Corporate water disclosure guidelines launched by UN

An attempt to build a common approach to water-use disclosure by companies has been launched by the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate.

Unveiled at the Stockholm Water Week in Sweden on 27 August 2012, the Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines provide the first-ever common approach to what is a critical component of a company’s water management efforts and general water sustainability.

The UN CEO Water Mandate says that companies are fundamentally changing the way they address water. Increasingly, they are investing in water-efficient technologies, working with suppliers to encourage more responsible water use, introducing cleaner and more efficient products, and seeking to advance sustainable water management “outside their fencelines” as a way to mitigate water-related risks and impacts.

The new guidelines were developed in collaboration with the Pacific Institute, Carbon Disclosure Project, PricewaterhouseCoopers, World Resources Institute and Global Reporting Initiative. They offer a common approach to disclosure, putting forward metrics that can begin to harmonize practice and also providing guidance to help companies define report content.

The guidelines suggest that companies offer several types of water-related information, which are captured in the guidelines’ Corporate Water Disclosure Framework. The framework builds on three areas:

  • 1. Company Water Profile – an overview of the company’s relationship with water resources, offering a snapshot of water performance, risks, impacts, and response strategies that nontechnical audiences can easily understand
  • 2. Defining Report Content – a description of the process by which a company determines which water-related content to include in its report. The company assesses the significance of different water topics to the company and its stakeholders, and the extent to which those topics cause, or may in the future cause, adverse impacts to ecosystems and communities
  • 3. Detailed Disclosure – specific, detailed metrics and qualitative information related to the company’s water management as well as to the specific water management programs and projects it implements.
  • The guidelines can be downloaded free of charge from the Pacific Institute and on the CEO Water Mandate websites.