Datasets and Tools for Context Reporting

 

A number of datasets and tools can help companies assess the current state of their water management. Here we provide reference to these tools and offers guidance on calculating specific basin conditions as described under Context:

Water stress

Companies with operations located in water-stressed areas are generally more predisposed to a range of water-related risks. Their water supplies may be restricted, either through direct physical scarcity at the point of withdrawals or through indirect factors such as higher water prices and more stringent withdrawal limits. They may experience negative publicity as competing pressures within the region lead to stakeholder conflict. In worst-case scenarios, local regulators could revoke or suspend a facility’s operating permit, forcing it to shut down completely.

Companies may consider the following criteria when assessing water stress:

  • Geographic scale. Basin-level data are more appropriate than country-level data because stress conditions almost always follow hydrological, not political, boundaries. When available, subbasin-level data can provide a more detailed depiction of the conditions on the ground, since basins are often very large and conditions can vary greatly across them.
  • Temporal scale (short term). Monthly data are preferable to annual data because they account for seasonal variability in stress conditions.
  • Temporal scale (long term). Forward-looking assessments based on projected data provide more insight into how stress conditions are likely to evolve over time than assessments based on current or historical data.
  • Method for estimating supply. Methods that estimate water supply by taking both surface water and environmental flows into account are more sophisticated than those that look only at runoff estimates.
  • Method for estimating demand. Methods that calculate water demand with actual withdrawal and consumption data are more accurate than those that estimate demand based on per capita water withdrawal and water consumption assumptions.

The different approaches of the tools mentioned above are summarized in the following table.

Criterion WBCSD Global Water Tool WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas GEMI Local Water Tool WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter WFN Water Footprint Assessment Tool Veolia Water Impact Index
Geographic scale River basin level and sub-basin Country, river basin and sub-basin level Site vicinity River basin and sub-basin level River basin and sub-basin level Sub-basin level
Temporal scale
(short term)
Annual Annual based on monthly data Recent/seasonal Monthly; annual Monthly; annual Annual
Temporal scale
(long term)
Current and Forward-looking Current/historic; forward-looking Forward-looking Current/historic Current/historic Current/historic
Method for estimating current supply Runoff1 Runoff2 minus upstream consumptive use Depends on local water issues Natural runoff3,4minus environmental flows5 Natural runoff3,4minus environmental flows5 Runoff9
Method for estimating current demand Water withdrawal7 Withdrawals and consumption7,8 Competition with other users, regulatory limits, community stress Consumption4,6,7 Consumption4,6,7 Water withdrawal and consumption9

The sources listed here refer to the list of datasets on the previous page:

  • UNH
  • NASA GLDAS-2
  • Fekete et al.
  • Mekonnen and Hoekstra.
  • Richter et al.
  • CIESIN
  • FAO
  • Shiklomonov and Rodda
  • WaterGap2 and Rodda

 

Summary of underlying tool methodologies
The table below summarizes the underlying methodologies used to assess water stress:

