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How Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can help in Achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

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SDG 6, also known as Clean Water and Sanitation, is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations. The goal aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. In India, access to clean water and sanitation is a significant challenge, with millions of people lacking access to basic services. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can play a critical role in achieving SDG 6 in India. By investing in water and sanitation infrastructure, promoting sustainable water management practices, and supporting community-led initiatives, companies can help create a more sustainable and equitable water and sanitation system.

1. Investing in Water and Sanitation Infrastructure

The lack of access to basic water and sanitation services is a significant challenge in India. In many rural and urban areas, people rely on unsafe sources of water, such as open wells, borewells, or ponds. Moreover, millions of people in India do not have access to basic sanitation facilities, such as toilets, leading to open defecation, which can spread diseases and pollute the environment.
Companies can invest in building infrastructure to improve access to clean water and sanitation. For example, building wells, borewells, hand pumps, and water supply systems can help provide safe drinking water to communities. Companies can also invest in building toilets and handwashing stations, which can improve sanitation and hygiene practices.
One company that is investing in water and sanitation infrastructure is the Tata Group, a conglomerate with interests in various sectors. The Tata Water Mission aims to provide safe drinking water to communities in rural and urban areas across India. The initiative includes building water supply systems, rainwater harvesting, and wastewater treatment facilities. By investing in such infrastructure, the Tata Group is helping to improve access to clean water and sanitation for communities in need.

2. Promoting Sustainable Water Management Practices

Water scarcity is a growing concern in India, with climate change exacerbating the problem. The country is expected to experience more frequent droughts, floods, and extreme weather events, which can affect water availability and quality. Companies can promote sustainable water management practices to help address this challenge. By investing in initiatives such as rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge, and water conservation, companies can help improve the availability and quality of water in communities.
For example, the Hindustan Unilever Foundation, the CSR arm of Hindustan Unilever, has launched the Jal Seva Charitable Trust, which aims to promote sustainable water management in Maharashtra. The initiative includes building check dams, farm ponds, and promoting water conservation and groundwater recharge. By investing in such initiatives, the Hindustan Unilever Foundation is helping to address water scarcity in the region.

3. Supporting Community-Led Initiatives

Community-led initiatives can be more effective in addressing local water and sanitation challenges, as they are more likely to be tailored to the specific needs of the community. Companies can support community-led initiatives that improve access to clean water and sanitation. By investing in initiatives that empower local communities to manage their water and sanitation systems, such as community-led water management committees and self-help groups, companies can help create a more sustainable and equitable water and sanitation system.
The Mahindra Group, a conglomerate with interests in various sectors, has launched the Nanhi Kali initiative, which aims to promote girls’ education and empowerment. The initiative includes building toilets in schools and promoting menstrual hygiene management among adolescent girls. By investing in such initiatives, the Mahindra Group is helping to address the issue of menstrual hygiene, which is critical to improving girls’ education and empowerment.

4. Collaborating with Other Stakeholders

Collaboration is essential to achieving SDG 6. Companies can collaborate with other stakeholders, such as the government, civil society organizations, and local communities, to leverage resources and expertise and achieve greater impact.
For example, the PepsiCo Foundation, the philanthropic arm of PepsiCo, has collaborated with the Safe Water Network and other stakeholders to provide safe drinking water to underserved communities in India. The initiative includes building water ATMs, which are water dispensers that use advanced filtration technology to provide safe drinking water. By collaborating with other stakeholders, the PepsiCo Foundation is helping to improve access to safe drinking water in communities in need.

5. Advocating for Policy Change

Policy change is critical to achieving SDG 6. Companies can advocate for policy change that promotes sustainable water and sanitation practices strengthen regulations and enforcement and support investments in water and sanitation infrastructure.
For example, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), a business association that represents various sectors, has advocated for policies that promote sustainable water management and sanitation practices. The CII has launched the Indian Green Building Council, which aims to promote sustainable building practices, including water and sanitation. By advocating for policies that promote sustainable water and sanitation practices, the CII is helping to create an enabling environment for companies to invest in water and sanitation initiatives.

Conclusion

Achieving SDG 6 is critical to promoting sustainable development in India. Companies can play a critical role in achieving this goal by investing in water and sanitation infrastructure, promoting sustainable water management practices, supporting community-led initiatives, collaborating with other stakeholders, and advocating for policy change. By leveraging their resources and expertise, companies can help create a more sustainable and equitable water and sanitation system, improving the quality of life for millions of people in India.