Valuing water means recognizing and considering all the benefits provided by water – including economic, social and ecological dimensions. In realizing these benefits, there is significant potential to trigger systemic change, with water valuation driving decision-making that protects freshwater sources and ensuring water allocation reaches its most productive, equitable and environmentally sustainable use and consumption.
By not fully valuing water, we jeopardize public health, ecological integrity, and economic development. In valuing water, we need to understand the multiple benefits it brings and the way in which various stakeholders impact and depend on water. For decades, across all regions the under-valuation of water has led to shortages, pollution and inequitable access.
Valuing water helps businesses understand their water impacts and dependencies, eventually informing their water stewardship approaches and leading to the internalization of water-related externalities. Businesses must value water to ensure business continuity, safeguard against future shocks and maintain their social license to operate.
There are many dimensions to valuing water, which we have captured through our collection of case studies that look at how business, from across different sectors, incorporate valuing water into decision making. Agricultural water use represents approximately 70% of all water withdrawals globally. Measuring and valuing the water-related impacts generated across the food system can help companies to pinpoint where action is most needed and communicate their true value creation and performance. Inspired by the True Value of Food initiative, we are developing a water impact protocol to encourage more consistent water-related impact valuation approaches by business.