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Do You Know Your Water Footprint?

September 6, 2013

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This week is World Water Week and the UN has declared 2013 the Year of Water Co-operation. I didn’t know that, and I’d be willing to bet a lot of Canadians don’t know it. After all, we are privileged to live in a part of the world with such an abundance of water that we rarely even consider it. Yet, if we are to run environmentally conscious, sustainable companies, then we must look beyond our piece of paradise and consider the wider repercussions of our impact on the water supply.

One of the newer developments in business sustainability is water footprinting. Like carbon footprinting, water footprinting is a measure of how much water is used and to what extent water is polluted by a business, family, or individual. In the recent Global Risks 2013 survey, international leaders and business executives identified water availability as one of the top 5 global business risks today. The survey urges businesses to consider the risks to production, the supply chain, their reputation and their relationships with the community, and ultimately their bottom line from water scarcity and pollution. The risks are present in most industries, but they are particularly pertinent to sectors such as fashion and manufacturing where the supply chain includes goods being produced in India, Mexico and other water-poor areas.

One method of identifying our impact on the water supply is to apply Water Footprint Network’s water footprint assessment methodology. The assessment involves a four-stage process:

  • setting the goal and scope of the assessment;
  • calculating the total volume of freshwater used to produce goods and services (the water footprint);
  • assessing sustainability in terms of local water scarcity and pollution levels; and
  • working to reduce the water footprint or improve sustainability.

At Reeve Consulting, we endeavour to consider all the risks in every aspect of your supply chain, and we’ll help you find the ones you haven’t thought of yet.

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