Approach Source(s) Relevant Tools
Blue water scarcity: The ratio of the blue water footprint (based on consumption rather than withdrawal) to blue water availability, where the latter is the natural runoff minus the environmental-flow requirement. WFN: Hoekstra, A.Y. et al. (2012), Global Monthly Water Scarcity: Blue Water Footprints versus Blue Water Availability WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter; WFN Water Footprint Assessment Tool
Baseline water stress: The ratio of total annual freshwater withdrawals for the year 2010, relative to expected annual renewable freshwater supply based on 1950–2010 climatic norms. The WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas can help companies collect these data at a country, basin or sub-basin scale for the locations where their facilities are located. Gassert, F., M. Landis, M. Luck, P. Reig, and T. Shiao. 2014. “Aqueduct Global Maps 2.1.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (available December 2014) WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
The water stress index: A function of the rate of use of available water resources in a specific region factoring in seasonal variability and storage capacity (dams). The index has a value between 0 and 1. One meaning that the water resources are limited related to the needs to the region and 0 meaning that water resources in the area are abundant. S. Pfister, Koehler, A., Hellweg, S. (2009). “Assessing the Environmental Impact of Freshwater Consumption in LCA.” Environmental Science & Technology (43):4098-4104 Veolia’s Water Impact Index
Groundwater stress: The ratio of groundwater withdrawal relative to its recharge rate over a given aquifer. Values above one indicate where unsustainable groundwater consumption could affect groundwater availability and groundwater-dependent ecosystems. Gleeson, T., Y. Wada, M.F. Beirkens, and L.P. van Beek. 2012. “Water Balance of Global Aquifers Revealed by Groundwater Footprint.” Website: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/ v488/n7410/full/nature11295.html WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
Environmental water scarcity index by basin: The ratio of human water use (sum of domestic, industrial and agricultural) to renewable water resources. International Water Management Institute (IWMI) WBCSD Global Water Tool
Areas of physical and economic scarcity: The ratio of water use relative to water resources. There are four categories (1) little or no water scarcity: with less than 25% of water from rivers withdrawn for human purposes (2) Physical water scarcity: more than 75% of river flows are withdrawn for agriculture, industry and domestic purposes (3) Approaching physical water scarcity: more than 60% of river flows are withdrawn (4) economic water scarcity: human, institutional and financial capital limits access to water even though water in nature is locally available to meet human demands. Molden, David. “A Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture.” International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka: IWMI, 2007 WBCSD Global Water Tool
Severe water stress index: Measures the percent of country’s territory under severe water stress. This data is derived from the WaterGap 2.1 gridded hydrological model. The modelers derived for each country, grid cell by grid cell estimates of whether the water consumption exceeds 40 percent of the water available in that particular grid cell. These were then converted to land area equivalents in order to calculate the percentage of the territory under severe water stress. Alcamo, J., Henrichs, T., and Rosch, T. “World Water in 2025: Global modeling and scenario analysis for the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century. Kassel World Water Series Report No. 2,” Center for Environmental Systems Research, Germany: University of Kassel, 2000, 1-49 WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter

Flooding

One of the most common ways water impacts companies is through flooding. A large flood event or frequent smaller flooding events can devastate crops, shut down operations, or even destroy a facility. It is not uncommon for flood events to have negative financial consequences for a business. Companies can use several approaches to assess flooding, as shown in the following table.

Approach Source(s) Relevant Tools
Flood recurrence: Free and publicly available global database of all major floods during the period 1985¬–2011. The WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter provides a map depicting these flood recurrence rates by country and helps companies to calculate recurrence rates in the countries where their facilities are located. Note that WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter recurrence rates are reported at a country level, and its database covers major floods during the period 1985-2005. The WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas provides a similar global map depicting the number of flood occurrences from 1985 to 2011 at a country, basin and subbasin level. University of Colorado, the Flood Observatory ToolGassert, F., M. Landis, M. Luck, P. Reig, and T. Shiao. 2014. “Aqueduct Global Maps 2.1.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (available December 2014) WWF- DEG Water Risk Filter; WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
Country-level databases: Many governments maintain databases of the country’s major historic floods and flood zones. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency publishes free and publicly available detailed flood maps for the United States. Currently, none of the corporate water risk tools incorporate country-level flood data, but companies that wish to assess floods in more detail may consider using such information. N/A N/A
Number of flood disasters by country: Global database on natural and technological disasters that contains essential core data on the occurrence and effects of more than 17,000 disasters in the world from 1900 to present. Its hydrological sub-group data provides information on floods, mass movement, landslide, avalanche, and subsidence. Floods are further classified into general river floods, flash floods, and storm surge/coastal floods sub-types. The country profiles provide a summary of events from 1900 to 2014, as well as the top 10 disasters. Separate profiles for natural and technological disasters exist. EM-DAT: The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database (www.emdat.be), Universite Catholique de Louvain, Brussels (Belgium) EM:DAT

Poor ambient water quality

Companies operating in areas with degraded or unreliable water quality may be obligated to invest in pretreatment systems so as to ensure water of sufficient quality for production processes. This is especially true for industries where water is a direct product input. For these industries, low quality levels present a significant financial burden and business risk. Companies can use several approaches to assess water quality. Six options are shown here.

