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Tool Sections: Overview Module 1 Module 2 Module 3 Module 4 Module 5
Module 3 Business Opportunity Assessment

Module Purpose

Module 3 assists tool users to identify water-related opportunities in two main areas and to answer the following questions:

  • What opportunities exist to proactively address costs and potential risks to the business associated with water use and impacts?
  • What opportunities exist to create “top line” business value by addressing water challenges faced by others?

The purpose of this module is to develop a range of options for responding to the water-related risks identified in Module 2. The ideas generated in this module will be considered and evaluated as the business develops a strategic direction and a water sustainability strategy in Modules 4 and 5.

Module Approach

Module 3 uses the water sustainability concepts as a framework for generating new ideas and opportunities to reduce “bottom line” risks and create “top line” business value. The concepts are drawn from the research of water sustainability experts and the innovative business responses to water challenges, as illustrated in the case studies in this tool. The concepts can be applied to each of the prioritized areas of risk identified in the current state assessment (Modules 1 and 2). For example, to reduce overall use of water, a company may launch a water conservation initiative at its production facilities. Alternatively, to address water quality challenges through prevention, and engage local stakeholders, a company may invest in local watershed conservation initiatives to help ensure a safe, clean, and reliable water supply in the locality in which the company has operations. For each identified risk, there are likely to be numerous opportunities for mitigation of the risk or costs.

Other concepts can be applied to the search for business opportunities that address the global and local water challenges experienced by others. Global water challenges can expand existing market opportunities and even create new ones. This module is designed to assist companies in identifying such opportunities.

Step 1




Identify“Bottom Line” Risk and Cost Reduction Opportunities

  • What actions can the business take to reduce the prioritized water-related business risks and costs in a manner consistent with the water sustainability concepts?

During this step, tool users are encouraged to draw from a number of different sources to develop a list of potential response actions for each significant risk identified in the current state assessment (Modules 1 and 2). The water sustainability concepts should be applied to each prioritized risk. For each risk, tool users may also want to categorize response actions into areas that require: 1) using new technologies, 2) adopting new practices, and 3) using incentives to motivate change in water use culture and behavior. The user may also want to organize a team to brainstorm a range of options. Certain actions, such as installation of meters, should be considered as an initial step, if more information is needed. Many opportunities to reduce water related impacts and risks are specific to certain industry sectors, operations, and processes.(1) There are numerous trade publications and industry-specific resources that include information on practices, technologies, and other techniques for addressing water use and impact issues. Case studies throughout this tool provide examples of innovative opportunities to conserve, reuse, and recycle water, as well as to reduce water impacts. GEMI has also developed a guidance document to help businesses understand the ways environmental activities can add business value.(2)

Step 2




Identify“Top Line” Value Creating Opportunities

  • What water-related products or services can be developed that may lead to increased market opportunities and revenues?
  • Are there opportunities to enhance corporate goodwill or safeguard the company’s “license to operate” by addressing broader community water needs?

Step 2 is designed to help an organization identify value-creating opportunities for addressing the water-related needs experienced by others.(3) Depending upon the organization’s core competencies, each organization may be able to identify areas in which it can create business value by addressing local and global water needs. Many companies are already developing new products and services that improve water quality. Others are developing products that use less water by consumers. Companies that follow evolving customer needs and expectations may find new market opportunities. Opportunities to provide indirect benefits can also be found through a more expansive view of a company’s critical customers. Tool users should consider water-related actions that address the concerns of communities, regulators, employees, and financial markets. This approach is likely to foster creative thinking about potential business opportunities linked to water sustainability.


Module Outputs

The options for mitigating risks and creating business value developed in Module 3 will be evaluated in the context of the strategic direction and goals established in Module 4.

Module 4