World Resource Institute’s (WRI) Aqueduct Tool is a publicly-available online global database of local-level water risk indicators and a global standard for measuring and reporting geographic water risk. It aims to inform public-private engagement on sustainable water management, facilitate smarter public and private investments on water technologies and infrastructure, and allow investors to better respond to differences in company exposure and response to water risk.

The tool’s framework for assessing water risk is comprised of three primary measures: 1) access and growth constraints, 2) cost risks, and 3) disruption potential.

Its water risk assessment looks not only at water supply issues, but also those related to water quality, potential regulatory pressure, governance, climate change impacts, and socio-economic dynamics, while tracking the distribution of population, industry, and irrigated agriculture.

Aqueduct consists of four primary components:

  • The Water Risk Atlas: The Water Risk Atlas includes the majority of the tool’s water data and mapping functions.
  • The Water Risk Collector: The Water Risk Collector will allow for the continuous, decentralized updating and improvement of the Water Risk Atlas over time.
  • The Water Risk Reporter: The Water Risk Reporter will serve as a standardized framework for companies to measure and report on their exposure to water risk, both at a facility level and at an aggregated corporate level.
  • Water Risk News: Water Risk News will systematically scan the Internet and other repositories of water risk news articles and analyze, geo-code, time-code, and risk-code these articles and make them easily accessible to the user by clicking directly on the Aqueduct maps.

Aqueduct will soon provide global maps of baseline water stress (2000) and long term change in water stress (2025, 2050 and 2095). In addition, it has already extensively mapped water risk in the Yellow River Basin, and plans to do so for the Yangtze, Murray Darling, Orange-Vaal, and Colorado River basins in 2011, and more in 2012 and beyond.

 

Application

WRI Aqueduct

General Strengths
  • Provides robust and granular measure of local water risk
  • Assesses water risk based on several measures in addition to physical water availability
General Weaknesses
  • “Deep-dive” river basin assessments are currently only available for the Yellow River, and will only expand to nine other basins in the near future.

 

Assessing Water-Related Business Risks
  • Emphasizes place-based water metrics that contextualize company water use and that serve as the basis for understanding risk
  • Specifically designed to help companies assess water risk based on local context
  • Users will be able to customize the “weight” of each water risk indicator or use standard indicator weightings (risk profiles) for five water-dependant economic sectors.
Understanding and Responding to Water Use and Quality Impacts
  • Assesses “cost risks” due in part to the quality of water in the region
Conveying Water Information to Stakeholders
  • Water risk standard provides means by which companies can communicate with stakeholders