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Last month, Ceres announced the publication of its inaugural benchmark report on corporate water stewardship practices covering 72 companies on the organization’s Valuing Water Finance Initiative focus list.

“The report assesses how these companies from four water-intensive industries including food, beverage, apparel, and hi-tech are performing against the six Corporate Expectations for Valuing Water, which set an ambition for companies to reach by 2030. The report’s key findings underscore a clear imperative: companies must accelerate their efforts to advance their water stewardship strategies…”

Ceres identified a number of trends, a few of which include:

  • Water quantity-related targets often fail to consider local watershed conditions
  • Water quality is largely overlooked in setting corporate water stewardship targets
  • Water risk assessments often lack local context
  • Most companies fail to assess water resource impacts resulting from their activities
  • Gaps remain in board oversight of water risks and governance incentives linked to water
  • Water risks in the value chain need to be sufficiently considered in business planning
  • Only a handful of companies use basic metrics for water pricing, and none assess the full value of water to their business and society  

Companies were ultimately classified into one of “four categories along the ambition spectrum: Starting the Journey, On the Way, On Track, and Leading the Way.” Ceres acknowleges that the results are “a snapshot in time of where a company sits along its water stewardship journey,” but I’m betting others will take the information out of that context.

It’s a good bet we’ll soon see the kind of attention paid to water that we see with climate right now. If you aren’t already doing so, treat corporate water use reporting and metrics with the same level of concern as climate data and disclosures.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile