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Transformative Issues Virtual Symposium addresses business sustainability

Transformative Issues SymposiumSuccessful businesses -- including water utilities -- recognize that they are increasingly being evaluated on how they manage environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues such as affordability and equitable access. Investors, as well as policy makers, customers and other key stakeholders, use these elements to assess an organization’s sustainability. 

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) is providing a forum in August to discuss the impact of ESGs within the water sector during its 2021 Transformative Issues Virtual Symposium. A series of three, 75-minute online sessions will focus on different ESG-related topics, including:

  • Affordability
  • Equitable access to safe water in North America and globally
  • Strengthening public trust in tap water
  • Communicating effectively with vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations
  • Environmental stewardship through building a resilient and long-term water supply

The first session -- Advancing Affordability and Access -- is Aug. 12, 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. (MT). David LaFrance, AWWA CEO, will moderate a discussion about the challenges of water affordability and access. LaFrance published columns about ESGs and the water sector in the March, April and May 2021 issues of Journal AWWA.

Peter Macy with ROCKBlueOne of the panelists in this session is Peter Macy, president of ROCKBlue, a U.S. nonprofit based in South Africa. AWWA supports ROCKBlue in its mission to improve the lives of the urban poor in the developing world by empowering local utilities to supply water and sanitation.

“According to a 2021 United Nations report, two billion people lacked safely managed water services in 2020,” said Macy (pictured left). “This puts each of these individuals at risk of sickness, death and economic decline. Their families and communities become collaterally impacted as well.

“Collectively, both directly and indirectly, the fate of these individuals negatively impacts the rest of the world,” he added. “Considering the fact that the capture, treatment and distribution of water is actually quite easy, we simply cannot accept these statistics to continue. For the developing world, the area that is difficult, and must be the target of assistance, is one of the ESG criteria -- improved governance for the water service providers.”

The other sessions in the Transformative Issues Virtual Symposium are:

Several core principles in AWWA’s 2025 Strategic Plan address ESG issues, including:

  • Protect public health
  • Safeguard the environment
  • Strengthen public trust
  • Advance diversity and inclusion
  • Advance access to safe water globally