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Without water, neither small businesses nor major global industries can function.

Not family farms or major agribusinesses. Not energy production facilities or computer manufacturers or steel companies. Similarly, poor water quality, or limited or unreliable access to water means higher costs for all businesses – and all consumers. Water scarcity means greater risks for a community’s long-term viability and a negative impact on their competitiveness. It also means that a community’s ability to grow and create jobs is at risk. Regardless of whether water has become the new oil, one thing is certain: water is ironically both taken for granted and serves as the engine of our economy. If not properly managed, water scarcity will directly affect the local ability to grow and create jobs.

Economic Implications of Water Scarcity and Shortages.

Right now, many companies already consider water resources when making decisions about where to invest or locate facilities. And they are giving preference to areas where water risks are lowest. These businesses understand what policymakers are now coming to realize: When water resources are unhealthy or unreliable, businesses cannot grow and cannot hire or sustain a workforce. Local commerce suffers, incomes decline, tax revenues fall. The effects are very real and they are felt immediately and acutely.

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When talking about the impacts of climate change, few risks are more visceral or tangible than those it poses to future food supply. From spikes in food prices to threats to the coffee industry, consumers are increasingly aware of the effects of rising global average temperatures.

For companies in the food, beverage and tobacco sectors, climate change presents a two-fold challenge: the industry is highly exposed to climate-related impacts, but is at the same time a major contributor to increasing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions levels – particularly from agricultural production, which according to the IPCC causes 10-14% of global GHG emissions.

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.