Companies’ ability to measure and account for their water use and wastewater discharges throughout the value chain is a critical component in their risk assessment and mitigation efforts, as well as their broader ambitions to become responsible water stewards. Corporate water accounting also allows consumers, civil society groups, and the investment community to compare different companies’ social and environmental impacts in order to inform their actions and decision making. In sum, the ability to effectively account for corporate water use and impacts is essential in helping companies drive improvement and become aligned with external stakeholders’ expectations, as well as their efforts to advance sustainable water management.
However, collecting and disseminating meaningful water-related information is a complicated and difficult undertaking. And while corporate water accounting methods and tools have been under development for the past decade, there is still near universal agreement that current methods—though a good start—are inadequate and need to be refined.
This stocktaking exercise—a joint effort of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the CEO Water Mandate—aims to assess existing and emerging water accounting methods and tools being used in the private sector, with the goals of:
- Elucidating commonalities and differences among emerging methods and practice;
- Identifying gaps and challenges;
- Suggesting where accounting methods might benefit from harmonization and increased field-testing.