The purpose of this guide is to support companies in setting effective site water targets that are informed by catchment context. This guide introduces three critical elements for setting effective site water targets that:

  • Align with the priority water challenges within the catchment;
  • Reflect the site’s contribution to the water challenge(s) and desired catchment condition(s); and
  • Support company efforts to reduce exposure to water risk, capitalize on opportunities, and contribute to overall catchment water security.

The elements proposed herein were informed by research, pilot testing, and consultations with stakeholders from a wide range of sectors. They are meant to complement and expand on existing corporate water stewardship efforts and support corporate contributions to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. While not prescriptive, the resulting guide can help sites establish directionally correct targets that focus on the right challenges, based on appropriate estimates.

Although stakeholder engagement is strongly encouraged when setting targets, this guide is non-binding. It does not require companies to publicly communicate, report or commit to water targets. In addition, because the action of one company alone is unlikely to enhance water security in a catchment, companies are encouraged to work with other water users to collectively set water targets that are based on a shared understanding of the catchment context and each user’s relative contributions.

Finally, setting water targets informed by the elements and actions proposed in this guide can help companies act as leaders and catalyze collective action. At the same time, sites can become more resilient and adapt to water challenges emerging around the world.

This guide is meant to be updated over time, based on feedback from users and other stakeholders, and maintain alignment with other initiatives.