Corporate WASH Pledge secures access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene for 1.6 million people worldwide

30 companies have now signed the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) WASH Pledge - a business-led initiative that secures access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for all employees at the workplace.

Geneva/New Delhi, 17 August 2015 – Over the next three years, commitments to the Pledge will provide direct benefits to over 1.6 million people and indirect benefits to many more.

One third of the world’s population lacks access to safe sanitation and one in seven does not have access to clean drinking water.

“We are proud of the WASH Pledge signatories, as their actions show that business is driving the momentum for change and having a positive impact on society. I hope that more companies will lead by example and work towards mainstreaming investments in a healthy workforce”, said Peter Bakker, President and CEO of WBCSD.

Access to WASH is a human right and it is also likely to be included in the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals. But it also makes good business sense. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), for every US$1 invested in water and sanitation, US$4.3 is generated from improved productivity, reduced sick days and a more able bodied workforce.

 “There is a clear business case for us to sign the WASH Pledge and implement it in our direct operations” states Michael Alexander, Head of Water, Environment and Agriculture at Diageo. “For us, WASH is an important part of our integrated approach to water stewardship as laid out in our Water Blueprint released earlier this year.”

The WASH Pledge is also helping companies pave the way toward sustainability. Tony Henshaw, CSO at the Aditya Birla Group said, “We’ve already rolled out the Pledge to 184 sites across 36 countries. By doing this, we’re able to show management that we have uniformity in our operations, which lays the groundwork for us to move forward towards a sustainable future.”

But the WASH Pledge goes beyond economic returns and uniform management – it also encourages companies to seriously address WASH as a human rights and development issue. Carlo Galli, Technical and Strategic Advisor for Water Resources at Nestlé spoke about this, “Too much of the world’s population does not have access to safe sanitation. Business can and should pull its weight. The WASH Pledge allows business to contribute concretely to universal access to WASH.”

The WASH Pledge was launched in September 2013 as a business friendly initiative allowing companies to ensure that they provide best practice on WASH at the workplace to their employees. It has since been integrated into signatory companies’ existing internal processes – measuring baselines and addressing potential gaps in corporate WASH action plans.

The 30 signatories of the WASH Pledge include:

Aditya Birla Group, AkzoNobel, Arcadis, BASF, Borealis, CRH India / MyHomeIndustries, Deloitte,  Diageo, Dow, EDF, ERM, Firmenich, Greif, HCC, Intercement, Italcementi, Michelin, MOLGroup, Monsanto, Nestlé, Roche, SABIC, SGS, Solvay, Unilever, UPM, Vedanta Resources and Veolia, as well as state-owned Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), and Mauritian-based SME Archemics. 

To find out more about the WBCSD WASH Pledge, please visit http://www.wbcsd.org/washatworkplace.aspx