Project Methodology



The project’s research methodology included: a review of current literature; interviews with numerous academics, industry representatives and practitioners; attendance at relevant water accounting gatherings; and conversations with various organizations working in the field. It emphasized an iterative and inclusive data collection and analytical process, whereby key stakeholders were engaged throughout the project to help develop plan, the methodological approach, and report drafting. This engagement was done primarily through a Research Advisory Committee (RAC) which included stakeholders from the private sector (including numerous CEO Water Mandate endorsers); civil society organizations; academia; the standards-setting community; as well as representatives from the Water Footprint Network and the LCA community. A prior iteration of this study was sent out for public comment from November 16 to December 11, 2009 and was discussed at a workshop in Paris on November 23-24, 2009 organized by UNEP, during which experts were encouraged to provide feedback and debate the contents of the draft and other components of the broader UNEP WaFNE Project.

The methods and tools explored in this analysis were selected based on the degree to which they are publically available and specifically designed to account for water use and discharge, as well as their applicability to a wide variety of geographic locations and industry sectors. In the process of selecting methods to be analyzed, we discovered a number of water accounting methods that are regionally/nationally-specific, industrysector specific, or proprietary. In addition, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is currently developing a standard for water accounting that is highly relevant to this research (not included because it is in early stages of development).

The four main methods/tools that serve as the focus of our analysis—Water Footprinting, Life Cycle Assessment, the WBCSD Water Tool, and GEMI Water Sustainability Planner/Tool—were assessed using a number of criteria designed to be broadly applicable to all relevant water accounting methods. They informed the development of the analysis, but not necessarily the structure of the final report due to their inherently inter-related and overlapping nature. These criteria are as follows:

Purpose, objectives, and applicability

  • For what internal and external purposes is the method or tool intended?
  • What are the questions companies are trying to answer with this method?
  • To what ends can companies currently use this method effectively?
  • What is the level of maturity and market acceptance of the method? What components of the method are currently under development and not yet operational or effective?

Calculations, methods, and outputs

  • What broad types of data and information does this method intend to gather/assess?
  • How does the method divide/categorize data and information contained in the final product?

Water quality/Industrial effluent

  • What broad approach to accounting for water quality does this method/tool take?
  • What specific water quality-related data and information is (and is not) accounted for in this approach?

Assessment of impacts to watersheds, ecosystems, and communities

  • What criteria does each method use to measure local water resource context data and information?
  • What is the method able (and not able) to communicate and quantify through its approach to impacts?

Assessment of water-related business risks and opportunities

  • How, if at all, does the method account for and quantify business risks and opportunities associated with water-related impacts on watersheds, ecosystems, and communities?
  • Does the method recommend specific actions to reduce water-related business risks?
Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 02 Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 02 Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 03 Image 01 Image 01 Image 03 Image 03 Image 01 Image 01 Image 03 Image 03
Translate »