There are emerging signals, some strong,
some faint, that the business case is building for companies
to develop more coordinated and forward-looking water strategies.
Water costs are increasing, business disruption risks are
growing, and stakeholders are becoming more concerned about
companies water-related performance. Global demand for
freshwater continues to grow, while many water sources are
showing signs of stress such as rising pollutant levels or
withdrawal rates that exceed replenishment rates. While these
trends do not affect all companies and geographic regions
equally, these signals are likely to grow stronger in the
coming years. Companies that understand the trends shaping
the global business environment will be better positioned
to identify new market opportunities, mitigate risk, develop
sustainable water strategies, and create shareholder value.
Freshwater availability and quality are
not just issues for business. Perhaps more than any other
issue, freshwater stands out as a sustainability challenge.
Businesses, communities, and ecosystems everywhere depend
on clean freshwater to survive and prosper. When water needs
in one areaeconomic, social, or environmentalbecome
threatened, the risks to all increase.
Balancing competing water needs requires
creative, collaborative, and coordinated management. Companies
need to think in new ways, listen closely to critical customers,
and innovate. Water resources can be managed more efficiently
within the factories, fields, and other places where businesses
operate. Businesses are finding benefits in taking steps beyond
their fence lines to address water challenges. Partnerships
with local communities, investments in source water protection,
and supply chain initiatives offer promising results. In addition,
significant business opportunity lies in assuring that people,
ecosystems, agriculture, and industry have sufficient access
to clean freshwater into the future. Those companies that
listen to the signals and find ways to meet global and local
water sustainability needs will increasingly create shareholder
value and competitive advantage.
GEMIs Water Sustainability Work Group
has developed this tool to help you better understand and
guide your own organizations relationship to water.
The five steps, or modules, in this tool assist you to identify
water-related opportunities and risks, determine the business
case for action, and engage your organizationwhether
it is a department, facility, or companyin developing
and implementing an effective water strategy. Case studies
demonstrate how several of our companies have reduced risk
and created significant business value through coordinated
action. Sections on common challenges, water trends, and perspectives
on water sustainability provide additional guidance and context.
GEMI has also developed a companion website (www.gemi.org/water)
with additional resources to help you use this tool.
As Ben Franklin wrote in Poor Richards
Almanac in 1746, When the well is dry, we learn the
worth of water. We believe it is within our collective
ability to design a future of opportunity in which the well
is full for all.
|Paul S. Halberstadt
||Harry J. Ott
The Coca-Cola Company
Water Sustainability Work Group