Approach Source(s) Relevant Tools
General pollutants: Global basin-level database of general pollutants with well-documented direct or indirect negative effects on water resources and biodiversity. Includes soil salinization, nitrogen loading, phosphorus loading, mercury deposition, pesticide loading, sediment loading, organic loading (as biological oxygen demand, or BOD), potential acidification and thermal alteration. The WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter provides free and publicly available global maps depicting these pollutants by basin and helps companies to collect these data for the basins where their facilities are located. Vörösmarty, C. J. et al. (2010), Global threats to human water security and river biodiversity, Nature, 467: 555–561 WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter
Typical industry level of water pollution: Database depicting average levels of water pollution for the direct operations and supply chain components of 34 industry sectors. Average values consider three pollution indicators: aquatic ecotoxicity, aquatic eutrophication, and aquatic acidification. Based on the Sustainability Consortium’s Open IO life cycle assessment (LCA) model. The WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter helps companies consider the average pollution levels for their industry. Sustainability Consortium WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter
Water pollution level: The ratio of the basin’s grey water footprint to the total basin discharge.A water pollution level of 1 means the pollution assimilation capacity has been fully consumed and indicates poor water quality.The WFN WaterStat database provides data on basin-level water pollution levels for nitrogen and phosphorus. Liu, C. et al. (2012), Past and future trends in grey water footprints of anthropogenic nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to major world rivers, Ecological Indicators, 18: 42–49 WFN Water Assessment Tool; WFN WaterStat
Return Flow Ratio: The fraction of renewable freshwater supply that has been previously withdrawn and discharged as upstream wastewater. A high number indicates that a significant component of renewable freshwater is withdrawn and discharged as upstream wastewater before reaching any given facility and indicates a water quality risk in the absence of local water treatment infrastructure. The WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas provides a free and publicly available map depicting global subbasin-level return flow ratio data and helps companies to collect these data for the basins where their facilities are located. Gassert, F., M. Landis, M. Luck, P. Reig, and T. Shiao. 2014. “Aqueduct Global Maps 2.1.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (available December 2014) WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
Upstream protected land: The ratio of renewable freshwater supplies that did not originate from upstream protected lands. Higher ratios indicate a higher likelihood of poor ambient water quality, as runoff originates from areas that are not protected under conservation easements. The WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas provides a global map of upstream protected land at a subbasin level. Gassert, F., M. Landis, M. Luck, P. Reig, and T. Shiao. 2014. “Aqueduct Global Maps 2.1.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (available December 2014) WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
Wastewater treatment: This indicator tracks how well countries treat wastewater from households and industrial sources before releasing it back into the environment. It tracks the performance of basic waste water management. The downstream effects of untreated wastewater are bad for public health and the health of the aquatic ecosystems. Hsu, A., J. Emerson, M. Levy, A. de Sherbinin, L. Johnson, O. Malik, J. Schwartz, and M. Jaiteh. (2014). “The 2014 Environmental Performance Index.” New Haven, CT: Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy. Available: www.epi.yale.edu WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter; Yale Environmental Performance Index

Regulatory uncertainty

A change in law or regulation can increase the costs of operating a business, reduce the attractiveness of an investment, or change the competitive landscape in which a company operates. Conducting business in areas with uncertain regulation around water issues makes it difficult for companies to develop long-term business plans or make capital investments with long payback periods. One resource to assist companies in assessing regulatory uncertainty is the set of country profiles maintained by the WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter. WWF created these profiles in collaboration with Tecnoma (TYPSA Group). They can help companies obtain an overview of water-related regulatory uncertainty for the countries within their reporting boundaries. Specifically, the country profiles can help companies assess 1) the sophistication and clarity of the water-related legal framework, 2) the enforcement of the water-related legal framework, 3) the water strategy of local, national, and upstream governments, including drought- and flood-management plans where appropriate, and 4) the existence of an official forum or platform in which stakeholders come together to discuss water-related issues of the basin. The profiles are free and publicly available through the WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter.

