Sustainable Water Management: The Tide is Turning

Chemical makers increasingly focus on water-related risks and opportunities

By Cate Lamb, Carbon Disclosure Project

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Some notable initiatives include:

Praxair is using the WBCSD Global Water Tool to build a picture of water stress or abundance both now and over the next 15 years. It plans to use the findings as a basis to improve water management and reporting across the entire company.

Israel Chemicals has established an "ecological tax" — an intra-organizational tool that adds effluent treatment costs onto the total price of a product. This provides an incentive for production managers to reduce the quantity of pollutants and effluents at the source in addition to acting as a tool for estimating the "environmental" price of each product.

Taking collective actions to address water-related issues is becoming more popular. Chemical industry respondents are beginning to realize that no single company can address some of the underlying water challenges. So, for example, DuPont is taking part in the Aqueduct project of the World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C. This project's objective is to "equip and motivate companies operating in water-stressed regions to minimize their water consumption and other impacts, drive markets for environmentally sound hydro technologies, and advance economic development without threatening freshwater resources in their communities."

Meanwhile, Syngenta, recognizing the challenges it faces in offering timely advice on optimum agronomy solutions for crops to farmers spread over large, sometimes remote, areas, has teamed up with Nokia. "Syngenta has been working with Nokia LifeTools to set up an easy-to-use, graphical interface that works anywhere on Nokia cell phones. With this wireless application, Syngenta can provide growers with crop-specific tips on pest and disease management."

Water is a critical resource for the chemical industry. So, chemical companies should engage in water-stewardship initiatives to mitigate risks and seize business opportunities. Many companies are reducing their exposure to water-related risks and, in partnership, identifying ways in which water-related issues can positively impact performance. Disclosing water-related information is an important step in water stewardship and water-related value creation.

Disclosing water-related information has the potential to create value and mitigate operational, regulatory and reputational risks. CDP's water questionnaire is sent to the world's largest companies in sectors that have the greatest potential to impact or be impacted by water resource issues globally. The organization continues to expand its global reach and currently targets companies from these sectors that are in the FTSE Global Equity Index Series (the 500 largest companies globally), the S&P 500 (the 500 largest U.S. companies), the ASX 100 (the 100 largest Australian companies) and the JSE 100 (the 100 largest South African companies). All companies are welcome to respond whether or not they appear on these rosters. Please contact to register as a voluntary discloser. Deadline for 2013 disclosure is June 27.

CATE LAMB is head, CDP Water Disclosure, for the Carbon Disclosure Project, London. E-mail her at

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