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 the following steps within three years of signing:
- Implementing access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) 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:
Once both steps are complete, an onboarding call must take place and the company will 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.
Note: the page includes only signatories consenting to the public display of their logo