Insufficient infrastructure

Infrastructure limitations may adversely impact operations. For example, inadequate storage infrastructure in a particular region may undermine the reliability of supply for businesses during prolonged dry periods. Companies can use several approaches to assess water infrastructure, including the following:

Approach Source(s) Relevant Tools
Upstream storage: Measures the capacity to buffer variability in water supply (i.e., the resilience to drought and flood), providing a measure of supply-driver vulnerability. Upstream storage is the ratio of total uninhibited flow entering an area during one year (total blue water), over the total local and upstream dam and reservoir storage capacity. The WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas provides a free and publicly available map depicting upstream storage data and helps companies to collect these data for the basins where their facilities are located. Gassert, F., M. Landis, M. Luck, P. Reig, and T. Shiao. 2014. “Aqueduct Global Maps 2.1.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (available December 2014) WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
Dependency on hydropower: Percentage of hydroelectricity over total electric production on country level. The WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter provides a global map depicting dependency on hydropower and helps companies assess the dependency on hydropower for the basins where their facilities are located. World Bank (2004), World Development Indicators WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter

Insufficient access to drinking water or sanitation

When a company operates in regions where significant portions of the population do not have adequate access to drinking water or sanitation, it runs the risk of receiving hostile treatment from local stakeholders, particularly when it is a relatively large water user in a given region and/or when the region is facing prolonged dry periods. Such a company is exposed to reputational risk, as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) might mount campaigns against companies believed to exploit local water supplies at the expense of basic human rights. Finally, operating in areas without adequate access to safe drinking water and sanitation also risks the health of employees and may result in higher absentee rates. The main methodologies used to assess this context factor are summarized below.

Approach Source(s) Relevant Tools
Access to safe drinking water: The proportion of the population using an improved drinking-water source, which is defined as a drinking-water source that, by nature of its construction or through active intervention, is protected from outside contamination, in particular from contamination with fecal matter. The four tools listed to the right help companies assess access to safe drinking water in the countries where their facilities are located. Note that one limitation of the Joint Monitoring Programme database is that information is reported at a country level rather than a basin level. World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund, Joint Monitoring Programme WBCSD Global Water Tool, GEMI Local Water Tool, WWF- DEG Water Risk Filter, WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
Access to sanitation: The proportion of the population using an improved sanitation facility, which is defined as a sanitation facility that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact. The three tools listed to the right help companies assess access to sanitation in the countries where their facilities are located. Note that one limitation of the Joint Monitoring Programme database is that information is reported at a country level rather than a basin level. World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund, Joint Monitoring Programme WBCSD Global Water Tool, GEMI Local Water Tool, WWF- DEG Water Risk Filter
Percentage of population with access to irrigation adjusted by per capita water resources: The proportion of arable land to internal water resources. The idea behind this method of calculation is that countries with a high proportion of irrigated land relative to low internal available water resources are rated more highly than countries with a high proportion of irrigated land relatively to high available internal water resources. This recognizes that water availability for growing food is as important as for domestic and human consumption. Lawrence, P., J. Meigh, and C. Sullivan (2003), The Water Poverty Index: an International Comparison, United Kingdon: Keele Economics Research Papers WWF Water Risk Filter

Drought

Drought can impact companies in many ways. It may cause regulators to limit facility-level water withdrawals or heighten local concern regarding a company’s role as a water user in the basin. When droughts hit agricultural regions, they can drive up the price of commodities. These events have significant financial implications for companies dependent on these types of material inputs. Some of the options available to assess drought patterns are described below.

Approach Source(s) Relevant Tools
Drought occurrence: Percent of the country affected by a severe drought in the last three years. The WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter provides global maps depicting these drought occurrence rates by country. Both the WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter and the GEMI Local Water Tool can help companies to calculate drought occurrence rates in the countries where their facilities are located. One limitation of the Global Drought Monitor is that drought rates are reported at a country level rather than a basin level. University College London, Global Drought Monitor WWF- DEG Water Risk Filter, GEMI Local Water Tool
Drought Severity: The frequency of droughts lasting four months or longer, defined as a contiguous period of at least four months where soil moisture remains below the 20th percentile. Droughts of this length do substantial damage to natural vegetation and agricultural crops, tax aquatic ecosystems, and increase competition for water. The WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas provides a global map of drought occurrence at a country, basin and subbasin level. Sheffield, J. et al. (2006), Development of a 50-yr high-resolution global dataset of meteorological forcings for land surface modeling, Journal of Climate, 19 (13), 3088–3111Li, H. et al. (2010) Bias correction of monthly precipitation and temperature fields from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change AR4 models using equidistant quantile matching, Journal of Geophysical Research, 115 WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
Country-level databases: Many governments maintain databases of the country’s major droughts. In the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration maintain a free and publicly available objective long-term drought indicator map. Currently, none of the corporate water risk tools incorporate country-level drought data, but companies that wish to assess drought in more detail may consider using such information. N/A N/A

