The UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate initiative has released the finalized Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines — a common approach for companies to disclose the many elements of their corporate water management practice to key stakeholders.
The Guidelines — developed by the CEO Water Mandate in collaboration with CDP, Global Reporting Initiative, PricewaterhouseCoopers and World Resources Institute — aim to harmonize reporting approaches, minimizing reporting burdens so companies spend less time on different reports and more time actively managing water.
Over the last several years, a proliferation of different water assessment and disclosure metrics and tools has become available. This array of tools and frameworks has been helpful, but has also resulted in significant confusion over what is valuable and meaningful to disclose and reporting that is often not comparable from company to company and year to year, the CEO Water Mandate says.
Launched in 2007 by the UN Secretary-General, the CEO Water Mandate is overseen by the UN Global Compact, and implemented in partnership with the Pacific Institute.
A key point that came to light in the development of the Guidelines was the need for a common understanding of the terms used to describe geographic locations with water challenges. To promote meaningful information and disclosure, the terms “water scarcity,” “water stress,” and “water risk,” often used interchangeably, have been precisely defined and incorporated in the Guidelines. Nine organizations in the water stewardship field collaborated to agree on these common definitions published in the accompanying water-related terminology discussion paper.
The Guidelines also offer a common approach to disclosure, putting forward metrics that can begin to harmonize practice and also providing guidance to help companies define what water-related topics to report.
In response to the growing importance to businesses of water management and water disclosure more specifically, the Guidelines address the ways companies:
- Measure their water performance.
- Assess conditions in the river basins where they operate.
- Understand their water-related risks, impacts, and opportunities.
- Develop effective water management strategies.
- Communicate these issues to stakeholders.