Corporate Leaders to Map Water Risks

The increasing frequency of water-related events – from extreme droughts across the southwestern US to flooding in central China – provide vivid examples of the potential impacts of water on people, businesses, and local infrastructure.

To assess and respond to the increasing global water risks, the World Resources Institute (WRI) is launching the Aqueduct Alliance, a consortium of water experts from the private and public sectors, NGOs, and academia.

Founded by WRI, Goldman Sachs and General Electric, the alliance includes Bloomberg, Dow Chemical, Talisman Energy, United Technologies and Coca-Cola. Coke is giving the group access to its extensive proprietary database of water risks to support Aqueduct’s work.

At the heart of Aqueduct Alliance is a global database of water risk information that will enable companies, investors, governments, and others to create water risk maps with an unprecedented level of detail and resolution. The maps generated by Aqueduct combine advanced hydrological data with geographically-specific indicators that capture the social, economic, and governance factors that affect companies and economies.

Robust risk assessment is the foundation for developing strategic water resource management plans at the business, watershed, and municipal levels.

"This publicly-available and transparent database will inform private sector efforts to reduce its water footprint in high risk areas, and create an impetus for public sector leaders to enter into dialogues with a range of stakeholders that will ultimately lead to more equitable, efficient, and sustainable water resources management in water-stressed basins," the Alliance says.

In a survey of 150 large corporations conducted by CDP Water Disclosure, nearly 40% of responding companies indicate they have already experienced disruptions in operations, increases in expenses, and other detrimental impacts related to water.

Against a backdrop of rapid population growth and climate change, government entities charged with managing water resources are also increasingly concerned with water-related disruptions and seeking viable approaches for mitigating risks.

"Businesses and governments are increasingly concerned with water-related risks, which can negatively impact profitability and continued economic growth," says Kirsty Jenkinson, Director of WRI’s Markets and Enterprise Program. "Aqueduct will provide accurate, high quality information together with a platform for businesses and governments to address water risks beyond physical water scarcity, including regulatory and socioeconomic risks."

WRI has developed a working prototype of the database and risk mapping tool, covering the Yellow River Basin in northern China. It will soon launch an interactive web platform that includes global and basin-specific maps and information on water related risks.

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