Common Approach to Water Reporting Critical to Sustainable Water Management
August 6, 2013, New York: When the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate released the Public Exposure Draft of its Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines last year, it provided the first ever common approach to corporate water disclosure. Now that businesses, organizations, and communities have had a chance to digest and test these Guidelines, the Mandate is conducting an online survey to determine how they have been working in practice and what areas need refining for greater effectiveness.
Corporate water disclosure is a critical component of a company’s water management efforts – and of water sustainability all around. The CEO Water Mandate continues to develop Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines to help advance a common approach to disclosure that addresses the complexity of water resources in a comprehensive yet concise and practical manner. The Mandate is now working to garner feedback on the Public Exposure Draft in order refine and finalize the Guidelines in early 2014. Water disclosing companies and their external audiences are encouraged to help improve and shape the Guidelines by taking the survey, which is open to all; anonymous submissions are allowed.
Corporate water disclosure involves collecting and reporting data on the current state of a company’s water management practices, assessing the implications of this information for the business, developing a strategic response, and ultimately reporting this information to key stakeholders: investors, NGOs, consumers, communities, suppliers, employees, and others.
“Companies around the world are finding corporate water disclosure is a critical aspect of their water management strategies and stewardship efforts,” said Gavin Power, Deputy Director the UN Global Compact and head of the CEO Water Mandate. “But as more and more companies report water-related information, it is clear that many are doing so in ways that are inconsistent from company to company and from year to year. The Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines offer a framework that encourages more comparable and robust corporate water reporting.”
The survey questions seek to garner feedback on a number of different aspects of the Guidelines, with an aim of determining whether the Guidelines capture the right topics of water-related information that companies should aspire to report, and whether they offer helpful guidance to assist companies’ disclosure efforts.
“Meaningful disclosure is a crucial step toward more sustainable and equitable management of water resources, both for a company itself and for the communities and watersheds it is part of,” said Jason Morrison of the Pacific Institute, who serves as the Technical Director of the CEO Water Mandate. “Effective transparency fosters accountability, allows consumers and investors to make informed decisions, and improves relationships with stakeholders at every level. The survey is a key part of the process of providing the most useful guidelines possible.”
The CEO Water Mandate Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines support businesses’ water-related performance in many ways, from improving a company’s understanding of its water challenges and effective responses, to providing an opportunity to demonstrate progress and good practice to external stakeholders, to establishing a dialogue and building credibility with key stakeholders – paving the way for future partnerships and achievement of shared water-related goals. They are applicable to a broad range of corporate water users and capture the complex and location-specific nature of water resources and related corporate action.
“We look forward to analyzing and addressing the feedback we receive on the survey,” said Power. “Companies that are using this detailed guidance, as well as the audiences they report to, are the best sources of ideas to enhance the output of this important CEO Water Mandate project.”
The survey can be accessed at www.surveymonkey.com/s/5TY52WP. The CEO Water Mandate Public Exposure Draft of the Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines can be downloaded free of charge from the CEO Water Mandate website at www.ceowatermandate.org and on the Pacific Institute website at www.pacinst.org/publication/corporate-water-disclosure-guidelines/.
The CEO Water Mandate’s Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines were developed in collaboration with the Pacific Institute, CDP, PricewaterhouseCoopers, World Resources Institute, and Global Reporting Initiative.
The United Nations Global Compact is a both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption, and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With 7,000 corporate signatories in 135 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative. www.unglobalcompact.org
The Pacific Institute is one of the world’s leading independent nonprofits conducting research to create a healthier planet and sustainable communities. Based in Oakland, California, the Institute conducts interdisciplinary research and partners with stakeholders to produce solutions that advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity. The Pacific Institute works to change policy and find real-world solutions to problems like water shortages, habitat destruction, climate change, and environmental injustice. www.pacinst.org