The water challenge in India is fundamentally related to agriculture. Lately however, the interdependence of water and industrial use has been emerging as a critical issue, as awareness of the diverse ways in which water use can pose substantial threats to businesses in certain regions and sectors grow. In many developing countries and emerging markets, providing a sufficient supply of drinking water or ensuring working waste water systems is a daunting challenge.
Even as businesses seek to secure long-term prosperity, to maintain competitive advantage and brand differentiation, and to secure stability and choice in supply chains, depending on the type of business there will be different levels and types of risks related to increasing scarcity of water (WWF, 2009).
While the provision and management of water has typically been a responsibility of the Government, a paradigm shift around water has emerged, which focuses on the concept of corporate water risk. The CEO Water Mandate which was launched in July 2007 under the United Nations Global Compact recognizes that the industrial sector impacts water resources both directly and through supply chains; and that in order to operate in a more sustainable manner the organization has a responsibility to make water-resource management a priority.
The central question then is no longer who is threatened by water scarcity, but given the diverse interests how can industry and agriculture adapt for co-evolution through investments in water, food or economic transfers, and water storages, considering a hierarchy of geopolitical units, river basins and institutions.
Water should be high on the agenda of corporates because the future of businesses depends on the sustainability of water resources, which are increasingly under pressure. Clear implications of a water-constrained world include loss of license to operate, increased production costs, tainted brand image and adverse impact on the health of employees and the communities of operations. Despite clear signs of a pending global crisis, only a few large corporates have made addressing the challenge a high priority.
The 11th International Label Conference will deal with this issue under one of the key topics: