Water Stewardship Commitment
Water is critical for both sustainable development and security, and Finnish water expertise is at a high level. Therefore, water plays an essential role in the implementation of development policy and trade policy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, including in the conduct of foreign and security policy in general.
In Finland, water resources management and transboundary water cooperation are of top quality. Finland has supported sustainable and equitable management of water resources and promoted transboundary water cooperation globally and regionally. The first development cooperation projects in the water sector were launched in Tanzania more than forty years ago, and water remains among the cornerstones of Finland's development policy. Finland's development cooperation has been very effective: in 2015–2018, for example, nearly 2.5 million people got access to water services and nearly 6.5 million people were provided sanitation. Currently, Finland's main development cooperation projects in the water sector are under way in Ethiopia, Kenya and Nepal.
Given the importance and long history of the water sector, it is natural that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs is one of the founding members of the Water Stewardship Commitment. The other members are Aalto University, the Natural Resources Institute Finland, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of the Environment, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and WWF Finland. The Commitment encourages companies to identify risks related to water in their procurement and value chains, to ensure a responsible approach to water in their premises, and to develop sustainable uses and management of water in cooperation with stakeholders both in Finland and globally. The Water Stewardship Commitment was established as part of Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development.
Despite the high level of water resources management and the good condition of waters in Finland, almost half of the Finns’ water footprint comes from abroad. This happens also through agricultural imports from areas where water resources are scarce. Finnish companies’ value chains extend to areas suffering from water scarcity, contamination and management problems. Due to the nature and extent of business activities, companies have a key role and responsibility in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda), including the goal related to water.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs urges companies to make their own commitments and to follow the steps and principles of the Water Stewardship Commitment.