Companies and investors are being offered an improved version of a popular online tool that helps them measure water risks and impacts across the globe. The Water Risk Filter, which was first released by World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2012, has been updated to provide water consumption information on more than 120 agricultural commodities – including cotton and palm oil – as well as water data sets for 231 countries and territories.
The free tool, which allows the mapping of water use in a company’s own operations, across its supply chain, and during product use, has so far been taken up by more than 1500 organisations and has been used to assess around 50,000 individual facilities.
WWF will be encouraging companies to display the filter results on their websites to provide stakeholders with a better understanding of where their water risks lie and how significant they are. The results can also be used to help businesses complete the CDP’s water questionnaire.
The Water Risk Filter, which was developed in collaboration with the German development bank Deutsche Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG), comes up with a score for each company based on various factors, including its geographic location, the sector it is in, and the regulatory framework it has to operate within. It then provides advice on water mitigation strategies based on the score. Hundreds of facilities or commodity-specific operations can be bulk uploaded at one time, and companies can now complete a questionnaire to provide more detailed feedback.
Jochem Verberne, head of corporate relations at WWF International, said the enthusiastic uptake of the filter in its first two years suggests ‘a real convergence of the business agenda and the conservation agenda’ on water. ‘Companies and investors are beginning to understand that their futures depend on water, and that this creates business risk,’ he said. Water crises ranked third among 10 global risks of highest concern in 2014, according to the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risks Perception Survey.
The PRI is in the early stages of an engagement focused on improving the management of water risks in company supply chains. Global listed companies in the food, beverage and textile sector, who are significant users of water, are the target of this engagement. More information about current PRI engagements is available here.