Water is life. Without water there would not be life on Earth. We all depend on water – people, business and ecosystems. At the same time, people and business also impact water. We use it without realizing its real value and often take the resource itself and the services it provides for granted. Water availability is increasingly limited. Globally, water resources are constant, but if current trends continue, water demand is predicted to increase by 55% worldwide between 2000 and 2050, with some industries increasing much more, such as manufacturing by 400% and electricity production by 140% (OECD, 2012). Water resources will not allow for such growth without an increase in the productivity of water use. Business as usual is simply not an option and reversing this trend is imperative.
How? We need to stop wasting and mismanaging water. The unsustainable use of water can be partly attributed to the fact that we do not pay the full cost of using it. This may be due to subsidies or because we do not account for the societal costs linked to its use. This is where business can play a positive role. Companies impact and depend upon water. By looking at the value of the water they use in their operations, they can better inform management actions and limit wasteful practices.
This publication, Water Valuation: Building the business case, aims to demonstrate the business case for companies to engage in water valuation and is supported by a review of 21 business case studies that illustrate why and how different companies have carried out water valuation. It is a first response to Vision 2050, a WBCSDreport that lays out a pathway leading to a world where 9 billion people live well, within the limits of the planet, by 2050 (WBCSD, 2010). Water Valuation: Building the business case paves the path towards the integration of true water values and true water costs into decision-making.