Corporate Water Footprinting: Why is it important? (Part 3) Reply

As we mentioned in our previous blog, water is both a local and global issue and must become a major priority in any sustainable organization.  The water scarcity issue is addressed in The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which concentrates on reversing poverty, hunger, and disease internationally.  Goal 7 of the MDG aims to “Ensure Environmental Sustainability” and includes a specific target to “Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.” The UN states that this target will not be met.

In a recent news article from the American Geophysical Union, the President of the Pacific Institute, Peter Gleick, addresses the status of the world’s water. Regarding falling short on the MDG for water, Gleik blames a lack of priority, not technology. He suggests an integrated approach for water issues, similar to energy and climate change issues. To accomplish this, it is necessary to understand “where the water is and where the water goes.”

A joint mission between NASA and the German Aerospace Center, entitled the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), involves two satellites that have been taking monthly images of groundwater since 2002. In ScienceNews (January 2012), Leonard Konikow stated, “There are too many areas in the world where groundwater development far exceeds a sustainable level. Something will have to change.” That change can begin with corporate water footprinting, and identifying the water stressed areas both up and down the supply chain.

Corporate Water Footprinting: Why is it important? (Part 2) 2

Water scarcity represents an ever growing risk to businesses in all sectors across the globe.  Business related water risk can be categorized into three areas: Physical, Regulatory, and Reputational. 

Physical risk refers to the direct limitation of business activities, supply of raw materials, and product use. Declines or disruptions in water supply can affect production, irrigation, material processing, cooling, and cleaning. Reputational Risk deals with competition for water supply (especially in water-strained areas), and can lead to community or local unrest regarding water withdrawal.

Regulatory Risk is directly caused by a combination of water scarcity and concern in local communities, and often forces local authorities to take action by allocating water, increasing prices, setting permitting standards, and developing rigorous wastewater quality standards.

The CDP Water Disclosure Global Report 2011 highlights some key statistics regarding water and the Global 500:

  • 59% of respondents cited water as a substantial risk to the company, while water-related risk has already impacted  1/3 of the reporting businesses. 
  • 63% of respondents identified opportunities including cost reductions and increased water efficiency, revenue from new water-related products or services, and improved brand value.
  • Less than 50% of respondents identified water policy as a board level issue, indicating that water is receiving less attention than climate change and energy conservation.  

Large companies throughout the world are aware of various water related risks, and recognize that there is opportunity for improvement, but water scarcity is still not receiving the attention it deserves. Corporate water footprinting can be an appropriate step in identifying these risks and opportunities to mitigate potential problems surrounding this limited resource.  

Please visit  our blog next week as we discuss corporate water footprinting and sustainability.

Corporate Water Footprinting: Why is it important? (Part 1) 2

Water is a scarce natural resource, often misunderstood and undervalued.  As we have come to recognize the dangers associated with climate change and energy security, the availability of water also concerns individuals, communities, and businesses on a global scale. The unsustainable rates of carbon emissions and water consumption are directly linked to population growth and industrial activity. However, water supply is also threatened by climate change as precipitation patterns and water availability change. 

While many companies voluntarily report on carbon emissions and energy usage, measuring and reporting water usage across the supply chain (corporate water footprinting) can be more difficult. Water has effects both locally and globally – extraction and usage greatly depend on the source and the geographic location. It is important for businesses to understand potential threats and opportunities specific to water usage.  

The Carbon Disclosure Project touts the importance of corporate water footprinting for many reasons: to highlight areas of risk and opportunity for businesses; to develop standard measurements and assessments; to provide transparency; to raise awareness about water concerns; and to ultimately encourage action and dialogue.

Each week, we will post a related blog to this site to inform our readers about important sustainability topics. Next week our blog will focus on the business related aspects of corporate water footprinting.  To subscribe, please enter your email address into the “email subscription” box on the right. You will be notified by email as new posts are made to the site.

For more information, please contact Wayne Bates at 508.970.0033 ext. 121 or wbates@capaccio.com.

Carbon Disclosure Project – Reporting Dates Released Reply

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an independent, not-for-profit organization which works to drive greenhouse gas emissions reduction and sustainable water use by business and cities. For those that participate, the CDP has posted its guidelines and dates for carbon, water, and supply chain reporting. The CDP will also be posting information on how to access the Online Response System (ORS) for each of these programs. CAPACCIO will continue to track the CDP for updates and will send along the ORS information as soon as it becomes available.

Carbon Reporting

–          Guidelines available                        January 2012

–          ORS instructions to be sent         early February 2012

–          Reports due                                    May 31, 2012

Water Reporting

–          Guidelines available                       January 2012

–          ORS instructions to be sent         February 2012

–          Reports due                                    June 30, 2012

Supply Chain Reporting

–          Guidelines available                       January 2012

–          ORS instructions to be sent         early April 2012

–          Reports due                                    July 31, 2012

Additional reporting information on each program, as well as past reports, are available on the CDP website: https://www.cdproject.net/

For more information or assistance in preparing reports, please contact Wayne Bates, PhD, PE, at 508.970.0033 ext. 121 or wbates@capaccio.com.