Think tank the World Resources Institute (WRI), in partnership with General Electric and Goldman Sachs, has launched an initiative to measure water-related risks facing companies and their investors. The initiative will develop a Water Index as a standardized approach to identify and mitigate water-related corporate risk.

The Index will offer one of the most expansive measures of water risks currently available. It will aggregate nearly 20 weighted factors capturing water availability, regulations, water quality and reputational issues.

The Index will allow companies and investors to transparently and adequately capture the various components of water-related risk and its creators hope it will enable business leaders to make well-informed investment decisions.

The Water Index will draw on publicly available data regarding physical scarcity and water quality and overlay important factors including the regulatory regime and social and reputational issues that have not previously been incorporated into water risk measurement. Ultimately, this mapping tool will allow users to combine and compare different components of the water risk assessment.

“In many regions around the world, water scarcity from climate change and pollution is starting to impact a company’s performance, yet few analysts account for water-related risks,” says Jonathan Lash, president of WRI. “WRI hopes that investors will begin ‘pricing in’ these under-appreciated risks, driving investments to support more hydrologically efficient designs and technologies.”

For more on water-related corporate risk, check out Water Canada’s January/February 2010 issue.


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