Launched in 2007, the Global Water Tool (GWT) is a free and easy-to-use tool for companies and organizations to map their water use and assess risks relative to their global operations and supply chains.
More than twenty WBCSD members formed an advisory group, led by CH2M HILL, to develop and provide oversight and pilot testing of the GWT. Expertise was provided by The Nature Conservancy and the Global Reporting Initiative.
By comparing a company’s sites with the best available water, sanitation, population and biodiversity information on a country and watershed basis, the GWT allows to answer the following questions:
How many of my sites are in extremely water-scarce areas? Which sites are at greatest risk?
How much of my total production is generated from my most at risk sites?
How many of my employees live in countries that lack access to improved water and sanitation?
How many of my suppliers will be in water-stressed regions in 2050?
More than 300 corporations have used the tool which has been regularly updated with improved datasets and functionalities as well as customized to various industrial sectors. Adaptation to specific geographies is under development in India, Europe and China.
The tool consists of two parts:
1) An Excel workbook for site location and water use data entry which will generate a water inventory, reporting indicators (GRI, CDP Water, DJSI and Bloomberg), other risk and performance metrics.
2) An online mapping system enabling companies to plot their sites with external water datasets and download those locations in a map.
The tool is also linked to Google Earth which provides spatial viewing of a company’s site location in relation to detailed geographic information, including surface water and population density.
Key benefits expressed by the companies that have already taken advantage of the GWT
Establishes relative water risks in a company’s portfolio in order to prioritize action
Can be used in combination with other tools to aid decision-making such as a company’s internal environmental data tracking tool
Enables effective communication with both internal and external stakeholders
Assists with long term water management strategy and can be used as a strategic tool during the evaluation of new project developments
For companies facing the challenge of operating in multiple countries with very different water contexts, the Global Water Tool is really the first critical step in making water-informed decisions.
The GWT does not provide specific guidance on local situations. This requires more in-depth systematic analysis at the plant level. The GWT is not an end in itself, but rather the beginning of a much deeper understanding of the water situation in local communities.
That’s why, WBCSD Water collaborated with GEMI to develop The Local Water ToolTM (LWT) - a free tool for companies and organizations to evaluate the external impacts, business risks, opportunities and management plans related to water use and discharge at a specific site or operation.
These tools are designed to be compatible to enable users to achieve full value from use of both tools.
Read more about the GEMI LWT™