Understanding the language of business

In our two Water Stewardship catchments (Broadland Rivers and the Cam & Ely Ouse), we are working with businesses and local partners to test and demonstrate how Water Stewardship can improve the water environment.

In early 2016, we commissioned research to better understand the language that engages, inspires and motivates businesses to get involved with Water Stewardship. We spoke to a mixture of business types from the food and drink industry, supermarkets, retail and manufacturing. From these conversations, we have produced four ‘top tips’ for organisations wanting to engage the private sector:

  1. Identify influential businesses and their drivers – Big supermarkets appear to be driving the Water Stewardship agenda and are influential in shaping the behaviour of food producers and growers. NGOs could encourage business engagement by translating the priories of influential businesses into actions in the catchment.
  2. Think global, act local – Businesses value building trusting long-term relationships with local partners, such as The Rivers Trust, as this helps them to think global but act local, and resonate with local communities and issues.
  3. Be ambitious – Many businesses are starting to think about using less water, but with NGO support they could think bigger and engage in Water Stewardship. WWF’s research showed that businesses value a clear and engaging narrative which sets out the problem and businesses role in solving it.
  4. Translate to implementable actions – WWF’s research showed that while there can be buy-in for Water Stewardship from senior business directors, those tasked with ‘doing it’ can be confused about what this means in practice. NGOs could support operational staff with examples of how targets could be achieved on the ground.

You can also download and share our tips for engaging with businesses.