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Around the world and throughout every sector of the economy, companies and investors are increasingly aware of risks associated with their dependence on fresh water. For example, a recent report by the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Water Disclosure branch looked at water-stressed South Africa and revealed that 85% of water-intensive companies in the country are exposed to water risks, with 70% expecting to face water impacts to their operations within the next five years.

This edition of the Aqueduct News Roundup looks at recent articles and some wrap-up from World Water Day as well as the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, France. The last several weeks have been exciting for Aqueduct, which introduced a streamlined new water risk mapping interface and comprehensive water risk maps for southern Africa’s Orange-Senqu basin,which are available online.

The stories in this edition of the Aqueduct News Roundup are focused on the growing importance of water to a wide variety of audiences, especially in the private sector.

It’s rare for water to make waves at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering of business leaders and finance ministers. But the most recent Davos summit was an exception. A new eye-opening report ranked water supply among the top five global risks in terms of impact– on par with systemic financial failure and fiscal imbalances.

The Aqueduct project is an effort to measure and map water related risks being developed by the World Resources Institute with the support of an alliance founded by General Electric and Goldman Sachs. As part of this effort, the Aqueduct team convened its hydrological modeling partner ISciences and experts from The Coca-Cola Company to develop and analyze a set of maps for the Bonn2011 Nexus conference that illustrate the complex relationships between water, food, and energy worldwide (see below).

For the last five months, a severe drought in central China has brought water levels in the Yangtze River to near-record lows. The drought’s impacts -- from threatened drinking water supplies to disruptions in manufacturing -- have rippled through the population and economy of China. They are a reminder of the diverse and complicated ways in which water, or the lack thereof, can pose risks for companies, investors and policy makers.

Concerns about the world’s most precious resource - water – are growing, and businesses are increasingly taking note. A recent survey with responses from 150 large corporations conducted by CDP Water Disclosure revealed that 39% of companies have already experienced disruptions in operations, increasing expenses, and other detrimental impacts related to water. Although water risk is a significant concerrn, 62% of the responding companies also recognized that a water-constrained world could create opportunities to reduce operating costs with efficiency gains and generate new business in innovative water solutions.

A new project will help identify and measure the water-related risks facing companies and their investors, and lead to better environmental decisions.

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