Washington / Vienna / Nairobi / Stockholm: The Water Communication Consortium, a unique international policy communication and strategy agency with an exclusive focus on global water policy, will make its formal debut at Stockholm’s 2014 World Water Week, to be held August 31-September 5 in the Swedish capital. The Consortium, known as WaterComm, is believed to be the world’s only international policy communication and strategy agency with a 100 percent focus on this crucial sustainable development and security issue.
With offices in Washington, Vienna, and Nairobi, WaterComm addresses a clear, unmet demand among water policy organizations for communication strategies built around a deep understanding of complex water policy issues and the ability to effectively engage the disparate global water stakeholders that influence them. The firm provides innovative strategy, communication, branding, advocacy, knowledge management, risk and crisis communication, and public affairs services.
WaterComm was created in 2013 after founding partners Sören Bauer and Ian Larsen had each spent more than a dozen years providing communication counsel to diverse international policy organizations around the world, many of which worked on water. The firm has spent the year leading up to its debut quietly working with governments, foundations, and international research, policy, and advocacy organizations seeking to increase their influence in the global water policy debate.
“The more time Sören and I individually spent working on these issues with development banks, multilateral organizations, and governments, the more we noticed that despite having comparable depth of knowledge, some groups were exerting extraordinary influence in the international policy community while others had little influence whatsoever,” said Larsen. “The key difference was their approach to communication and stakeholder engagement. The groups that treated communication as a key driver of their strategy thrived, while those that treated communication as a peripheral support skill did not.”
Bauer and Larsen created WaterComm to marry this realization with their strong personal commitments to improving global water outcomes, their subject matter expertise on international water policy, their existing relationships with disparate global stakeholders, and their belief that effective global communication built around substantive, data-driven narratives always lies at the strategic center of affecting policy and behavior change. WaterComm also integrates knowledge management expertise, techniques and approaches in its advisory services, adding value to many organizations’ important work on water challenges and related sectors such as energy, food, and climate change.
“Organizations operating in this space have some of the world’s greatest water knowledge and data sets,” said Bauer. “There is no question that exceptional technical expertise is essential, but technical knowledge alone doesn’t drive policy dialogues, especially on a complex and cross-cutting issue like water, which is strongly related to food production, energy generation and others. Real change only happens when great knowledge is matched with effective communication and knowledge management techniques. These techniques enable planners to identify, formulate, and document development programs that allow for effective consultations that take into account stakeholder needs, attitudes and traditional knowledge. Last but not least, these techniques contribute to organizational learning and efficient knowledge sharing.”
Nairobi-based Sylvia Maina of WaterComm adds, "Robust communication approaches are essential to affect change at both the global and local level. Strategic communication plays an important role in promoting the uptake of innovative technologies and improved practices to ensure access to safe drinking water in Africa."
WaterComm’s partners are among the world’s most experienced and well-connected water communicators. They bring their subject matter expertise and their ability to navigate the complex water policy community to every project.