The sustainability nonprofit organization Ceres announced a new partnership with a leading research institute to deliver a new global assessment that will serve as a foundation in developing bold new action steps to better protect the world’s most precious resource: water. This is the first of its kind assessment that takes a comprehensive look at the major threats to our global water supply from unsustainable corporate practices.
Ceres is joining forces with the Global Institute for Water Security (GIWS) at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada to draw attention to the strong linkage between these practices and our threatened water supplies. GIWS will conduct science-based research and analysis on industry practices in water-intensive sectors that have led to increased water scarcity and pollution, and threatened ecosystems and accessibility in communities around the globe. The global food agribusiness sector – which uses more than 70% of the world’s fresh water to grow crops, feed livestock and process ingredients – will be among those industries analyzed.
The findings will be used to inform a new set of leading investor expectations for companies to improve their overall water stewardship in business operations and supply chains. To ensure the research and analysis is relevant to capital market audiences, the effort will also be informed by the ongoing work of the Valuing Water Finance Task Force, an influential group of pension funds and commercial banks that launched last month. Ceres has partnered with the Government of Netherlands Valuing Water Initiative on this overall effort to catalyze capital market leaders to address water risk as a financial risk.
“Despite an increased focus on water-related risks, companies and investors have not fully understood or addressed the far-reaching impacts of their own industry practices on our global water supply, or on their own portfolios,” said Kirsten James, director of Water at Ceres. “Through our work with the Valuing Water Finance Task Force and GIWS, we will strengthen the science-driven business case for action steps to value water as a financial imperative and reduce impacts.”
James added, “With a more comprehensive and clear understanding of water-related risks, investors can engage more effectively with companies and help to build more resilient global water resources and communities.
The global assessment report aims to build on Ceres’ valuable research and engagement tools that have been brought to market to address water-related risks. However to date, most of the analysis and discussion with investors and companies have taken either an investor or company-centric point of view. This new report will bring in more perspectives from the scientific and academic community and build on the trend that we are seeing with investors wanting to better understand the comprehensive evidence that supports acting on these risks.
“Our partnership with Ceres represents a major opportunity to provide the latest water science for corporate and investor decision making,” said Professor Jay Famiglietti, executive director at GIWS. “We simply cannot move the needle on global water security without buy-in from industry. Engaging with Ceres to produce the global assessment report may have profound implications for how industry views its role in water stewardship moving forward.”
The global assessment report will also inform other research projects underway at Ceres and other work with members of the Ceres’ Investor Water Hub, a working group of the Ceres Investor Network, to develop best in practice case studies.