Firms take up water agendaDecember 2010
The world’s largest corporations have moved quickly to work up CSR strategies on water, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) first report on the impact of water constraints.
Water scarcity has only been flagged up as a major corporate responsibility issue over the past couple of years, but the CDP reports that corporate action has already been swift.
Returns to questionnaires sent out as part of the CDP’s Water Disclosure Project show water security is already high on the corporate agenda, with two-thirds of respondents reporting that responsibility for water-related issues lies at the board or executive committee level.
Most (89 per cent) have developed specific water policies, strategies and plans, and 60 per cent have set water-related performance targets.
Many businesses say water concerns are looking increasingly immediate. More than half of responding companies that reported exposure to water risks classified them as current or near-term – one to five years. Two-fifths of companies said they were already experiencing water impacts such as disruption to operations from drought or flooding, plus declining water quality and water price increases.
Only half of companies, however, are able to tell whether they are exposed to water risks in their supply chains, as compared with 96 per cent having high levels of awareness in their own operations.
Nearly 150 companies reported to the CDP out of the 302 approached, all of which were among the world’s 500 largest corporations. The information was requested on behalf of 137 institutional investors representing $16 trillion (£10.2tn, €12.1tn) in assets. Their aim was to increase transparency on water scarcity and other water issues.
The CDP said: ‘The strong response rate in this inaugural year is indicative of the high level of importance being placed on water by global corporations.’
However, Gregory Wade, chief supply chain officer for multinational brewer Molson Coors, a lead sponsor of the CDP Water Disclosure project, said companies should begin their own disclosure regimes, rather than waiting for the CDP to ask for information. ‘They must take responsibility for their own transparency,’ he said.
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