Engaging businesses in the water environment

Businesses – from farmers and manufacturers to suppliers and retailers – are exposed to the same water challenges as communities and ecosystems: too much or too little water, pollution, and certainty of supply. Because of the scale of these challenges, and as they often result from the way we manage water, the only way we can solve them is to work together. Through WaterLIFE, we have shown the results that can come from partnership working at different scales - catchment, basin and national. View our short film to understand why water should matter to business.

Opportunities for businesses and the environment

By working together to improve the water environment, businesses and other groups such as catchment partnerships can realise and deliver on:


Businesses rely on a healthy freshwater environment to operate. When things go wrong, it is not only bad for the environment – it’s bad for business. The cost of Storm Desmond, which devastated parts of north-west England in December 2015, is estimated to be £500m, some of which will have been a direct cost to businesses.

A healthy environment helps to buffer the impact of events like flooding and drought. Unfortunately, with only 14% of rivers in England classed as healthy (in 2017), there is a lot of work to do. By taking a more holistic view of the catchment, communities, businesses and other users operating within it can work together to enhance the natural environment and experience those benefits.


Throughout WaterLIFE, we have seen the important role that environmental regulation and legislation has played – not only for ecosystems, but for users, like businesses, that rely on the natural capital the environment provides. Regulation sets a level playing field for all businesses to work from. Engaging with water stewardship through catchment partnerships can support businesses to both meet legal obligations – reducing regulatory and operational risks – and also maximise opportunities to improve the environment.


How businesses manage, or are perceived to manage, water issues can pose a threat, but also offer an opportunity, to reputation. By being proactive and becoming water stewards by engaging with the CaBA, businesses have an opportunity to enhance brand and reputation and stand out from the crowd as a more sustainable choice.

How to engage

There are plenty of tools, resources and groups to help encourage and facilitate business involvement in the water environment. Whether your interest is driven from a business or environmental perspective, by working in partnership, opportunities and benefits for all players can be realised.  

In the sections below, you will find tools and resources for businesses wanting to understand how to engage with water stewardship, and for catchment partnerships and other environmental organisations who want to engage with businesses.


Throughout WaterLIFE, we learnt what conditions are needed to achieve our vision of healthy rivers for people and nature. The WaterLIFE Declaration set out three principles to deliver these conditions.  By the end of the project, it was signed by over 100 businesses, government agencies, national NGOs, rivers trusts and catchment partnerships. 


The Catchment-Based Approach website is designed to showcase the work of catchment partnerships aross England and Wales and to encourage the sharing and adoption of best practice in stakeholder-led catchment managment planning, delivery and evaluation.
Email: info@catchmentbasedapproach.org


Get all the latest news from across the CaBA community

waterlife logo.fw