Managing Water-Related Risks: Moving from Awareness to Action
[Editor’s Note: Ecolab will be speaking at our 2017 Circular Economy Summit: From Aspiration to Implementation on the Water Risk Monetizer. Emilio Tenuta, Vice President, Corporate Sustainability at Ecolab, will be speaking on a panel discussing disruptive innovation technologies. For more information on the 2017 Circular Economy Summit, visit the event page.]
For the past decade, business has been trying to use less water to deal with increasing scarcity. Yet since 2011, corporate water use has only declined by 10 percent (source: Trucost).
With the U.N. projecting that global demand for water will exceed available resources by 40 percent by 2030, it’s time to face the truth – simply trying to reduce water use is not enough. We need to do more with the water we are using – and we need to start thinking about water as a recyclable asset rather than a consumable good. That’s the only way we can close this gap.
Last year, more than 200 companies reported to CDP that water scarcity is a potential risk to future revenues. This reporting is up six-fold from 2015. Awareness is the first step, but it does not seem to be enough. What is preventing business leaders from valuing and managing water as an asset at risk, similar to how they manage other vital assets?
This challenge starts with pricing: water is undervalued and underpriced in much of the world, often cheapest where it is most scarce. Water bills often do not reflect supply and demand realities or future costs related to rationing, price increases, poor quality, new regulations and other risks. This makes it difficult to make the business case for investing in water-saving technologies or to make informed decisions about where to locate or expand operations.
A first step to smarter water management is quantifying the full value of water at a site level. This requires going beyond the price paid to the local water utility to also include the costs of possible impacts due to insufficient water availability and quality – which can result in disruption of production, product quality issues, higher costs and curtailed growth.
To help companies get to the bottom of their water risks, Ecolab worked with partners Trucost and Microsoft to develop the Water Risk Monetizer, an easy-to-use, publicly available financial modeling tool that provides actionable information on water risks. Our shared goal: to help companies understand water’s full value and deliver insights to drive holistic water management that enables growth.
First launched in 2014, the Water Risk Monetizer was recently enhanced to provide a more complete view of water-related risks – both quality and quantity – and greater functionality for prioritizing water management projects. To ensure that the tool delivers highly credible and relevant assessments, we built it with local water basin datasets and applied best-in-class economic techniques and scientific methodologies developed by Trucost.
Using the Water Risk Monetizer, companies are able to:
- Identify opportunities to minimize water risk, maximize performance results and optimize costs
- Make the business case for investments in water management projects
- Prioritize projects based on site-specific risks, as well as within the context of broader enterprise risk
- Decide where to locate or expand operations – and how to meet customer demand in new regions
- Proactively manage a corporate water strategy with a focus on continuous improvement
On World Water Day 2017, I urge you to take the next steps to move from awareness to action. To make water risk management an integral part of your business strategy. It’s good for your business and good for the world.
Learn more about the Water Risk Monetizer tool at www.waterriskmonetizer.com.
[Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared here.]