WBCSD Launches Tool to Help Business Rein in Water Use

WBCSD Launches Tool to Help Business Rein in Water Use

Concern about global water supplies is on the rise, similar to the ongoing concern about having reached the world's peak oil output. In addition to the obvious dangers posed to people and agriculture, a lack of water can disrupt the global economy by limiting manufacturing capabilities and introducing instability to water-scarce regions.

A new tool developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development aims to help companies operating around the world to map their water use and assess the risks of water scarcity to their global operations and supply chains.

The Global Water Tool, which will be officially launched during World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, on August 15, is free and easy to use, and the WBCSD hopes that it will help companies manage their water use better, under the assumption that better local management will lead to better global management.

"The Global Water Tool is valuable for companies around the globe that understand clean water resources are critical to business success and must be managed effectively," said Steven Loranger, CEO of engineering and manufacturing company ITT, which helped advise WBCSD on the development of the tool. "The tool is not an end to itself, but rather the beginning of a much deeper understanding of the water situation in local business communities."

A company using the tool will be able to determine how many of its sites are currently at risk from water scarcity, both now and in the future; how many of its employees and suppliers are in water-scarce regions; calculate the water consumption and efficiency across global operations; establish the water risks in its portfolio; and create Global Reportin Initiative indicators, inventories and risk metrics for water use.

The tool consists of two parts: a Microsoft Excel-based input sheet and an online mapping tool. After listing its water use figures, a company using the tool will automatically receive water usage and metrics data that show its global water use and will also break the data down by country and watershed.

Using the online map tool, a company can compare the water data from its sites to comprehensive information on water resources that was compiled from sources including the World Resources Institute, the University of New Hampshire's Water Systems Analysis Group, the Joint Monitoring Program of the WHO and UNICEF, and the United Nations' Aquastat database.

The project was developed by the WBCSD's Water Working Group with help from an advisory board made of 22 member companies, including ITT, CH2M Hill, Alcan, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Kimberly Clark, PepsiCo, Rio Tinto, Shell and Unilever. The Global Water Tool is available online at wbcsd.org/web/watertool.htm.