Corporate Water Stewardship: Achieving a Sustainable Balance
Globally, corporations and industry are seeking to secure access to sufficient quantities of water to meet current and future needs in a socially, economically and environmentally responsible way in the midst of an unfolding global water crisis with risks that transcend communities, industry and the environment. Through a business case centered on sustainability performance, risk management and productivity and through implementation of a strategic framework based on a water mass balance at the enterprise level, industry can take actions that support restoration of a sustainable water balance at the community and watershed levels while also generating business value for that particular enterprise. Within this framework, the volume of consumptive water use is used to establish the target water volume that an enterprise would balance through implementation of community water partnerships (CWP) that provide water access and sanitation, watershed restoration and protection, and water for productive use benefits. Quantification of CWP project benefits is achieved either through metering or standard methods known and accepted by the engineering, conservation, and social science professions. A 100% sustainable balance is achieved when an enterprise implements a portfolio of locally relevant CWPs that collectively produce an annual volumetric benefit equivalent to the annual volume of consumptive water use for that particular enterprise. This approach can also support efforts by industries that seek to operate in a manner consistent with the United Nations resolution regarding the human right to water and sanitation, as well as those that may seek certification under emerging global water stewardship standards.