Often referred to as ‘the next carbon’, water is emerging as a major sustainability challenge facing societies globally. Mega-trends such as population growth forecast to reach 9 billion globally by the middle of the century; the resultant increased agricultural demand; and climate change, are among the main drivers of this issue.
The complexity of the water landscape, as well as the interconnectedness of global supply chains and that of consumers of water in any given location, means that a business-as-usual approach to addressing water as a business risk is untenable. Leading companies have recognised this and have already begun to take proactive steps to quantify, map and mitigate their exposure to water-related risks.
Based on a series of interviews and interactions with leading companies and practitioners in this area, Corporate Citizenship has identified six key steps towards addressing the complexities involved in strategically managing direct and indirect water-related risks, and four emerging areas of best practice among companies at the leading-edge of water risk management. These steps toward practically and strategically managing water-related risks are described in detail in this paper and include:
1. Quantifying the direct and indirect water footprint
2. Mapping water risks (direct and indirect)
3. Identifying high priority areas for action
4. Identifying improvement opportunities in high priority areas
5. Establishing a strategic framework
6. Establishing collaborative partnerships.
Corporate Citizenship cite a number of case-study examples of companies in a variety of sectors who have adopted a similar approach to managing water-related risks, including such leading businesses as: Unilever, Puma, Duke Energy, Marriott, Thames Water, SAB Miller, HSBC and Coca-Cola. Additionally, they have identified examples of the emerging best practice trends adopted by these companies, including:
A. Extensive Water Partnerships
B. Water Value-Pricing
C. New Water Metrics and Reporting
D. Net Zero Water Consumption.
Corporate Citizenship conclude that the issue of water sustainability is a touch-point for businesses to begin to collaboratively address the sustainability challenges facing society as a whole. By better understanding the risks and opportunities faced in relation sustainable water use and changing weather patterns, they believe proactive steps can be taken to avert the most negative repercussions of these trends.
For more information please visit www.corporate-citizenship.com
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