GLOBE-Net, August 30, 2012 - "Water
should be more highly valued to reflect its worth and reduce its
waste." Those words by Paul Bulcke, chief executive
officer at Nestle SA (NESN), the world's biggest food
company, at a World Water Week seminar in Stockholm this
week, reflect growing corporate awareness of the importance
of water to business survival.
"If something isn't given a value, people tend to waste it,"
Bulcke said . "Water is our most useful resource but those using it
often don't even cover the costs of its infrastructure."
To give greater awareness of the importance of water, the UN
Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate initiative released its
Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines - the first ever common
approach to corporate water disclosure.
Companies are fundamentally changing the
way they address water. Increasingly, they are investing in
water-efficient technologies, working with suppliers to encourage
more responsible water use, introducing cleaner and more efficient
products, and seeking to advance sustainable water management
outside their fencelines as a way to mitigate water-related risks
The release of the Guidelines took place at the CEO Water
Mandate's ninth working conference during World Water Week
The UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate initiative also
announced the launch of a global Water Action Hub - the world's
first on-line platform to unite companies, governments, NGOs, and
other stakeholders on a range of critical water projects in
specific river basins around the planet.
The launch of the Water Action Hub was accompanied by the
release of a beta version of the CEO Water Mandate's Guide to Water-Related Collective Action,
which provides a step-by-step approach to water-resource-related
Corporate water disclosure is a critical component of a
company's water management efforts and water sustainability more
The Guidelines suggest that companies can offer several types of
water-related information, which are captured in the Guidelines'
Corporate Water Disclosure Framework.
The new Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines, developed in
collaboration with the Pacific Institute, Carbon Disclosure
Project, PricewaterhouseCoopers, World Resources Institute, and
Global Reporting Initiative, offer a common approach to disclosure,
putting forward metrics that can begin to harmonize practice and
also providing guidance to help companies define report
"It is our hope these Guidelines drive convergence with respect
to how companies report their water management efforts while
helping to minimize reporting burdens, thus allowing companies to
allocate more time and resources to actively managing water," said
Gavin Power, Deputy Director the UN Global Compact and Head of the
CEO Water Mandate.
"Disclosure also supports more sustainable and equitable
management of water resources by improving the ability of
stakeholder audiences to evaluate a company's water practices and
make comparisons across companies - which fosters greater corporate
accountability," he added.
The CEO Water Mandate Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines
support business viability in many ways, from improving a company's
understanding of its water challenges and effective responses, to
providing an opportunity to demonstrate progress and good practice
to external stakeholders and investors, to establishing a dialog
and building credibility with key stakeholders - paving the way for
future partnerships and achievement of shared water-related
The Corporate Water Disclosure Framework builds on three
1. Company Water
Profile - an overview of the company's relationship
with water resources, offering a snapshot of water performance,
risks, impacts, and response strategies that nontechnical audiences
can easily understand.
2. Defining Report
Content - a description of the process by which a
company determines which water-related content to include in its
report. The company assesses the significance of different water
topics to the company and its stakeholders, and the extent to which
those topics cause, or may in the future cause, adverse impacts to
ecosystems and communities.
Disclosure - specific, detailed metrics and
qualitative information related to the company's water management
as well as to the specific water management programs and projects
"Following this process, whether basic or advanced, companies
can make connections among the sections of the Framework,
explaining how, for example, business risks and impacts result from
specific basin conditions and how response strategies address and
mitigate certain risks and impacts," said co-author Jason Morrison
of the Pacific Institute, which serves as part of the CEO Water
"With their disclosure reporting, companies also have the
potential to make linkages among water and other sustainability
topics, shedding light on how their water management efforts
address other sustainability concerns, and conversely how other
issues like climate change and energy use contribute to the
companies' water-related challenges."
The World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) of the UN
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has
released a report, titled "Carbon and Water Footprints:
Concepts, Methodologies and Policy Responses," which highlights the
differences in methodological rigor between water and carbon
footprints, noting that they are often treated similarly by
policy-makers. The report is available here.