This paper will be of interest to companies and other organizations committed to advancing corporate water stewardship and improving water security for all. The paper is the start of a broader project that aims to develop guidance for companies seeking to employ meaningful water metrics and targets. The authors make the case that to effectively contribute to long-term risk mitigation and tackle increasing water challenges, corporate water targets must be informed by the best available science on hydro-ecological conditions at the basin level, informed by contextual social needs, and aligned with local to global public policy objectives. The paper is also an invitation to interested organizations and practitioners to support the project in the development of a common approach to identifying context-based water targets.
This discussion paper documents the initial thinking of CDP, UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), World Resources Institute (WRI), and WWF regarding:
- What constitutes a credible and meaningful context-based water target (CBWT);
- The value for companies of setting CBWTs, informed by the best available science, social equity principles, and legitimate local and global public policy objectives, e.g., UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6);
- Current practices in corporate water target setting;
- The potential challenges of and opportunities for companies in setting these targets; and
- Next steps in establishing a common approach to guide companies in identifying context-based metrics and setting CBWTs.
The content within reflects input collected during the CEO Water Mandate’s 16th MultiStakeholder Working Conference1 at Stockholm World Water Week in September 2016, and other engagements with companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) interested in this topic. Although the topic has relevance to all sectors, this discussion paper is primarily intended for companies.
This paper makes the case for the need to develop guidance that assists companies in employing context-based water metrics and setting meaningful water targets that:
- Support companies’ water risk mitigation efforts;
- Are informed by and aligned with basin conditions; and
- Advance water sustainability to the benefit of all users in the basin.
The resulting approach could potentially employ the targets underpinning SDG6 as a foundational framework because of its widespread adoption across countries and prioritization of the most critical threats to water security.