More and more corporations have come to realize that their economic survival relies on nature, and a growing number are investigating market-based tools for meeting the looming global water challenge. Many of these tools are on display at World Water Week, which runs through Saturday in Stockholm, Sweden. 20 August 2009 |STOCKHOLM | A growing number of voices from the corporate world are calling for new thinking and positive action on global water-related challenges and their impact on the environment, human health, and the economy with attention to poverty – all under the umbrella of adaptation to climate change. That, at least, is the message being hammered home at World Water Week, which is taking place here through Saturday. What was once the domain of a company's corporate social responsibility program is now a strategic business concern, and more and more corporates are re-examining the role that water resource inputs play in their production cycle and turning to new tools such as water 'footprinting,' which are helping businesses evaluate and address risks throughout the entire supply chain of water-intense products such as beverages, food and clothing. The Water Footprint Network (WFN), a Dutch non-profit foundation, is an international network of partners who are interested in water resource management. It was formed to promote sustainable, fair and efficient use of fresh water resources, and has created tools to help individuals, businesses and governments evaluate their direct and indirect water use of water. The idea is that by increasing understanding of water consumption and the impacts on fresh-water systems, individual behavior or management systems can adapt to better offset both risk and ecological impacts. WFN members SABMiller and WWF have been working together to establish water footprints of the beer value chain in South Africa and the Czech Republic. The effort focused on water supply issues, but in the case of the Czech Republic, the report shows that quality issues can also be identified using the footprinting tools. In a special session titled: “Water Footprint: A New Entry Point for Water Policy and Corporate Water Strategy,” Coca-Cola highlighted the water footpringing efforts of one of its most recognized products: the half-liter plastic bottle of Coke Classic. Denise Knight, Water Sustainability Manager for the Coca Cola Company, gave an overview of the footpriting process as part of the company's overall water stewardship journey. By improving water use by 20% by 2012, Coke and its bottling partners aim to be the most efficient users of water among peer companies. Coke's overall water conservation goals are based on a REDUCE, RECYCLE REPLENISH strategy and informed by their operational water footprint. Similarly, SABMiller recognized a need to incorporate responsible water use throughout their operations and encourage their suppliers to do the same. They set a target of reducing water use per litre of beer by 25% by 2015. Throughout the week, in addition to water footprinting, other business-themed seminars and reports are highlighting the many new initiatives targeting corporate engagement in water stewardship. The CEO Water Mandate is a public-private UN initiative launched in 2007 to help companies develop, implement and disclose water sustainability policies and practices. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have also used the event to launch a new report, “Water for Business: Initiatives Guiding Sustainable Water Management in the Private Sector.” The report is a guide to the different assessment tools, approaches and methodologies being used to support sustainable water management and aims to help build a common language in support of water stewardship schemes across the sector. On Wednesday, the 2009 Stockholm Industry Water Award was given to Trojan Technologies of Canada. Based in Ontario, Canada, Trojan produces UV disinfection systems for industrial applications, municipal water and wastewater treatment, commercial integration, residential use, and elimination of environmental contaminants from wells and other sources of drinking water, including reused water. Trojan has led the worldwide drive for commercial, engineering, and regulatory acceptance of the technology as an environmentally sound alternative to traditional chlorine-based water treatment with installed systems at more than 5800 facilities in more than 80 countries. Celebrating its 10th anniversary during this year's event, the Stockholm Industry Water Award honors contributions by business and industry that improve the global water situation through improved performance in production processes, new products, and management, as well as innovations in water and wastewater process technologies. It was established in 2000 by the Stockholm Water Foundation in collaboration with the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The award program is administered by the Stockholm International Water Institute, which serves as host and organizer of World Water Week. Tracy Stanton is the Water Program Manager of the Ecosystem Marketplace. She can be reached at tstanton(at)ecosystemmarketplace.com. Please see our Reprint Guidelines for details on republishing our articles.
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