Water scarcity issues pose a serious challenge for businesses in Southeast Asia, and responsible water management efforts remain niche. This briefing argues the need for businesses to develop proper water management strategies as Southeast Asia faces substantial water risks.
Water is the lifeblood of numerous businesses; it is used as a key ingredient and in manufacturing processes to refine, extract and clean essential elements of a product’s life cycle. Inefficient management of water will threaten the continuous supply of clean and usable water, which creates a domino effect on the longevity of a business. In 2018, water-related financial losses due to improper water management amounted to an estimated USD36 billion.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the precariousness of the business landscape; companies will need to remain agile by innovating quickly to survive the tumultuous economic environments across all Southeast Asia markets. Water risks will only worsen the business landscape; companies should take this as an opportunity to commit more strongly to mitigating water risks and implement context-specific measures.
The management of water is a highly technical field that requires more than declaratory statements for collaboration across different sectors. Huge multinational firms, by virtue of their size and resources, should prioritise the development of water-efficient technologies or collaborate with water start-ups that specialise in preventing leakages or filter wastewater properly.
Water stewardship is a collaborative and multi-stakeholder approach to understand complex water issues and implement the appropriate measures to manage water more efficiently. By working closely with government agencies and NGOs, businesses are held more accountable to their targets. In the sustainability-focused climate, this is important and can make or break the long-term growth prospects of a business.
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