Overview: Water Stewardship Strategy and Implementation Capabilities
Increased global competition for water represents both risks and opportunities for businesses. This increase in competition for water is the result of a physical scarcity of water, declining water quality, and growing demand for water in the agricultural, industrial and residential sectors. For many global businesses a water stewardship strategy is increasingly critical as a way to effectively manage brand and reputation, license to operate, business continuity and as a driver for innovation.
Companies are developing water stewardship strategies to identify potential risk at the enterprise level (i.e., direct water use and use across the entire value chain) as well as the product level (i.e., embedded water and virtual water) and to uncover potential business opportunities in the form of new products and services. These water stewardship strategies typically recognize the various aspects of water including geographic, social, cultural, timing and quality attributes. Unlike greenhouse gas emissions, one unit of water is not equal to another – water withdrawn in an arid region has very different impacts and associated risks from water withdrawn in a wet region. Simply stated, carbon is fungible and water is not. Further, the specified volume of water can be less important than the timing of its use.
Because of water’s geographic and timing-specific attributes, companies strive to translate water footprint data (across their entire value chain) into actual water impacts and risks. With this risk evaluation also comes the identification of potential new business opportunities. The impacts of a company’s water use may vary greatly depending on how water is used in the company’s direct operations and value chain, where the most significant water use is located, and the quality of water needed or discharged, as well as local hydrological, social, economic, and regulatory factors.
Key issues for businesses related to water use can include:
- Enterprise-wide direct and indirect water use footprint;
- Water embedded in products and virtual water;
- License to operate;
- Business continuity;
- Brand value and reputation;
- Stakeholder engagement;
- Reporting and disclosure;
- The energy-carbon-water nexus; and
- Water scarcity as a driver for innovation in products and services.
Deloitte has experience and a wide range of capabilities in various aspects of water stewardship to assist clients in their efforts to identify risks and help create new business opportunities. Deloitte’s global enterprise water strategy services are designed to help clients address:
- Data acquisition, management and analytics;
- Quantification of enterprise wide water footprint and embedded water for products;
- Risk mapping and mitigation (physical, regulatory, and reputation-related);
- Development and implementation of water management strategies;
- Integration of energy, carbon and water strategies and programs;
- Stakeholder mapping and engagement;
- Identification of water technologies and business opportunities;
- Water supply and treatment technology selection;
- Economics and pricing;
- Evaluation of the impact of water on brand value and reputation; and
- Reporting and disclosure.
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