5 Water Assessment Tools to Mitigate Risk and Aid in a Sustainable Supply Chain

image: risk in supply chainA growing focus on sustainable supply chain management over the past few years has proven to be a big opportunity for many businesses.  With traditional procurement strategies primarily focused on cost savings through vendor reduction, leverage spend, inventory reductions, transaction efficiencies, a shifting sustainability mindset is elevating supply chain thinking.  Stakeholder expectations have called for greater transparency, specifically increasing risks from lesser known and managed environmental sources like water.  

Today, more strategically-focused organizations are evaluating business sustainability risks that extend beyond the walls of the company.   

•    Globalization has extended the once arm’s length supply to sources from around the world, in many cases decreasing process control.

•    Proposed regulatory measures imposed by government entities is raising awareness of carbon emissions and other waste streams.

•    Increasing eco awareness and shifting expectations among consumers is creating market risk for many traditional businesses.

•    Supply side capacity constraints on sustainable supply could make it more difficult to meet demand requirements.

To manage the risk, business sustainability leaders are utilizing environmental business intelligence to define and manage supply chain inputs and processes outputs.  As an output of World Water Week, we leverage the post Five Water Assessment Tools to Be Reckoned With to organizations to better understand what emerging water issues might mean for them, given their operations, needs, and circumstances. 

  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.


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