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The Business of Water (2016 Corporate Forum)


October 25, 2016


Washington, DC

ELI 2016 Corporate Forum

As climate change alters global weather patterns and the Earth’s population continues to grow and urbanize, water resources are poised to become an ever-increasing catalyst for volatility, even in regions where water scarcity has not historically been an issue. Water law and policy is complex, varying regionally, country by country, and even within national borders. As more stakeholders compete for decreasing - or increasingly stressed water resources, businesses around the world are changing the way they view water within their business model, and policy makers are looking at new levers to ensure responsible use of this increasingly precious resource.

What role does corporate social and environmental responsibility play in ensuring access for all to an adequate supply of clean water? How can communities and non-governmental organizations engage with businesses to advance such access? What can businesses do to gear investments towards sustainable water use, both internally, and in their local communities? Is there yet untapped potential for wastewater reuse? What are the legal and cultural barriers to reuse and how can they be addressed? Is there a place for greater use of market-based approaches in water resource management? What are the ethical implications of increased commoditization of this essential resource? How are competing demands for freshwater being prioritized today and for the years ahead?

ELI's expert panel of business leaders, legal minds, academics, and nongovernmental advocates held an in-depth discussion about the law, policies, and private initiatives that will play important roles in the future of water resource governance.

Alexandra Dunn, Executive Director & General Counsel, Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) & Adjunct Associate Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law (Moderator)
Stewart Leeth, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer, Smithfield Foods
Michael Mahoney, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Chief Environmental Compliance Counsel, Pfizer Inc.
Betsy Otto, Global Water Program, World Resources Institute
Dawn Rittenhouse, Director of Sustainability, DuPont
Vail Thorne, Senior Managing Environmental, Health & Safety Counsel, The Coca-Cola Company

Resources/Materials Submitted by the Panelists:
Aqueduct water assessment tool (World Resources Institute)
Blog on how companies can use water risk assessment information to set corporate water targets (World Resources Institute, 2016)
Climate change and future fold and water shocks (World Resources Institute, 2016)
Water Stewardship & Replenish Report (The Coca-Cola Company)
Investment in Water and Wastewater Infrastructure: An Environmental Justice Challenge, a Governance Solution (NR&E, Winter 2010)
Smithfield Sustainability Program (Smithfield Foods, Inc.)

Of Related Interest:
At the Confluence of the Clean Water Act and Prior Appropriation: The Challenge and Ways Forward (ELI, 2013)
Uncertainty and Risk in Securing Adequate Water Supplies: Challenges and Opportunities (ELI Seminar, March 28, 2012)
Mapping the Energy-Water Policy Landscape (ELI, 2010)