The United Nations Global Compact – an initiative encouraging sustainable and socially responsible policies for businesses worldwide – released its finalized Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines on September 30. The guidelines set out a common approach for businesses to disclose their water management practices to stakeholders.
“Sustainable water management and advancing a common approach to disclosure begins with agreeing on what we’re talking about in terms of water scarcity, stress, and risk,” said Gavin Power, the deputy director of the UN Global Compact and head of the CEO Water Mandate. “These guidelines give us a starting point for common understanding which the mandate can build on and points to the potential for and importance of coordination and alignment among the various initiatives addressing corporate water stewardship.”
With a wide variety of water assessment and disclosure practices currently available, the guidelines will address common ways for companies to measure their water performance; assess conditions in the river basins where they operate; understand their water-related risks, impacts, and opportunities; develop effective water management strategies; and communicate these issues to stakeholders.
“The private sector is increasingly investing in water-efficient technologies, working with suppliers to encourage more responsible water use, designing cleaner and more efficient products that in turn help consumers lower their water use, and seeking to advance sustainable water management outside their fencelines as a way to mitigate water-related risks and negative impacts,” said project director Jason Morrison, who is also the director of the Pacific Institute Corporate Sustainability Program. “Disclosure has emerged as a key component of corporate water management practice, and our outreach has shown that many companies are looking for detailed guidance on how to do it most effectively.”