Accelerating business accountability in support of global water security

How to support business in meeting ambitious freshwater commitments and align disclosures with emerging frameworks and standards. 

Published: 16 Mar 2023
Type: News

Geneva, 16 March 2023: In collaboration with Quantis, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) announces a new effort to accelerate corporate freshwater accountability following the release of the business guidance to accelerate nature-positive action during the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15 last December. This work will support companies to deliver on ambitious freshwater commitments and ensure disclosures are aligned with emerging frameworks and standards.  

In December, as part of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the inclusion of inland waters in the final text has given renewed impetus toward protecting and restoring freshwater biodiversity. This raises the expectation for business to play their part: to set ambitious freshwater targets, accelerate basin-level action and be held accountable for their commitments, progress and impact.  

We are starting to see the core elements of an accountability system coming together: Science Based Targets for nature (the first release due later in 2023, will include freshwater methods) will provide the basis for target setting ; well-established standards, such as the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard provide a globally applicable framework for the private sector to work towards sustainable water management within a basin context ; and frameworks such as the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) will guide companies to disclose water-related information as it relates to climate and nature risks and opportunities respectively.  

Streamlining application guidance for businesses is needed to help them use the various frameworks and standards for setting water targets and disclosing water-related information. The Freshwater Accountability Accelerator aims to address this need through: 

  • The development of a harmonized user journey for freshwater accounting, target-setting, disclosure, assurance and communication (synthesized information from leading frameworks)
  • The clarification of data requirements and choice of water accounting and risk indicators and metrics
  • Technical support to companies on operationalizing the guidance.

“Our global water resources are at great risk, and so are businesses that depend and impact on them. The Freshwater Accountability Accelerator will aim to provide companies with a streamlined journey to identify pressing water challenges across their value chains. It will also support them with setting ambitious targets to operate within local planetary boundaries and reporting back on actions that contribute to global water security as much as their own business continuity and resilience. “ Tatiana Fedotova, Water Global Lead at Quantis      

On 22-24 March, the global water community will gather in New York for the first UN Conference dedicated to water in nearly 50 years. The conference is critical for turning the tides on ensuring long-term water security, as we continue to witness the impacts of floods, droughts and pollution on societies and business operations. The organizers have called for clear commitments, pledges and actions from all sectors to be included in the Water Action Agenda, as the key outcome of the conference. To find out how WBCSD will get involved at the UN Water Conference 2023, visit the page.

If you are a WBCSD member and want to know more about the Freshwater Accountability Accelerator, contact Una Harcinovic 

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