A lot of companies will be sending out a lot of messages today to mark World Water Day, highlighting their water work and their commitment to helping achieve SDG 6 — water and sanitation for all by 2030. But the reality is that too few companies are doing enough to make a real difference, let alone ensuring that ‘no one is left behind’.
Achieving SDG 6 relies on the participation of a range of stakeholders, including businesses, who both impact, and are dependent upon, our shared freshwater resources. To deliver on SDG 6, companies must adopt a water stewardship approach, which requires them to understand the risks and context of the basins in which they operate in order to take meaningful action to help ensure water is managed sustainably.
And this is where the upgraded WWF Water Risk Filter comes in. By guiding companies from assessment to response to water risks, this unique tool can help businesses, via three simple steps, become better water stewards and contribute more meaningfully to SDG 6 — to help ensure no one is left behind.
Step 1: Understanding & assessing water risks in the context of SDG 6
The Water Risk Filter uses 32 annually-updated, peer reviewed data sets to provide a comprehensive assessment of regulatory, physical, and reputational risks.
Regulatory water risk is heavily tied to the concept of good governance. The Water Risk Filter in fact adopted the framework of SDG 6.5 to assess regulatory risks in relation to enabling environment, institutions and governance, management instruments, and infrastructure and finance. Regarding SDG 6.1 and SDG 6.2, the tool contains risk indicators on access to water and sanitation, based on data sets from World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which are incorporated into the infrastructure & finance category largely because it tends to be most prevalent in cases where critical WASH infrastructure is lacking.
For physical risks, FAO Water Stress datais incorporated into the tool as it is the indicator informing SDG 6.4.2. In addition, the Water Risk Filter also contains risk indicators on water quality relating to SDG 6.3 and indicators on catchment ecosystem services degradation relating to SDG 6.6.
Step 2: Responding to water risks & aligning water strategies to SDG 6
Directly linked to companies’ water risk assessments, the Water Risk Filter’s recently released Respond sectionprovides users with a customized set of response actions for any given site (or a portfolio of sites).
Based on WWF’s commitment to support SDG 6 and the wider water stewardship community, response actions in the Water Risk Filter are linked and can be filtered according to SDG 6 targets as well as other leading frameworks (e.g., AWS, CDP, Ceres Aqua Gauge, CEO Water Mandate, etc). For example, recommended response actions range from ‘Understanding the Human Right to water’ in support of SDG 6.1. to ‘Substitute environmentally damaging products’ in order to minimize impacts on freshwater ecosystems, which is required to achieve SDG 6.6.
By providing a customized set of recommended actions at the click of a button, the tool’s innovative Respond section enables companies to quickly and easily develop comprehensive water stewardship responses that integrate local context and are aligned with SDG 6 targets.
Step 3: Setting contextual water targets to achieve SDG 6
Finally, by identifying contextual responses to address water-related risks, the Water Risk Filter can guide companies towards setting contextual water targets.
In simple terms, the tool can help companies to prioritize and identity the right types of water targets and in the right places. For example, companies should be setting more stringent water efficiency targets related to SDG 6.4 for sites in water scarce basin, whereas they could plan to deploy zero-liquid discharge technologies aimed at achieving SDG 6.3 for sites in basins with significant water quality challenges.
By connecting risk assessment to response actions linked to SDGs, the Water Risk Filter can help scale up corporate water stewardship efforts to deliver on SDG 6 and strengthen global efforts to ensure a sustainable water future for all.
For more information on the Water Risk Filter or support with your water risk assessment and recommendations to address your water risks, contact Ariane Laporte-Bisquit (email@example.com) or visit http://waterriskfilter.org.
For more information on how the Water Risk Filter’s Respond section enables contextual water targets, check out this blogpublished earlier this week by Rylan Dobson, Water Stewardship Manager, WWF Germany & Alexis Morgan, WWF Global Water Stewardship Lead.