Business and water: good together or better apart? : on the right to water: international documents and a case study on corporate social responsibility

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Laxen, Jenni
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This thesis presents how a right to water is explained and what this right consists of in international documents. Special importance is given to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ General Comment No. 15 on the Right to Water. General Comment No. 15 emphasizes the right to water as a cornerstone for realizing all other human rights. Then transnational corporations’ (TNCs) social responsibility policies are presented, as TNCs are one of the biggest actors on the global market. What TNCs do to respect human rights and if they have any specific responsibilities in a human rights context, is also examined. This thesis also addresses TNCs’ activities and how they have an impact on a social and an environmental level and what obligations they have what concerns the right to water. Are companies obliged to respect water, and if not, what can they voluntarily do through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies to assure that they won’t make it harder for people around the world to have access to clean water. In order to see how companies treat the environment (including water) and social issues through their CSR policies, a case study is conducted. A Finnish company (Metsä-Botnia) with rather good practices was chosen, as there has been much more public discussion about companies that harm the environment. The case study shows that companies that have good CSR policies and still make good profits exist. Finally, current issues and actions concerning water and what we all could do to respect it are discussed.
Second semester University: University of Deusto, Bilbao
corporate responsibility, right to health, right to water, social responsibility, water resources