Setting water targets at the enterprise level that respond to local contexts has proved challenging because water is not an equally material issue across corporate value chains. Environmental, social, governance and economic conditions can also vary widely across catchments, and water risks result from shared water challenges.

Informed by practitioner experience and stakeholder consultation, as well as existing water stewardship guidance and resources, this working paper introduces a three-step process for how companies can set water targets at the enterprise level that address the most material water-related risks in the places that matter the most across a company’s value chain.

The purpose of this working paper is to help companies do their part to address shared water challenges — and to focus their efforts in the right high-priority places. By setting enterprise water targets, companies can make changes in the ways and in the places that matter most across their value chains, ranging from how they source inputs to how they operate or provide goods.

This working paper is intended for companies, particularly those with many sites in their direct operations or in the broader value chain, that require a robust and credible water target at the enterprise level to help set and publicly communicate a meaningful and credible ambition for water stewardship. It will be most valuable for practitioners with technical or functional responsibility for management of water issues at the enterprise level.