Team Kohler came back from World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, invigorated and inspired by the many individuals and organizations galvanized around the single issue of delivering safe water and sanitation solutions at scale. The water and sanitation crisis continues to have far-reaching implications for people, the planet, and the global economy. There are 2.2 billion people around the world who lack access to safe drinking water, Lakes Mead and Powell in the U.S. are facing the biggest Western drought in history, and an estimated $260 billion is lost globally each year due to lack of basic water and sanitation.
On the ground, the team met with people at the forefront of spearheading action to address water and sanitation challenges and learned about how Kohler can be part of the solution. Here are three key learnings:
- Multiplayer approaches are required: While public-private partnerships are critical, organizations across all sectors must come together and offer their own unique expertise to solve this issue. Effective solutions start with innovation, which is what companies like Kohler bring to the table. However, that is only the start. To scale solutions and create optimal impact, innovation needs to be backed by support from a range of organizations, from tech to government and financing.
- A human-centered design approach is key to innovating effective WaSH solutions: Products designed to solve a specific issue for a specific community must include that community in the design process. There are a surprising number of products in this market that are not designed with the end-consumer in mind. That’s why a human-centered approach is crucial. It is through partnership, knowledge sharing, and collaboration that iterations can be developed effectively to meet community-specific needs and goals.
- For business, safe water and sanitation is about mitigating risk: Lack of water and sanitation impacts business at many levels. Water challenges threaten to halt business operations, disrupt supply chains, raise the cost of materials, and put employees’ health at risk. Now more than ever, stakeholders want to see that businesses are prepared for these risks. Proactive measures around safe water and sanitation act as the first step in risk mitigation.
As the global water crisis continues to impact communities all around the world in unprecedented ways, organizations from across all sectors have a unique and critical part to play in the solution. Here at Kohler, we’ll continue innovating for safe water and sanitation solutions, plus striving for a better planet, better communities, and better lives.