CR Roundup WWF offers framework for improving corporate water management policies

CR Roundup: WWF offers framework for improving corporate water management policies

By Bill Hatton

If you are looking for a quick framework to assess and/ or determine if your water-management program is on track, consider one offered by Lindsey Bass of World Wildlife Fund’s corporate water stewardship program for the U.S. She spoke on a panel on water management at Sustainable Brands in San Diego.

“[A] lot of people, when they talk about water stewardship, don’t think about the WWF,” said Lindsey Bass. “We’re known for panda and species conservation. So many are surprised to learn that we actually do quite a bit in looking at market transformation and how do we engage and mobilize the private sector to embark on a journey to create more sustainable water resource management? That’s really a direct reflection of the fact that, while we are a species conservation organization, we have to address the most pressing threats and drivers on the [places] that we care about.”

From there, it was a short walk over to working directly with corporations on water management.

“[W]ater … is the ultimate connector is a shared resource,” said Bass. “We all either rise or fall by how well we manage our water resources and so it was really a deliberate effort undertaken by our organization to begin working with corporations to figure out how to address these shared risks together.”

Awareness has increased in recent years, magnified by the California drought. “The other reflection that I wanted to make is that I have been working in water stewardship with WWF now for five years….,” Bass said. “Water stewardship did not occupy a very high place within corporate agenda five years ago. But I will tell you it does today. If you look at the news in California, water is everywhere. We are seeing some groundbreaking legislation coming forward in this state and in places around the world. It signifies the fact that water is rocketing up the agenda, not just of governments and communities, but of corporations because it is being recognized as material risk.”

From WWF’s work with corporations, they’ve found a common framework. “We worked with big corporations like Coca-Cola Company, Procter & Gamble, … Ecolab …,” said Bass. “In all that work, in figuring out how to create really comprehensive, cohesive water stewardship strategies, we saw a similar framework emerging around the corporate journey up this water stewardship ladder.”

Here is the framework she suggested:

1. Develop water awareness. “This is understanding that this is a big issue, not just in your sustainability departments, but in your company.”

Essentially it allows you to very easily upload your sites and get a sense of what their risk is with respect to where they sit in the world.

If you look at the news in California, water is everywhere.

2. Get to knowledge of impact. “How does water flow through your business? How does it impact your business? How does your business impact water resources?”

3. Understand biggest risks. Where it is material to you? Where does it require taking internal action?

4. Create policies around water. Apply what the company has learned so far: Make decisions about how your company will use water and how much it will recycle.

5. Figure out what your top priorities are. Quick wins in high-potential return areas will build momentum for more savings. Many companies are able to find savings by finding efficiencies in operations that require less water; others are finding different products can save water or help with water recycling.

6. What does your road map look like? What are the strategic actions that need to get underway immediately?

7. What do you want to build toward in the future? Come up with your action plan – the best companies set audacious goals and frequently don’t know how to get to those goals 10, 15 years out. But they know they’ll figure it out along the way.

Two tools Bass suggested:

• The CEO Water Mandate: “[T]he CEO Water Mandate [is] a great grounding foundational resource for folks who are embarking on a water solution journey,” said Bass. “The Water Mandate was launched in 2007 as part of the UN Global Compact. It is really set up around the pillars of what the global compact seeks to address, which is human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption. The CEO Water Mandate is [one] component of that compact, and they have a tremendous amount of great resources, guidelines, and best practices around their six core elements within the mandate, and those include operations, supply chain management and water sheds, collective action, policy, as well as community engagement, and transparency.” Web: http://ceowatermandate.org/

• The Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard. “[T] his is the first international water stewardship standard; it was launched in April 2014 by the AWS organization…,” said Bass. “The AWS organization does center around three key areas – the first being that standard and its verification. The second is a membership organization, which really allows people to pull together and share best practices around water stewardship. The last is training, to help people understand how to implement and utilize this standard.” Web: http://www. allianceforwaterstewardship.org/

• The water risk filter. “That knowledge of impact step is really where the water risk filter can be particularly useful,” said Bass. “This is an online, freely available tool that WWF created and launched about three years ago in partnership with the German development bank. Essentially it allows you to very easily upload your sites and get a sense of what their risk is with respect to where they sit in the world. It gives you a basin-risk assessment using the best scientifically verified global water risk indicators: Pollution, climate change, floods, droughts, all sorts of things, to get a sense of where your operations are positioned.” Web: http://waterriskfilter.panda.org/
Posted August 13, 2015 in 25115