Over-depletion of water from rivers, lakes and aquifers is a leading cause of ecological degradation, affecting the prosperity of local communities around the world.
Corporations are the world’s largest water users, with nearly two-thirds of all water consumption going into producing ingredients for corporate supply chains. Fortunately, many corporations are adopting sustainable water use practices to strengthen their brand reputation and to manage water-related business risks.
Corporate concerns over water are escalating, provoked by highly-publicized events around the globe and across myriad industries in which water shortages or pollution led to severe disruption of business operations or damaged a company’s reputation. Some examples include:
Cotton: Clothing manufacturers stopped buying cotton grown in the Aral Sea region when irrigation diversions shrank the sea to a quarter of its former size and wind-blown, chemical-laden dust and salt from the exposed lakeshore caused an outbreak of cancer.
Mining: Newmont faced protests by thousands of local residents near its Peruvian gold mine due to water concerns that led the company to relinquish access to 3.9 million ounces of gold reserves in 2004.
Beverages: Citizen protests in Kerala, India forced Coca-Cola to shut down a profitable bottling plant in 2005 due to local villager’s claims that the company had caused their wells to go dry and polluted soils and groundwater with their sludge disposal. The controversy engendered an anti-Coke campaign on college campuses as far away as the United States.
These and hundreds of other similar controversies have awakened many corporations to their water-related business risks – to both their operations and their reputations – and prompted them to take action to evaluate and manage these risks.
We help companies apply pragmatic, effective strategies for minimizing their water risks while bringing natural ecosystems back to health.