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Use existing umbrella organizations to engage the private sector


Use existing umbrella organizations to engage the private sector

Use existing umbrella organizations to engage the private sector

Posted on August 31, 2021 by Lillian Holmes

Authoring Organizations: CEO Water Mandate
Consulting Organizations: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Universal: No
Applicable Phases: Act
Last Updated May 22, 2024


Sometimes emerging partnerships struggle to engage the private sector. One strategy for private sector outreach is to work with an existing business association, coalition, commitment platform, or other umbrella organizations. These organizations are well situated to identify key business partners, recruit potential champions for a new initiative, and engage the private sector as needed for project work.


  • Umbrella organizations consist of a strong existing network of highly motivated enterprises that may already be engaged in stewardship.
  • An umbrella organization and its members may have existing competencies that will benefit your project.
  • Potential enterprise partners may be more receptive to a proposed initiative that has been vetted by an organization of which they are already a member.


  • Shape the partnership in concert with the association or coalition to benefit from the organization’s expertise and guidance.
  • Look for national organizations active in natural resources stewardship, such as the UN Global Compact Local Network for your region.
  • When communicating with networks of stakeholders, use a communication strategy — as suggested in Natural Resources Risk and Action Framework Tool 23 — to establish clear templates and guidelines for communication.


The Coalición Agua para Colombia is an initiative to improve climate change resilience and water security in Colombian areas by inspiring collective action, promoting better corporate water sustainability practices, and strengthening the water funds to protect the water security of cities. The initiative has many partners spanning the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

When the partnership needed to explore circular water management best practices in Colombia, one partner, the UN Global Compact Local Network Colombia (UNGC Colombia), was well-positioned to administer a survey to its member companies.

UNGC Colombia’s membership consists of more than 500 businesses who have pledged to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals as part of the United Nations Global Compact, a corporate social responsibility initiative. To improve response rate for the survey, UNGC Colombia was able to engage trusted businesses with whom they had a long-standing relationship – whether or not the businesses were affiliated with Coalición Agua para Colombia. UNGC Colombia’s existing relationships broadened the survey’s reach and were key to the success of the survey in informing the work of the Coalición. 

Projects that have validated this Lesson

None found.

This lesson learned reflects the beliefs and experiences of the author, not necessarily the Pacific Institute, CEO Water Mandate, or UN Global Compact.