Climate change impacts

Current hydrological conditions may be significantly altered in the future depending on the impacts of climate change. Two options for assessing potential climate change impacts at a basin level are described below.

Approach Source(s) Relevant Tools
Forecasted impact of climate change: Global database and map maintained by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University that integrates projected climate change impacts and the ability of countries to respond to such changes. The WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter uses the worst-case scenario (5.5 °C change by 2050) to help companies assess the forecasted impact of climate change in the areas where their facilities are located. Yohe, G., E. Malone, A. Brenkert, M. Schlesinger, H. Meij, X. Xing, and D. Lee (2006), A Synthetic Assessment of the Global Distribution of Vulnerability to Climate Change from the IPCC Perspective That Reflects Exposure and Adaptive Capacity WWF- DEG Water Risk Filter
Projected impacts of climate change: Free and publicly available model assessing future impacts of climate change under different scenarios. The GEMI Local Water Tool recommends that companies use this tool to assess climate change using a 2050 A2 scenario. Climate Wizard, Nature Conservancy GEMI Local Water Tool
Annual renewable water supply per person: The average annual renewable water supply per inhabitant for individual river basins as measured in 1995 or projected total annual actual renewable water resource per inhabitant for 2025 and 2050. Areas where per capita water supply drops below 1,700 cubic meters per year are defined as experiencing water stress—a situation in which disruptive water shortages can frequently occur. WRI: Revenga, C. et al. (2000), Pilot Analysis of Global Ecosystems: Freshwater Systems WBCSD Global Water Tool
Projected change in water stress: the ratio of projected water stress arising from shifting patterns in climate, population, and level of economic development for 2020, 2030, and 2040 for of the two climate scenarios (RCP 4.5 and RCP8.5) and two socioeconomic scenarios (SSP2 and SSP3. Luck, M., M. Landis, and Gassert, F. 2014. “Aqueduct Water Stress Projections: Decadal Projections of Water Supply and Demand Using CIMP5 GCMS.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (available December 2014) WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
Projected change in seasonal variability: the ratio of projected seasonal variability for 2020, 2030, and 2040. Seasonal variability is the within year coefficient of variance between monthly total blue water as our indicator of seasonal variability of water supply. Luck, M., M. Landis, and Gassert, F. 2014. “Aqueduct Water Stress Projections: Decadal Projections of Water Supply and Demand Using CIMP5 GCMS.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (available December 2014) WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
Projected change in water demand: the ratio of projected water demand for 2020, 2030 and 2040 using two socio-economic scenarios (SSP2 and SSP3). Luck, M., M. Landis, and Gassert, F. 2014. “Aqueduct Water Stress Projections: Decadal Projections of Water Supply and Demand Using CIMP5 GCMS.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (available December 2014) WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
Projected change in water supply: the ratio of projected water supply for 2020, 2030, and 2040 using two climate scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). Luck, M., M. Landis, and Gassert, F. 2014. “Aqueduct Water Stress Projections: Decadal Projections of Water Supply and Demand Using CIMP5 GCMS.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (available December 2014) WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas

Changing demographics

It is important to consider how basin-level conditions might evolve in the future. Demographic trends such as population growth, industrialization, and electrification can increase demand for water and intensify pressure on local water resources. Companies can assess such trends using global datasets such as those provided by the CIA World Fact Book, U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, and United Nations Population Division. The GEMI Local Water Tool can help companies ascertain how to use these datasets when assessing demographic trends in the basins where they operate.

