The manual breaks new ground by presenting a scientifically rigorous method to help companies understand their dependency and impact on global water resources, and offer guidance on response strategies that conserve water for industry, communities, and nature.
Businesses in all sectors are awakening to the risk that water scarcity poses to their bottom lines and reputations, and have been quick to note the value of water footprinting. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and C&A are using the water footprint assessment to:
set goals for reducing impacts to rivers and lakes
adopt corporate policies for reducing their water footprint
move toward sustainable water use.
“[The manual] has shed valuable light on the components and locations of water embedded in some of our key products,” said Greg Koch, managing director for global water stewardship at Coca-Cola. “This work provides a foundation for engaging our suppliers and partners as we continue our journey to establish a truly water sustainable business.”
Engaging with Clients, Supply Chains
The Water Footprint Assessment provides an opportunity for IFC to engage with clients and their supply chains in regions where water is scarce. IFC client Jain Irrigation was the first developing-country business to conduct this assessment, which led to a strategy to reduce its own water consumption and increase local water availability.
“Water is vital to business: poor water quality or insufficient supply can curtail – or even shut down – activities in business operations and in the supply chain,” said Monika Weber-Fahr, Global Business Line Leader of IFC’s Sustainable Business Advisory. “The method laid out in this manual fills an emerging and urgent business need for a means of understanding water consumption in operations and in the supply chain, assessing its sustainability, and devising effective response strategies."
IFC is a founding partner of WFN, a platform for private sector, academics, research institutions, international organizations, and NGOs interested in furthering research in this field. The manual, developed by WFN and its 139 partners, has garnered international support from major companies, policymakers, NGOs, and scientists as an important step toward solving the world's growing water challenges.
More broadly, IFC has been increasingly engaged in the global challenge of water scarcity as a founding member of the 2030 Water Resources Group. The group, which uses a fact-based approach and economical and analytical frameworks to advance solutions-driven dialogue among stakeholders and contribute to water sector transformation, consists of a range of organizations from the private and social sectors – including the World Economic Forum, the Asian Development Bank, and McKinsey & Company.
Contributed by Emmanouela Markoglou, Sustainable Business Advisory/Communications Practice Group