Five Water Assessment Tools to Be Reckoned With

This year World Water Week fell on August 27th through the 30th, and in celebration Strategic Sustainability Consulting tuned in to the webinar Towards Sustainability: Harmonizing Corporate Water Tools for Better Governance. We got to hear from an international panel of representatives for some of the biggest sustainability organizations out there today including the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Water Footprint Network (WFN), Ceres, the World Wildlife Fund, DEG, and the UN CEO Water Mandate.

What were all of these organizations here to tell us? Well, the overall message was put into words perfectly by one of the opening speakers, Joppe Cramwinckel, who stated, “We are at a tipping point requiring an urgent and radical transformation.” One step, to act quickly before water scarcity becomes water insufficiency, is to implement water assessment tools into your company’s sustainability plan. These tools will drive the action it takes to make a “radical” improvement in water consumption.

  1. The first of the main water assessment tools that were heard about was the Ceres Aqua Gauge. This system approaches consumption holistically, and combats over usage by evaluating measurement, management, engagement, and disclosure. Designed to enable both rapid and more comprehensive analysis, the Aqua Gauge gives investors the option to assess the company against a short list – or “Quick Gauge” – of core management practices appropriate to the company’s risk profile as well as assessing a comprehensive set of corporate-level practices that provide a more detailed picture of the company’s water management approach.
  2. Together the WBCSD Global Tool and GEMI Local Water Tool™(LWT) are Excel-based programs which assess consumption on both a global and local scale. How many of your sites are in water-scarce areas? Which sites are at greatest risk? How will that look in the future? How many of your suppliers are in countries that lack access to improved water and sanitation? How much of your total production is generated from your most at risk sites? The WBCSD Global Tool will help you answer these questions and more. It does not provide specific guidance on local situations, which require more in-depth systematic analysis. The LWT is a free tool for companies and organizations to evaluate the external impacts, business risks, opportunities and management plans related to water use and discharge at a specific site or operation. So together, on a global level water reporting indicators and maps are created based upon thirty external data sets and on a local level impacts can be assessed using site-level metrics to create management plans.
  3. The Water Footprint Assessment Tool, although still in development, maps your water footprint relative to scarcity, pollution levels, and efficiency benchmarks all on a user friendly program. It will be a free online web application that assists users in water footprint quantification, sustainability assessment, and response formulation.
  4. The WRI Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas is another system which is open source, peer reviewed, and completely interactive. It consists of a global database and interactive mapping tool that enable companies to quantify and map water risks at a local scale, worldwide. It provides the user a total of twelve water risk indicators, and then aggregates results into physical, regulation, and reputational water risk scores. Another neat feature about this program is its ability to project changes in water stress based upon current trends.
  5. The WWF/DEG Water Risk Filter was the last tool to be covered in detail and revealed itself to be one of the more “beginner-friendly” tools. The assessment basis for this program includes physical risk, regulatory risk, and reputational risk, quite similar to the Water Risk Atlas mentioned earlier. The Water Risk Filter is designed to be easy to use, yet highly robust in the results that are generated.

After hearing the ins and outs about these programs no single tool can be placed above another in value. This means that your organization has a wide variety of water assessment tools to choose from, leaving no reason for water scarcity to be left out of your sustainability plan. For those of you who were unable to make it or would like to revisit some of these great World Water Week webinar, visit A new climate for business: Seeking profits in a shifting waterscape or Towards Sustainability: Harmonizing Corporate Water Tools for Better Governance now.  To find out more on World Water Week and to access webinar recordings for other events you might have missed, visit 2degrees for more information!