The recent UN report on Summary Progress Update 2021: SDG 6 — water and sanitation for all highlights 46% of the world’s population lacks safely managed sanitation services, 29% lack basic hand washing facilities and 26% lack safely managed drinking water services.
The need for corporate action to help achieve SDG 6 and the material benefits that supports business resilience and sustainability is evident from The business case for action on WASH.
What could business do?
The WASH Pledge for access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is an opportunity for companies to contribute concretely to the implementation of SDG 6, while at the same time ensuring that they provide international best practice on WASH.
By signing the WASH Pledge, companies commit to implementing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene at the workplace at an appropriate level of standard for all employees in all premises, under their control within three years of signature. Under the Pledge, companies also commit to taking action on WASH across their value chain, including among their suppliers, as well as in the communities that surround their workplaces and/or where their workers live.
Why sign the WASH Pledge?
The Pledge allows business to:
- Demonstrate leadership in setting a higher standard for the health and safety of company employees, value chains and communities.
- Generate impact by contributing to the implementation of the SDGs.
- Reap business benefits by investing in a healthier and more productive workforce and strengthening their social license to operate.
- Be connected to peers and partners active in this space through the WASH4Work initiative.
Who developed the Pledge?
The WASH Pledge was developed in 2013 by World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and its member companies in the context of Human Rights to Water and Sanitation recognized in 2010 and the recognition of the importance of closing gaps on access to WASH by the Millennium Development Goals. It was the first ever business-led initiative on access to water, sanitation and hygiene. In 2021, WBCSD re-emphasized the importance of WASH through their Vision 2050 refresh as one of the key areas for business action to ensure 9 billion people are living well within the planetary boundaries by 2050.
The success of the WASH Pledge was recognized by more than 300 signatories signing the Pledge, covering 3 million employees in 170 countries. In 2021, WBCSD will transition the Pledge to WASH4Work to enable signatories to tap the benefits of support they could get from the WASH4Work partner network for implementation of the Pledge and since 2022 all existing WASH Pledge signatories will be directed to the WASH4Work secretariat for any ongoing support or guidance.
By signing the Pledge, a company commits to following within three years of signature:
- implementing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene at an appropriate level of standard for all employees in all premises under their direct control
- supporting partners across their value chains and communities that surround their workplaces or where their workers live.
The requirements of the Pledge are outlined in the WASH Self-Assessment Tool.
A representative in a position to commit their business must:
2) complete our onboarding survey
Only once both steps are complete will the company be recognized as a WASH Pledge signatory.
The WASH Pledge is a non-binding commitment and therefore there is no formal reporting requirement. However, companies are encouraged to communicate their achievements through both internal and external channels and to spread the word to other businesses and stakeholders to act and ensure safe and adequate WASH access. We also strongly recommend that you submit a case study and share your progress with WASH4Work.
WASH Self Assessment Tool
The WASH Pledge Self- Assessment Tool is a facility level excel-based tool that helps companies assess the level of WASH facilities, help identify gaps in comparison to leading international practices as well as evaluate the implementation on yearly basis. It helps companies to measure, set targets and monitor progress based on the compliance score calculated by the tool for each criterion and thus supports decision making regarding investment and priority action.
Once completed, it provides an overall rating for the assessed facility based on each of the categories below:
- Workplace Water Supply
- Workplace Sanitation
- Workplace Hygiene
- Value/Supply Chain WASH
- Community WASH
The self-assessment tool is now available for download in English and Spanish.
For instructions on how to use the tool, please refer to Page 24 on the WASH Pledge: Guiding Principles or the cover tab of the Self-Assessment tool.
WASH Pledge: Guiding principles
This publication includes a set of guiding principles that will support companies in their efforts to implement WASH at the workplace – an essential first step for businesses supporting global objectives related to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. This document also provides guidance and tools to help businesses assess their WASH conditions at the workplace, as well as along its value chain, including suppliers and surrounding workplace and/or worker communities.
This document is available for download in English.
WASH Pledge impact report: Maximizing the business contribution towards water, sanitation and hygiene
This publication provides a business case for companies to implement WASH at the workplace and it also showcases the action that signatories of the WASH at the workplace Pledge have taken to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
The business case for investing in WASH is clear. While every dollar invested returns USD $5 in benefits for sanitation and USD $2 for water, one in every three people still goes without access to safe sanitary facilities and one in every ten does not have access to clean and safe water when needed. The impact potential for WASH investments is immense.
For this reason, 47 companies have committed and are implementing the WASH Pledge, touching over 2.4 million employees in close to 6,000 sites in 170 countries. By signing the WASH Pledge, companies ensure that within three years, all their employees in operations across the globe have access to water and sanitation, and that the company takes an active role in promoting safe hygiene practices at work and beyond. The WASH Pledge Self-assessment tool lays out 32 provisions on what is considered international best practice on WASH at the workplace.
This document is available for download in English.
WASH Pledge Communications Toolkit
The WASH Pledge communications toolkit has been created for signatories of the WASH Pledge.
Please use this communications toolkit to help spread the word about your commitment to invest in a safer, healthier, more productive workforce.
- Use the information provided here as a guidance for your media releases or news alerts.
- Use the sample social media posts to announce your pledge commitment. Please make sure you tag us so that we can share your commitment to ensuring WASH in your business.
- Encourage other businesses or peers to join the commitment by sharing the link to the WASH pledge site.
- You can use the resources provided in the toolkit to be circulated amongst your staff/stakeholders and spread the word.
- We encourage all Pledge signatories to submit a case study after implementing the Pledge in their business. Please refer to the case study template provided in this toolkit for guidance.
Implementation Case Studies
December 2022 – Introduction for WASH Pledge Suppliers
December 2022 – Current Leading Practice on WASH in the Supply Chain
November 2, 2022 – Engagement Webinar for WASH Pledge Suppliers
August 17, 2022 – Engagement Webinar for WASH Pledge Signatories
June 7, 2022 – Engagement Webinar for WASH Pledge Signatories
March 16, 2022 – Engagement Webinar for WASH Pledge Signatories & New Members
June 24, 2020 – WASH4Work Pledge 2.0 Webinar
Note: the page includes only signatories consenting to the public display of their logo