Home Business Case Menu Water Trends Case Studies Overcoming Challenges Resources
Tool Sections: Overview Module 1 Module 2 Module 3 Module 4 Module 5
Tool Overview

GEMI has developed this website—the Water Sustainability Tool—to assist individual companies and other organizations to better understand what emerging water issues might mean for them, given their operations, needs, and circumstances. The tool is designed to help individual companies build a business water strategy. The tool encourages businesses to:

  • Conduct a systematic assessment of their relationship to water
  • Identify specific opportunities and risks associated with this relationship
  • Assess the business case for action
  • Tailor a water strategy that addresses specific needs and circumstances of the organization
  • Ensure that water-related opportunities and risks are tracked and managed effectively into the future using a continual improvement framework

The website contains a general discussion of the signals leading to a growing business case for pursuing coordinated, sustainable water strategies. It also includes background to help companies understand the water trends that are shaping the global business environment.

As companies begin to develop strategies to respond to water challenges, they may face common difficulties in moving forward on a sustainable path. This website also includes tips for overcoming misperceptions and public policy disincentives.

The Tool Roadmap

GEMI’s Water Sustainability Tool contains five core analytical stages, or modules. These include:

  • Module 1: Water Use, Impact, and Source Assessment
  • Module 2: Business Risk Assessment
  • Module 3: Business Opportunity Assessment
  • Module 4: Strategic Direction and Goal Setting
  • Module 5: Strategy Development and Implementation

Each of the five analytical modules includes specific steps that can help answer the key questions associated with each module (see the tool roadmap diagram below for an overview of the modules, key questions, and outputs). Each module is supplemented by helpful resources and brief case studies that highlight how companies have approached the analytical steps.

The Tool Roadmap
Click to enlarge in a new browser window

Modules are sequenced to assist users in evaluating the business case and developing a strategy to address water challenges.

The modules also can be used in an iterative manner. For example, the current state assessment modules (Modules 1 and 2) are designed to enable both a “first pass” assessment as well as a more detailed assessment that could be conducted at a later point. Users are encouraged to adapt this analytical framework to meet their company’s specific needs, taking into account steps that may have already been completed.

Focus on the Value Chain

Water opportunities and risks are emerging throughout companies’ value chains. For example, certain suppliers may be vulnerable to water supply availability risks that could impact a business’ costs or availability of key production inputs, from raw materials to energy. At the other end of the value chain, the use or final disposition of a company’s products or services could affect water resources in beneficial or detrimental ways. In order to help businesses consider upstream and downstream opportunities and risks related to water, this tool utilizes a five-stage value chain (or material flow chain). The value chain figure below presents the five value chain stages used for the current state assessment (Modules 1 and 2).


The Value Chain

Water Can Touch the Full Value Chain


The value chain approach is designed to help companies identify and assess water uses and impacts in places where they might not be immediately obvious. For example, water-related risks and opportunities may appear in raw material or production stages, linked with key process inputs and suppliers, or in later stages, associated with product use or final disposition. Companies may find that they rely upon or impact water in unexpected ways.

Module 1