Strengthening water stewardship and water-related performance is dependent on having meaningful corporate-level water targets and metrics that are based on science and context. Targets should address quantity, quality and impact dimensions and be fully disclosed, whilst metrics should provide actionable insight on specific performance areas.
Many corporate-level water targets focus on absolute water withdrawals, use and consumption and effluent discharge. The challenge with such targets is that they fail to capture the diversity of temporal, spatial and other contextual issues that influence water quality, quantity, and value. This results in water-related risks not being fully captured and impacts being externalized, with other stakeholders taking on the burden. Bringing a context- and science- based approach to target setting ensures that they are relevant, robust and drive the right actions to manage and mitigate risks. Standardized metrics that address specific performance areas, such as reuse and recycling, will support more robust decision making for practices, technologies and investments that drive performance improvements.
Establishing well-informed and meaningful targets can drive the direction and pace of water stewardship activities among businesses. A metric for water circularity, for example, will enable a transition to circular water management that drives water efficiencies at scale. Water targets and circularity metrics also provide useful information to key stakeholders, such as investors, enabling better decision-making.
We are collaborating with BIER (Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable) and the WBCSD Factor 10 project to develop, test and support the application of guidance on water circularity metrics for industry to enable leading water users to compare the water circularity performance of facilities in a quantifiable way and monitor the transition from linear to circular water management. We are also engaging in the Science Based Targets Network initiative on nature, where freshwater is one of the earth systems covered.