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Water: the elephant in the room

Water: the elephant in the room

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Published by salterbaxter
The Marsh Center for Risk Insights found that 40% of Fortune 1000 companies recognised the potential impact of water shortages, yet only 17% felt prepared for it. Water is clearly the elephant in the room. We thought for the first edition of Directions in 2010 we’d pay it some attention.
The Marsh Center for Risk Insights found that 40% of Fortune 1000 companies recognised the potential impact of water shortages, yet only 17% felt prepared for it. Water is clearly the elephant in the room. We thought for the first edition of Directions in 2010 we’d pay it some attention.

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Published by: salterbaxter on Mar 31, 2010
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Water:the elephantin the room
Why water is the big issue getting ready to charge
* Salterbaxter and FindAgent are working together on issuestracking and analysis services for corporate responsibility.If you would like more information please get in touch.
Salterbaxter has recently set up an onlineissues tracker, powered by FindAgent
.It is a tool which enables you to chart onlineconversations on any number o issues,providing insight into stakeholder debateand opinion. We did a search or onlinedebate and dialogue around water postCOP15. Top line fndings show that o the4,452 online postings rom 19/12/09 to07/01/10, almost a third o posts wererom bloggers and opinion ormers (1,449).Another third were press or news sites,and only 33 posts (which is under 1%)were businesses. It looks like businessesare noticeably absent rom the debateand are not thinking about how toeectively engage with stakeholderson this issue.
Less than 1%: business’ contributionto online dialogue on water 
Directions Supplement
February/March 10
The Intergovernmental Panel on ClimateChange has stated that a 2-3°C rise in globaltemperatures could result in water scarcityor over 3 billion people – almost hal o theworld’s population. The ACCA identifed wateras the next big issue ater climate change;issues o supply and air use are becomingan increasing challenge or business in manyparts o the world; and there is a compellingargument that the water challenge isinextricably linked to climate change. Waterplays an essential role or many industriesso surely it should be high on corporateagendas, but is it? We’ve noted an air ocomplacency amongst business – many areaware o the water issue but ew are currentlyresponding to it or indeed prepared to dealwith it head on.It’s air to say that we are all increasinglyaware o the scale o the water issue.Initiatives rom institutes such as the WorldEconomic Forum (WEF) and the PacifcInstitute have increased awareness o thewater challenge and businesses’ recognitiono its importance.Business orums like the CEO Water Mandatehave helped to distil the debate urther. Butis all this working to improve how businessesapproach the issue? With 40% o Fortune1000 companies
agreeing that the impacto a water shortage on their business wouldbe ‘severe’ or ‘catastrophic’, we would expecta large number to be prepared or the crisis.But only 17% said they actually were.The Polaris Institute, amongst others, havevoiced concerns over initiatives such as theCEO Water Mandate, stating they are more oa corporate PR eort to gain greater controlover water resources and services. We elt itwould be worth taking a look at a selection obusinesses to see who is talking about water,what they are saying and what is being done.
*The Marsh Center or Risk Insights.
Welcome to Directions
The Marsh Center or Risk Insights ound that 40% o Fortune 1000companies recognised the potential impact o water shortages, yetonly 17% elt prepared or it. Water is clearly the elephant in theroom. We thought or the frst edition o Directions in 2010 we’d payit some attention.So we’ve invited Dave Tickner o WWF-UK, to give us an overviewo the challenge water scarcity presents. Marcus Norton, Head oWater Disclosure at CDP, explains why business does not have theluxury o time. And to provide an insight into who’s saying what,salterbaxter provide a snapshot review o some notable waterbabies, and some noticeable by their absence rom the debate.
Sustainability team
We’ve picked ten o the CEO Water Mandatesignatory companies and looked at their publicdisclosures. We ound a range o approaches,some detailed, some not and we’ve groupedthem into those tackling the elephant in theroom, and those only just getting started.
Water is identifed as one o the three keyissues that Bayer ace. Bayer communicatean understanding o the business benefts,have a vested interest in good watermanagement because it needs to cooland operate production acilities, and usetechnology to come up with solutions to theissue. Bayer ocus on innovative solutions toareas such as eective wastewater cleaning,energy efciency through nanotechnologyand solutions or agriculture.
Carlsberg uses 3.7 hectolitres o water tomake 1 hectolitre o beer (2008) making itthe most efcient global brewing companyin terms o water use. And it plans to cutuse by a urther 11% by 2012, taking wateruse down to 3.3hl per hl o beer. It aimsto establish partnerships with local andinternational organisations to urther improvewater efciency. Carlsberg Poland’s BosmanBrewery is operating one o Europe’s mostcompact and efcient waste water treatmentplants – one o less than ten in the world at themoment. We look orward to reading moreabout progress against promises soon.
With 1.6 billion servings consumed each day,Coca-Cola uses a lot o water to make it’sdrinks. Globally it uses 2.43 litres o water oreach litre o drinks produced, in the UKthis drops to an impressive 1.5 litres. It istargeting a 20% improvement in waterefciency by 2012 based on 2004 fgures.Global action includes water-risk surveysor each o their 79 production acilitiesand Coca-Cola is looking to beneft romcollective action: “to magniy our eorts,we work with peer industries, sharing bestpractices and benchmarking our progress”.A good example o a company tackling theissue head on and in a collective way – butit is one o it’s biggest issues.
People who will suerwater shortages as aresult o a 2–3°C rise inglobal temperatures.O Fortune 1000 companies*said they actually were preparedor the crisis.
H&M does not own any production acilitiesso aim to fnd solutions or impacts within thesupply chain – not only with its direct suppliersbut deeper in the supply chain with indirectsuppliers. H&M see’s this as essential toestablishing an accurate water ootprint. Theaim is to broaden initiatives on the issue toocus on water consumption in addition towastewater, particularly in abric productionand dyeing. H&M realises the inuence itcan have on suppliers to help resolveindirect impacts and bring about positivechange, a good example o meeting thesupply chain and collective action elementso the Water Mandate.
Nestlé is probably the most advanced o thebatch in terms o the time it has dedicatedto the subject. Water is one o its three keyissues and being the world’s leading bottledwater company so it should be. In 2008 itachieved its water targets and reducedwater withdrawal per tonne o productionby 6%. Nestlé’s combined long-term andshort-term approach has resulted in a totalreduction in water withdrawals per tonneo products by a massive 58% since 1999.
Reed Elsevier:
Reed Elsevier’s strength lies in robustmeasurement o progress against targetsand clear presentation o data: “Absolutewater usage decreased 9% rom 485,951 m
 in 2007 to 441,905 m
in 2008, allowing us toexceed our fve year 10% reduction target. Ona normalised basis, we achieved an equivalent24% reduction between 2007 and 2008 anda 35% reduction between 2003 and 2008”.Good perormance on reducing water impactsand communicating year-on-year data in acomparable and transparent manner.
Tackling the elephant in the room
O Fortune 1000 companies*agree that the impact o a watershortage on their business wouldbe ‘severe’ or ‘catastrophic’.

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