Incorporate water considerations into core business strategies and functions
Integrate water management into business strategy
- Incorporate water into business’ risk assessment processes
- Develop comprehensive water policy and strategy
- Set targets for water-related KPIs
- Respond to water risks proactively and systematically
- Raise water awareness within company
Like most corporate sustainability practices, water stewardship is most effective and most valuable when it is systematically integrated into your business strategy, rather than tacked on as a CSR or philanthropy function outside of the business’ core activities. For many businesses, water is such an important input into its operations and those of its suppliers, that a strategy to ensure sufficient and consistent supplies of it is not only helpful, but arguably required for long-term business viability. Having a strategy and policy in places help ensure you have the water and license to operate needed over the long-term.
In practice, integrating water management into business strategy means many things, including (but not limited to):
- Setting water-related performance targets
- Creating accountability measures and incentives for water-related goals among upper management
- Establishing a water task force among upper management to track and address water issues over time and bring them to the board as needed
- Developing water assessment and action policies that are applied across a company’s facilities and operations
A company’s water strategy and policy will certainly differ from company to company. Ultimately, the most effective strategies enable you to understand how your company relates to water; to track changes and trends over time; and to respond in an effective, timely, and coherent manner. The most effective strategies grow from a dynamic understanding of your specific water risks and impacts and are tailored to identify these issues and prioritize them over other water issues that are of lesser importance to your business and stakeholders.
The Ceres Aqua Gauge offers a helpful framework for developing a water strategy, among other things.
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- Make the business case for investing in natural infrastructure, including healthy river basins and wetlands
Developed by: World Business Council for Sustainable Development
The Business Case for Responsible Corporate Adaptation: Strengthening Private Sector and Community Resilience (2015)
- Learn how companies can adapt to climate change through a collection of case examples, including some related to water
Developed by: CDP ND-GAIN OXFAM Rainforest Alliance UNEP DTU Partnerships United Nations Environment Programme United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change United Nations Global Compact
- Quantify the impact of companies’ water use and wastewater discharge on local water resources in terms of quality, quantity, and scarcity/stress.
- Given the technical nature of the tool, use of the WIIX requires some understanding of current conditions and expected changes in quality and quantity use.
Developed by: Veolia Water, Growing Blue
- Evaluate (qualitatively) the maturity of your water management practice and determine how you might expand and improve those practices
- Demonstrate good practice to investors
Developed by: Ceres
- Make cross-media environmental assessments that consider water consumption and pollution in comparison with other environmental impacts
- Implement mature science-based methods for assessing water-related impacts
Developed by: Standards: ISO 14040/ ISO 14044, Water footprint: ISO 14046
- Build knowledge of water-related challenges at the facility-level, especially for companies just beginning to think about water stewardship
- Create basic water management plans at the facility-levels
Developed by: Global Environmental Management Initiative