By Alexis Morgan, WWF Water Stewardship Lead
When it comes to valuing water, the sky is the limit…literally.
From valuing rainwater and freshwater ecosystems to valuing water bonds or valuing water purification membranes, there are a huge array of ways that one can conceive of “valuing water”. It was this range of valuations, and the confusion that it brought, that led me and my colleague Stuart Orr to begin working with IFC on a paper on the Value of Water way back in 2014.
Fast forward a few years, and the confusion has certainly not subsided. Indeed, the array of tools and approaches that allow one to “value water” has only proliferated. So, we decided to do something about it.
Why does valuing water even matter?
Simply put, as we noted back in 2015: price ≠ cost ≠ value. From a corporate and investor perspective, whilst the price of water remains cheap worldwide, the financial impacts from water risks can be paramount for businesses. Some companies are learning this the hard way; mining companies reported via CDP a total of US$20.5 billion of water-related financial impacts in 2018.
Investors and companies that do not account for the financial value of water risks are likely to make ill-informed investment decisions — affecting long-term business growth, communities and the environment. As climate change manifests itself in the coming years through the medium of water, it is critical to ensure that investments are flowing in the right direction for a resilient future.
For the rest of us, valuing water goes far beyond the financial. The value of swimming, going fishing with your father, sitting beside a lake watching the sunset, or bathing in sacred waters is not something that dollars, euros, yen or rupees can truly capture.
Wait…you said you did something about it…
Indeed, we have. Launched today and embedded in the WWF Water Risk Filter, the Valuing Water Database is a brand new, free resource for users. So what is it?
Containing over 100+ tools, the new Valuing Water Database in the Water Risk Filter helps users navigate through the array of existing tools and approaches to valuing water, which have emerged over the past 15 years in order to identify the best tool for the job.
The Valuing Water Database offers those interested in valuing water a go-to location where different tools and approaches can be identified to ensure the use of the optimal tool.
Curious about how to value water ecosystem services like wetland purification? The Valuing Water Database can help. Curious about how to value drought (water) risks for a mining company? The Valuing Water Database can help.
From calculators to platforms, the database will help users navigate over 100 different tools and approaches, helping to make life simpler for those who are interested in valuing water — no matter which form that value takes shape in. And soon there will be another tool on the database: WWF & Water Foundry’s Water And ValuE (WAVE) tool, which is entering into beta testing and will be profiled — along with the Database — in a report coming out next week.
So go check out the Valuing Water Database now — no matter which way you want to value water, it will steer you the right way.