As water stewardship moves increasingly into the business spotlight, companies are looking for information and resources to help them understand water issues and respond to them effectively. WWF has teamed up with German development finance organization DEG to create the Water Risk Filter, a tool that helps companies identify their water-related risks and provides support for them to develop ways to address those risks. The system has been piloted by companies that include brewery SABMiller and clothing retailer H&M.
The tool, which is intended for use by non-experts, is designed to be easy to use, but provides detailed results by pulling data collected from 235 different countries and territories. By entering information about facility locations, industry, and operations, the filter can provide companies and investors with a relative risk score for individual facilities as well as a risk profile for the company as a whole. The interactive mapping feature also provides a geographical analysis of water risk issues. According to WWF, the risk indicators cover all elements of water-related risks that can have a financial impact on the organization.
The mitigation section, which is perhaps the most valuable part of the tool, provides practical ideas for how companies can create strategies, set baselines, design action plans, and drive water stewardship actions within the organization. These suggestions are based on the company’s risk profile and are presented within the framework of the company’s risk factors. The recommended actions have also been designed along a continuum of water stewardships steps from “awareness of water issues” to “influencing governance,” and are supported by case studies based on the experiences of other organizations.
Roughly 40 percent of the world’s population is living in river basins that experience severe water shortages during at least part of the year and more than 900 million people lack access to safe drinking water. According to WWF, this is a risk that companies cannot ignore, and yet most organizations are lacking knowledge about how water issues could impact their supply chains or facility operations. The Water Risk Filter was created to provide a simple tool for companies to use to manage these risks.
“Water availability is the most underestimated critical issue for the companies we are financing, but we believe that financial institutions can help make the companies more sustainable in their performance,” said Bruno Wenn, Chairman of DEG. “Our work with WWF looks beyond the risks and shows practical ways for how to change them into business opportunities.”
Kara Scharwath is a corporate social responsibility professional, marketing consultant and Sustainable Management MBA Candidate. She is currently working as a Graduate Associate in Corporate Citizenship at the Walt Disney Company while pursuing her degree at Presidio Graduate School. Follow her on Twitter @karameredith.