The Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) at the University of Saskatchewan is partnering with Ceres to develop a new global assessment. The assessment will take a comprehensive look at the major threats that unsustainable corporate practices pose to the global water supply.

“Despite an increased focus on water-related risks, companies and investors have not fully understood or addressed the far-reaching impacts of their own industry practices on our global water supply, or on their own portfolios,” said Kirsten James, director of water at Ceres.

GIWS will conduct science-based research and analysis on industry practices in water-intensive sectors that have led to increased water scarcity and pollution, and threatened ecosystems and accessibility in communities around the globe.

The global food agribusiness sector—which uses more than 70 per cent of the world’s fresh water to grow crops, feed livestock, and process ingredients—will be among those industries analyzed. The findings will be used to inform a new set of leading investor expectations for companies to improve their overall water stewardship in business operations and supply chains.

To ensure the research and analysis is relevant to capital market audiences, the effort will also be informed by the ongoing work of the Valuing Water Finance Task Force, a group of pension funds and commercial banks that launched last month. Ceres has partnered with the Government of Netherlands Valuing Water Initiative on this overall effort to catalyze capital market leaders to address water risk as a financial risk.

“Through our work with the Valuing Water Finance Task Force and GIWS, we will strengthen the science-driven business case for action steps to value water as a financial imperative and reduce impacts,” said James. “With a more comprehensive and clear understanding of water-related risks, investors can engage more effectively with companies and help to build more resilient global water resources and communities.”

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The global assessment report aims to build on Ceres’ research and engagement tools that have been brought to market to address water-related risks. This new global assessment will bring in more perspectives from the scientific and academic community and build on the trend that is being seen with investors wanting to better understand the comprehensive evidence that supports acting on these risks.

“Our partnership with Ceres represents a major opportunity to provide the latest water science for corporate and investor decision making,” said Jay Famiglietti, executive director of GIWS. “We simply cannot move the needle on global water security without buy-in from industry. Engaging with Ceres to produce the global assessment report may have profound implications for how industry views its role in water stewardship moving forward.”

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