It is difficult to envision a water scarcity issue when you turn on your tap in most places in the U.S. and immediately are provided with clean, fresh, and relatively low cost or even free water. Increasingly, this is not the case for many, and we only need to look at the recent water crisis in Flint to learn of the water quality and quantity concerns existing today. Understanding the water management needs and resources for your business is critical, as well as how this precious natural resource may be adversely impacted by climate change, population growth, and drought, among other considerations.
Summarized below are some important insights for business:
- In PwC’s 17th Annual Global CEO Survey, 46% agreed that resource scarcity and climate change will transform their business in the next five years.
- In the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2015, water crises was ranked as the top risk in terms of impact (1. Water, 2. Spread of infectious diseases, 3. Weapons of mass destruction, 4. Interstate conflict, 5. Failure of climate change adaptation, 6. Energy price shock, 7. Critical information infrastructure breakdown, 8. Fiscal crises, 9. Unemployment or underemployment, and 10. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.)
- According to UN-Water, in 2030, 47% of the world population will be living in areas of high water stress.
- The Ceres Disclosure Project reports that businesses that consider water as a substantive risk to business rose from 59% in 2011 to 68% in 2014.
- The World Business Council for Sustainable Business Development identifies the following broad categories of business risks that flow from water—financial, operational, market, reputational, and regulatory.
According to PwC, identifying water as a risk and managing its impact on the business is the first step to becoming more resilient. Initial steps include:
- Identify and understand how water-related risks will impact your growth strategies.
- Take action to reduce and better manage your water use.
- Collaborate with the right partners for sustainable systemic resilience to water issues.
PwC’s report, Collaboration: Preserving Water Through Partnering That Works, provides a comprehensive overview of water-related considerations for business. This report provides some good insight into why water management is a business priority.