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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Wastewater Zero

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (
Non-governmental organization (NGO)
    The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) launched the "Wastewater Zero" initiative in 2020 to raise the business sector ambition on SDG 6.3. The initiative aims to reduce the impact of industrial wastewater (quantitative, qualitative and GHG) by bringing companies on a journey from compliance to impact driven actions. It is based on 3 pillars: 1/ A light weight commitment based on existing standards and frameworks and using CDP reporting (timeline progression: own facilities compliance; tier 1 suppliers compliance; science-based evaluation of impacts to drive collective action at watershed scale) 2/ A tool to prioritize the sites where action is most impactful. The Wastewater Impact Assessment Tool (WIAT) is available in test version. This tool is being improved for a launch in Q1 2023. WIAT is a facility scale water quality tool that provides a global overview on the level of impacts of the corporation’s own facilities and pressure context of its suppliers. 3/ An impact assessment guide (under development in alignment with the Science Based Targets for Nature - freshwater methodology) These three components support businesses in the following 4 steps: Commit, asses, transform, and disclose. It builds on the existing disclosure mechanism by CDP, and complements other existing initiatives in the sector, such as the AWS standard.
    Expected Impact
    Businesses together have a direct impact on more than 70% of the water pollution and use. Consequently, the containment of discharges, planned or unplanned, authorized or not, is a must, not only for environmental protection but also for business continuity, globally. This action framework aims to significantly increase business actions towards meeting SDG6.3.

    Companies: H&M ; UPL ; Chevron

    Other NGOs: CDP ; UN-Habitat

    Additional information
    We are in the discussion with more multi-national companies and targeting to have a few more commit at the time of the UN 2023 conference.

    Goal 6

    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

    Goal 6


    By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all


    Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services


    By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations


    Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water


    By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally


    Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flows safely treated


    Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality


    By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

    Change in water-use efficiency over time


    Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources


    By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate


    Degree of integrated water resources management 


    Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation


    By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

    Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time


    By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

    Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan


    Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management


    Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management

    Name Description
    5 Multi-national companies committed to impact driven actions to meet SDG 6.3 in their own facilities and supply chains
    10 Multi-national companies using the wastewater impact assessment tool to shape their actions towards SDG 6.3
    By 2030 most food and beverage, manufacturing, and textile companies implement impact driven actions with a watershed approach
    Financing (in USD)
    further financial support of the initiative would enable to develop the Wastewater Impact Assessment Tool into a watershed scale science based target setting tool
    In-kind contribution
    Further dissemination of the initiative and in particular of the Wastewater Impact Assessment Tool could be supported by the UN platform
    No progress reports have been submitted. Please sign in and click here to submit one.
    Action Network
    water logo
    01 June 2020 (start date)
    01 June 2030 (date of completion)
    World Business Council for Sustainable Development
    1. Africa
    2. Europe
    3. Asia and Pacific
    4. North America
    5. Latin America and the Caribbean
    6. West Asia
    Other beneficiaries

    Water using companies (WBCSD members and beyond) ; all water users within watersheds in which these companies have facilities

    Ibero-American Network of Life Cycle Assesment
    United States of America
    United States of America
    Contact Information

    Tom, Senior Director, Nature Action & Member of the WBCSD Extended Leadership Group