The Rise of Corporate Water Stewardship

Part of the Water Governance - Concepts, Methods, and Practice book series (WGCMP)


This chapter explores the incentives for different types of actors to advocate corporate water stewardship, and provides an overview of how it has developed since its inception. It finds that there are potential tensions when different actors collaborate under the banner of ‘stewardship’ since different actors conceptualise water problems in distinctive ways. The chapter starts with presenting the corporate perspective and examines how companies conceptualise the water issue and what motivates them to engage. It finds that for companies, the water crisis constitutes a material business risk. However, the risk alone does not explain why companies engage; companies are also incentivised to act because of the business opportunity it can pose, the widening of what constitute as ‘water engagement’, and the pressure from stakeholders and investors to act. The latter part of the chapter turns to examine the water crisis from the perspective of NGOs and finds that for these actors, the water crisis constitutes an environmental or social risk. Despite having a fundamentally different starting point than that of companies, the evidence presented in this chapter suggests that NGOs collaborate with companies to obtain financial and political leverage. The last part of the chapter analyses the evolution of corporate water stewardship, and finds that the concept has been heavily promoted by NGOs, with the purpose of incentivising more companies to engage.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography & Sustainable DevelopmentUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK

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