Limited management capacity

Water shortages can exist even in relatively water-abundant areas, for when basins do not have sufficient capacity to manage their water resources, water supplies may not be effectively delivered to users and water discharge may not be sufficiently treated. There is currently no quantitative way to evaluate basin-level management capacity. Companies looking to conduct a qualitative assessment of management capacity may find it helpful to refer to the WWF/Tecnoma country profiles available through the WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter.

Ecosystem vulnerability

Facilities in areas with highly vulnerable freshwater ecosystems are more likely to have significant environmental impacts than those in less vulnerable areas. Operating in areas with vulnerable ecosystems can also present a business risk as these areas are likely to have ecosystem services failures, more stringent water regulations, and/or higher levels of public scrutiny. The science of quantifying ecosystem health is rapidly evolving. Four aspects of ecosystem vulnerability, and the approaches a company can take to assess them, are described below.

Approach Source(s) Relevant Tools
Threat to freshwater biodiversity: An index of global threats to freshwater biodiversity based on 23 geospatial drivers related to catchment disturbance, pollution, water resource development, and biotic factors. The WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter provides a free and publicly available global map depicting basin-level threats to freshwater biodiversity and helps companies assess threats in the basins where their facilities are located. Vörösmarty, C. J. et al. (2010), Global threats to human water security and river biodiversity, Nature, 467: 555–561 WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter
WWF priority basins: Freshwater areas with particularly high conservation value to WWF. The WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter provides a free and publicly available global map depicting WWF priority basins and helps companies identify facilities located in these basins. WWF (2010), WWF Priority Basins WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter
Vulnerability of water ecosystems: Database showing the extent to which the natural environment of a country is prone to damage and degradation. Based on 50 indicators estimating the vulnerability of a country to future shocks. The WWF-DEG Water Risk filter helps companies interpret the vulnerability of water ecosystems in the countries where their facilities are located. South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (2012) Environmental Vulnerability Index WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter
Biodiversity: Subscription-based database and interactive mapping tool for globally recognized biodiversity information, including key biodiversity areas and legally protected areas. The GEMI Local Water Tool refers users to this database for additional information on ecosystem vulnerability. The WBCSD Global Water Tool identifies how many of the company’s sites are in biodiversity hotspots. Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) for Business GEMI Local Water Tool, WBCSD Global Water Tool
Freshwater G200 River Basins: Includes seven major habitat types for freshwater ecoregions: Large Rivers, Large River Headwaters, Large River Deltas, Small Rivers, Large Lakes, Small Lakes, and Xeric (dry) Basins. All include representation of major wetlands and wetland habitat. Over half of the Global 200 freshwater ecoregions (53%) are critical or endangered and nearly quarters (23%) are considered vulnerable. WWF Global G200 Maps WWF Water Risk Filter
Threatened Amphibians: Measures the percentage of freshwater amphibian species classified by IUCN as threatened. Higher values indicate more fragile freshwater ecosystems and may be more likely to be subject to water withdrawal and discharge regulations. Gassert, F., M. Landis, M. Luck, P. Reig, and T. Shiao. 2014. “Aqueduct Global Maps 2.1.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (available December 2014) WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
World Database of Protected Areas (WDPA): Global dataset on marine and terrestrial protected areas. Includes the official set of 191, 796 protected areas submitted by national protected areas authorities (including protected areas classified using the IUCN protected area category system) and the secretariats of international conventions (e.g. Ramsar, World Heritage and Man & Biosphere). UNEP and IUCN IBAT for business
Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs): Maps important sites for a wide range of critical biodiversity in marine, freshwater and terrestrial biomes. The data is informed by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The sites are identified using globally standard criteria and thresholds, based on the needs of biodiversity requiring safeguards at the site scale. These criteria are based on the framework of vulnerability and irreplaceability widely used in systematic conservation planning. IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas: Best Practice Protected Areas Guidelines Series No. 15. (2007) Identification and gap analysis of Key Biodiversity Areas: Targets for comprehensive protected area systems. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. Available electronically at: www.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/PAG-015.pdf IBAT for Business
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Uses a scientifically rigorous approach to determine risks of extinction that is applicable to all species, and has become a world standard. It’s a complete scientific knowledge base on the biology and conservation status of species. IUCN. (2012). IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. Second edition. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN. iv + 32pp IBAT for business
Endangered Species Protection: Percent of Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) reporting requirements met “Countries Compared by Environment > Endangered species protection. International Statistics at NationMaster.com”,Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Report on National Reports Required Under Article VIII, Paragraph 7(a), of the Convention, Eleventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties, Gigiri, Kenya, April 2000. Aggregates compiled by NationMaster. Retrieved from http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Environment/Endangered-species-protection WWF Water Risk Filter

