CEO Water Mandate issues final Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines
The UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate initiative has released the finalized Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines, a common model used by companies to effectively and intelligibly disclose the various elements of their corporate water management practice to key stakeholders.
OAKLAND, CA, Oct. 8, 2014 -- The UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate initiative recently released the finalized Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines -- a common model used by many companies to effectively and intelligibly disclose the various elements of their corporate water management practice to key stakeholders. Launched in 2007 by the UN Secretary-General, the CEO Water Mandate is overseen by the UN Global Compact and implemented in partnership with the Pacific Institute.
Over the last several years, a proliferation of different water assessment and disclosure metrics and tools has become available. This array of tools and framework has been helpful in many respects, but has also resulted in significant confusion over what is valuable and meaningful to disclose and reporting that is often not comparable from company to company and year to year.
The Guidelines -- developed in collaboration with CDP, Global Reporting Initiative, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and World Resources Institute -- aim to harmonize reporting approaches, ultimately minimizing reporting burdens so that companies can spend more time actively managing water. This work is the product of a multi-year, highly-collaborative effort, informed not only by project partners with expertise in water resources and corporate reporting, but also by business representatives, civil society organizations and UN agencies.
"Sustainable water management and advancing a common approach to disclosure begins with agreeing on what we're talking about in terms of water scarcity, stress and risk," said Gavin Power, deputy director of the UN Global Compact and head of the CEO Water Mandate. "These guidelines give us a starting point for common understanding, which the Mandate can build on, and points to the potential for and importance of coordination and alignment among the various initiatives addressing corporate water stewardship."
Lead Author Peter Schulte of the Pacific Institute added, "The Guidelines accomplish two necessary objectives: advance metrics and qualitative approaches that provide meaningful information about corporate water practice, and drive convergence among company reporting so that they are more comparable and easier for report audiences to understand. The collaborative, iterative process in which they were developed also help to ensure the guidance is accessible and feasible for companies, while remaining meaningful for their stakeholders."
A key point that came to light in the development of the Guidelines was the need for a common understanding of the terms used to describe geographic locations with water challenges. To promote meaningful information and disclosure, the terms "water scarcity," "water stress," and "water risk" -- often used interchangeably -- have been precisely defined and incorporated in the Guidelines. Nine organizations in the water stewardship field collaborated to agree on these common definitions published in the accompanying water-related terminology discussion paper.
"The private sector is increasingly investing in water-efficient technologies, working with suppliers to encourage more responsible water use, designing cleaner and more efficient products that in turn help consumers lower their water use, and seeking to advance sustainable water management outside their fence lines as a way to mitigate water-related risks and negative impacts," said Project Director Jason Morrison, director of the Pacific Institute Corporate Sustainability Program. "Disclosure has emerged as a key component of corporate water management practice, and our outreach has shown that many companies are looking for detailed guidance on how to do it most effectively."
In response to the growing importance to businesses of water management and water disclosure more specifically, the Guidelines address the ways companies measure their water performance; assess conditions in the river basins where they operate; understand their water-related risks, impacts and opportunities; develop effective water management strategies; and communicate these issues to stakeholders.
Accordingly, the Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines are designed to be applicable to a broad range of corporate water users and to capture the complex and location-specific nature of water resource dynamics and corporate action. Companies that are looking for detailed guidance on how to more effectively disclose the many elements of corporate water management will also find response strategies in the Guidelines to address the risks, opportunities and impacts that come to light in their assessment.
The Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines report and links to the terminology paper and web-based platform can be found at www.ceowatermandate.org/disclosure. The Guidelines are available as a PDF report and web-based tool.
About the CEO Water Mandate
Launched in July 2007 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the CEO Water Mandate is a public-private initiative designed to assist companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices. Led by the United Nations Global Compact in partnership with the Pacific Institute, the CEO Water Mandate offers a unique action platform to share best and emerging practices and to forge multi-stakeholder partnerships to address the problems of access to water and sanitation. The CEO Water Mandate has been endorsed by 120 companies from a range of industries and sectors. For more information, visit www.ceowatermandate.org.
About the Pacific Institute
The Pacific Institute, a Co-Secretariat of the CEO Water Mandate since the inception of the initiative, 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, global warming, and environmental injustice. For more information, visit www.pacinst.org.