, quantifiable commitments. Since the Coalition’s launch in 2020, 35 global companies across multiple sectors with a combined market cap of US$4.8 trillion and operations in more than 140 countries have joined the effort. For more information, visit ceowatermandate.org/resilience.
About the Pacific Institute
Founded in 1987, the Pacific Institute is a global water think tank that combines science-based thought leadership with active outreach to influence local, national, and international efforts in developing sustainable water policies. From working with Fortune 500 companies to frontline communities, our mission is to create and advance solutions to the world’s most pressing water challenges. Since 2009, the Pacific Institute has also acted as co-secretariat for the CEO Water Mandate, a global commitment platform that mobilizes a critical mass of business leaders to address global water challenges through corporate water stewardship. For more information, visit pacinst.org.
About the UN Global Compact
As a special initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General, the UN Global Compact is a call to companies worldwide to align their operations and strategies with Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Our ambition is to accelerate and scale the global collective impact of business by upholding the Ten Principles and delivering the Sustainable Development Goals through accountable companies and ecosystems that enable change. With more than 18,000 companies and 3,800 non-business signatories based in over 101 countries, and 62 Local Networks, the UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative—one Global Compact uniting business for a better world.