Total basin availability

A company that consumes a large proportion of a basin’s available water supplies is more likely to create significant social and environmental impacts than one that consumes a small fraction of the available water supplies. Therefore, it is important for companies to consider their water withdrawals and consumption in the context of total basin availability. This includes water required to meet basic human needs such as drinking, sanitation, and food production as well as water required to maintain local aquatic, riparian, and terrestrial ecosystems.

The WFN provides total basin-level blue water availability data in its WaterStat database, which is free and publicly available online. WaterStat includes maps and spreadsheets depicting this data for the world’s major river basins, broken down by month. Although monthly variability is critical when assessing availability, for the sake of simplicity in reporting, we encourage companies to extrapolate to an annual average figure. One limitation of WaterStat is that it does not address interbasin transfers. Therefore, basins may appear to be water-stressed when in reality they have an extensive infrastructure in place to receive water supplies from a neighboring basin. Despite this limitation, WaterStat is currently the most comprehensive and accessible source for basin-level availability data. Another source of availability data is the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Aquastat database, but this resource provides country-level rather than basin-level data.

Supply variability

Companies located in areas with high variability in water supplies (e.g., with a prolonged dry season), may experience limitations in water supply. Two options for assessing supply variability are described below:

Approach Source(s) Relevant Tools
Seasonal variability: Standard deviation/mean of total blue water availability calculated using the mean availability of each of the 12 cardinal months. The WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas provides a global map of seasonal variability at a country, basin and subbasin level. Metric developed by WRI using the same supply data as the Baseline Water Stress metric.Gassert, F., M. Landis, M. Luck, P. Reig, and T. Shiao. 2014. “Aqueduct Global Maps 2.1.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (available December 2014) WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas
Interannual variability: Standard deviation/mean of annual total blue water availability. The WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas provides a global map of interannual variability at a country, basin and subbasin level. Metric developed by WRI using the same supply data as the Baseline Water Stress metric.Gassert, F., M. Landis, M. Luck, P. Reig, and T. Shiao. 2014. “Aqueduct Global Maps 2.1.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute (available December 2014) WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas

Cultural and religious values

Water resources have cultural or religious significance in many local communities. If a company is unaware of these values, it runs the risk of offending local customs and engendering opposition to the company’s presence in the basin. In such cases, a company can experience negative reputational or regulatory impacts and even lose its license to operate. As with regulatory uncertainty and management capacity, assessing cultural and religious attitudes toward water resources requires a qualitative approach. The WWF/Tecnoma country profiles available through the WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter can be a useful resource for companies seeking information on this topic.

Media awareness

In some regions, water issues receive a high level of public scrutiny from local communities and NGOs. Such issues are often picked up by local, regional, or even national media sources. The level of water-related media awareness in the basins where a company operates can greatly influence a company’s reputational risks. WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas measures the percentage of all media articles in an area on water-related issues. Higher values indicate areas with higher public awareness about water issues, and consequently higher reputational risks to those not sustainably managing water. Also, the WWF/Tecnoma country profiles available through the WWF-DEG Water Risk Filter may provide companies with relevant information. Companies may also conduct a Google search to identify global or local news on basin-specific water issues. AquaNow allows water professionals to access a substantive database of water-related news globally. This database empowers users to search through over 300,000 tagged data points across 26,000 water news articles compiled from around the world. Users can search the database by using a map-based interface delivering detailed results at watershed, country and local levels. AquaNOW also permits topic-driven search in over 25 subject areas including corporate risk, environment, health, energy and food security, regulation and transnational issues.



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