WRI’s Aqueduct team recently added new functionality to the Aqueduct suite of tools to better support companies in setting contextual water targets across their value chains.

The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, designed to evaluate water risks globally, is used by many companies primarily for assessing risks to their operations. Increasingly, companies are broadening their focus from water risks to their direct operations to assessing what their contributions should be to solve water challenges and understand water impacts and dependencies across their value chains. Our tool enhancements were designed to meet these evolving needs.

Using Aqueduct to Understand Change Required to Solve Water Challenges

The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas’ new “Prioritize Basins” tab enables users to view basins that exceed desired conditions. A “desired condition” threshold refers to the strategic goal related to the reduction or elimination of a water challenge. A default desired condition is provided, which the user can adjust based on their ambition or deeper understanding of basin needs. For example, the private sector generally adopts a baseline water stress threshold of 40% as a desired condition, which is based upon other withdrawal-to-availability indicators. The provided default values represent examples of thresholds that have been adopted by the private sector for setting contextual water targets. The map will display catchments that do not meet the specified desired conditions.

In addition, users can view the preselected desired condition in the output of the “Analyze” tool. The desired condition score is compared to the baseline score and a “% change required” column is displayed for all locations. This formula for determining the change required is recommended by WRI and partners in Setting Enterprise Water Targets: A Guide for Companies as one option for developing contextual water targets. The entire range of quantitative target setting approaches is beyond this article; however, understanding the percent change required is the foundation for most target setting approaches. For example, users may choose to apply that percentage change to their own footprint to set an absolute target (e.g., Mars and Cargill), or they may opt to set a net positive target that exceeds the change required (e.g., Microsoft).

A graphic showing baseline water stress across priority basins in Africa, Europe and Asia.

Using Aqueduct Food to Assess Water Risks Across Agricultural Supply Chains

For many companies, particularly in the food, beverage and textile sector, water risks may be most prevalent in the supply chain. Aqueduct Food provides water risk information where crops are grown globally. Because supply chain information may not always be fully transparent, having geospatial data on crop production is valuable for overlaying with water risk data to prioritize hot spots and crops most at risk.

WRI’s Aqueduct team has now added new supply chain analysis functionality in the “Supply Chain” tab. Similar to the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas’ “Analyze” function commonly used by companies for direct operations, this new feature enables users to import their crop supply chain information, including the type of crop sourced and the place of origination (e.g., state/province or country). The output will include the water risk indicator scores by crop and location, as well as the change required to meet the preselected desired condition.

A graphic showing coastal eutrophication potential across Europe and South America

We encourage our users to explore these new features and let us know how we can further improve these platforms to support you and your company.

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact Shivani Lakshman.