How do you make a problem you can’t see important? This is a big theme across all the breakouts at New Metrics ’15 this week — the importance of finding the accurate and appropriate measurement tools for the challenges that face us.
In a session titled “Practical Tools for Evaluating and Reporting Water Use,” the panel discussed the challenge of putting a tangible value to an intangible problem — water management.
So how do corporations evaluate and measure their water usage and show responsible water stewardship? The panel spoke to the plentiful amount of new tools available to measure both usage and risk assessment. Ceres launched the AquaGauge tool in 2011, focusing on four key areas — Measurement, Management, Engagement and Disclosure. This year, they have tweaked that tool to apply specifically to the (very thirsty) food industry and recently published a report called Feeding Ourselves Thirsty, bringing to light challenges and opportunities for big food companies. The Water Risk Monetizer from EcoLab and Trucost was the first online tool to be launched for free to help corporations understand how they depend on natural capital to run their businesses.
Lindsay Bass from WWF predicts that as water has become the new ‘carbon issue,’ we will see tools and strategies more accurately addressing wider issues; for instance hyper-local issues (basin by basin), a more accurate cost of water as part of the value chain and the knock-on effects of water scarcity (energy shortages and sanitation complexities).
The panel agreed that the first step towards averting a water crisis was to ensure accurate water usage monitoring from corporations worldwide and transparency of these results. From this knowledge and the understanding of the true cost of this natural resource will come a wider adoption of sustainable water stewardship strategies.