Water will become an increasingly important resource to understand and manage for businesses to perform.
Joel Makower writes about a new tool to help global businesses manage their water risks.
World Water Week is upon us, an annual fete of all things H2O. The event, held in Stockholm, is the leading global meeting place for experts from businesses, governments, science, NGOs, academe and United Nations agencies. This year’s event features the launch on Tuesday of a remarkable Global Water Tool, a free online resource to help companies calculate water consumption and efficiency across a portfolio of facilities around the world.
The tool is the product of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, a Geneva-based organization of some 200 international companies representing 30 countries and 20 industrial sectors. Nearly all of its members have core businesses that depend heavily on water: Alcan (Charts) and Alcoa (Charts, Fortune 500) (aluminum production), ConocoPhillips (Charts, Fortune 500) and Shell (Charts) (oil production and refining), Dow (Charts, Fortune 500) and Dupont (Charts, Fortune 500) (chemicals and ag products), Rio Tinto (mining), Lafarge and Holcim (cement), Pepsico and Suez (water and beverages)
Indeed, pretty much all large companies depend heavily on water.
One of the challenges such companies face is assessing the potential risks posed by water’s uneven quality and quantity from place to place, and even from time to time in the same place. For companies, the questions are many: How many sites are in extremely water-scarce areas? Which sites are at greatest risk? How that will change in the future? How many employees live in countries that lack access to improved water and sanitation? How many suppliers are in water-scarce areas now, or will be in ten or twenty years?