Business in the Community (BITC)’s Water Taskforce has called for companies to improve their usage of water and recognise the benefits of taking action through six key steps.
The Water Taskforce, established last year, includes a number of Government agencies, water utilities and multinationals such as Nestlé and Sainsbury’s.
It aims to tackle such issues as overconsumption, water scarcity, water quality and resilience to flooding and drought caused by climate change.
With 2014 marking the hottest year since records began, severe weather events and water crises are among the ten biggest global risks in 2015 according to the World Economic Forum.
The Water Taskforce’s new report, Water: Securing the Resource for Future Prosperity, highlights the water challenges faced by the UK and coincides with the launch of a three-year action plan to help businesses improve their water management and efficiency.
The report outlines six key steps for action:
- Understand your relationship with water: identify where water is used in the value chain, where it is sourced and what potential risks this represents
- Create a plan of action: establish a water policy and prioritise action in areas that will have the most impact
- Manage your direct water use: reduce water usage in operations by investing in new technologies, changing production processes, maximising reuse and recycling or identifying alternative sources
- Manage your indirect water use: work with suppliers and customers to share good practice and raise awareness
- Build resilience to flooding and water shortages: prepare for periods of too much water, and too little, to ensure impact on business is minimised during instances of flooding or drought
- Collaborate at a local level on sustainable water quality management: look for opportunities to collaborate and partner with others to ensure local water quality remains high.
‘Best practice is crucial’
Dan Rogerson, water minister, said: “Across the country, many individual businesses are doing great things to help protect water quality and the environment.
“We believe businesses working together and sharing best practice is crucial to encourage others to do the same.
Increasing business value
Steve Mogford, chief executive at United Utilities, added: “Businesses, within and outside the water industry, increasingly recognise the importance of using water more efficiently and becoming more resilient to water shortages and flooding.
“They also recognise the opportunities and business value brought by action. Taking action is essential for our long-term prosperity and the longer businesses wait, the greater the costs of catching up.”
According to a report published in November 2014 by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), over two-thirds of FTSE 500 companies are exposed to water risks, almost half of which are expecting an impact on operations within the next three years.