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Water Management Requires Global Perspective, Local Solutions

This post is part of a series on World Water Week, an annual event designed to draw attention to and discuss global water issues. Read more posts in this series.

This piece was co-authored by Stuart Orr, Freshwater Manager, WWF. It also appears on the WWF Freshwater Programme blog.

There is no shortage of troubling statistics to prove that water management is a global challenge. About 1.2 billion people currently face water scarcity, and a population expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050 will put increased strain on already pressured water supplies worldwide.

But while the water challenge is truly global, it also demands solutions that are tailored to local conditions. Availability, use, and quality of water vary dramatically from place to place.

AU Optronics Uses Aqueduct Maps to Assess Water Risk

This post is part of a series on World Water Week, an annual event designed to draw attention to and discuss global water issues. Read more posts in this series.

This piece was co-authored by Keith Liao, Senior Engineer with the AU Optronics Corporate Sustainability and Environment Department

Companies are increasingly feeling the financial impacts of water risks like shortages and pollution. Ceres’ most recent report, Clearing the Waters, highlights the fact that companies are falling short on identifying key areas where their operations are exposed to physical water risks. Mitigating these threats, then, requires doing more to assess, disclose, and address them.

In an effort to learn more about how companies can better understand and manage water risks, the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct program recently partnered with AU Optronics (AUO) to assess water risks faced by the company’s fabrication plants around the world. Headquartered in Hsinchu, Taiwan, AUO is a leading manufacturer of electronic screens, otherwise known as thin-film transistor liquid crystal displays (TFT-LCDs). AUO makes up 17 percent of the world’s market share of TFT-LCDs and generated $12.5 billion in annual sales revenue in 2011.

U.S. Drought Demonstrates Complexity, Severity of Water Risk

This post is part of WRI's "Extreme Weather Watch" series, which explores the link between climate change and extreme events. Read our other posts in this series.

As much of the United States continues to suffer through what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has called the country’s most extensive drought in more than 50 years, there is growing concern over how broad and severe the impacts may be. Events like this drought—which are projected to become increasingly common should climate change continue unabated—provide a sharp reminder of how heavily communities and global economies rely on water.

They also teach another lesson: Natural resource challenges like water scarcity cannot simply be viewed as environmental issues. They are real, material drivers of risk that governments, businesses, and investors must carefully consider in the context of the global economy.

Private-Public Partnerships Reduce Water Risk in South Africa

With its high reliance on manufacturing, mining, and agriculture, South Africa’s economy runs on fresh water. Recent projections estimate a startling 17 percent gap between water demand and supply in the country by 2030. Even more concerning, the areas most affected, the Gauteng and Vaal River regions, are also the most economically significant: According to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, these two areas produce more than 50 percent of South Africa's wealth and supply more than 80 percent of the country's electricity requirements (more than 50 percent of all the electricity generated in Africa).

Aqueduct Launches New Framework to Evaluate Global Water Risks

For many companies, water issues have recently migrated from corporations’ social responsibility departments to finance and risk management departments. Companies have been reporting a growing exposure to water-related risks like flooding and pollution, and many have already started to experience water-related business impacts.

This trend prompted WRI’s Markets and Enterprise Program to build a tool to help companies and investors identify water-related risks across their operations or portfolios. The tool, named the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, is based on an indicator framework that quantifies and maps different drivers of water risk, otherwise known as the Water Risk Framework. After testing this framework in various regions, WRI recently released its revised version. This updated framework will eventually be used to assess water risks in every part of the world.

Mapping Potential Water Risks in China's Wei River

The Wei River in west-central China is not just the largest tributary of the Yellow River, but it has also been a critical water source for communities for thousands of years. To manage this important resource, water authorities in China just announced that they plan to invest 6 billion yuan - more than US$950 million - this year to fight floods and pollution in the Wei.

This investment in water management comes after flooding on the Wei killed dozens of people and forced tens of thousands from their homes in the fall of 2011. On top of these terrible human costs come severe economic impacts. According to some estimates, the 2011 flooding cost China more than 6 billion U.S. dollars.

How Climate Change is Shaping the Future of Business

This article is one in a series of updates from WRI’s Next Practice research team to highlight tools and guidance for developing corporate sustainability strategies. It builds on previous themes - Filling the Sustainability Innovation Gap and Mining Megatrends for Innovation - with examples of recent research and evidence that help build the business case for sustainability.

A recent KPMG report highlights ten “sustainability megaforces” that will shape markets in the decades to come. The list includes population growth, energy and fuel, ecosystems decline, and material resource scarcity, among others. These interconnected trends will create risks and opportunities for business. In response, companies need new strategies, particularly for market impacts relating to what KPMG calls the “megaforce” influencing all others: climate change.

Accounting for Risk

Conceptualizing a Robust Greenhouse Gas Inventory for Financial Institutions

This report takes a first step in helping financial institutions create more robust GHG inventories, by discussing objectives, options, and challenges for financial institutions and stakeholders to consider when creating and evaluating a GHG emissions inventory.

Undisclosed Risk

Corporate Environmental and Social Reporting in Emerging Asia

This report focuses on corporate transparency on environmental risks, and lays the groundwork for understanding environmental disclosure and reporting issues in emerging markets through an investor lens. It is the second report in a series establishing the link between issues like climate change...

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