World Business Council for Sustainable Development
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and Wetlands International
Water availability is not even across the planet, as water quantity and quality are dependent on a number of local factors that include natural ones (such as geography), but also human-related ones (such as land use and regulatory frameworks).
As water scarcity increases in some parts of the world, competition between water users to access the resource is also set to increase. Water is therefore to be managed locally, and collaboration will be critical to deal with the issue. Some organizations are already acknowledging this, and are engaging at a watershed level with other water users to better manage the resource.
Interestingly, the approaches differ from one watershed to another: while some companies are working towards common metrics to assess and mitigate local risks and impacts, some use valuation as a tool to inform decision and engage locally. Governments are also increasingly looking into techniques and innovative governance models to better allocate the resource between different users of a same watershed.
Photo Credi: istock
09:00 Welcome and Introduction. Ms. Violaine Berger, WBCSD
09:05 Why is Business Engagement Critical? Ms. Jane Madgwick, WI
09:20 The Challenge and the Solutions: Watershed Collaboration, Engaging Business, Better Valuing Water. Ms. Liese Dallbauman, PepsiCo, USA
09:35 Examples for Collective Action: EWP/RISE Project on Local Deals. Ms. Sabine von Wirén-Lehr, European Water Partnership
09:45 How to Initiate Successful Collaborations between Companies. Findings. Ms. Susan Fernandes, US BCSD, USA
09:55 Building the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement. Mr. Dale Phenicie, CGLI, USA
10:05 Panel Discussion.
Moderator: Mr Chris Baker, WI
10:30 Coffee Break
11:00 How Can Water Valuation Help Governments Better Allocate Water? Mr. Xavier Leflaive, OECD
11:15 Business Guide to Water Valuation. Mr. James Spurgeon, Sustain Value
11:25 Valuation as a Tool to Improve Decision Making. Mr. Mathieu Tolian, Veolia Water, France
11:35 Valuing Water to Drive more Effective Decision at a Watershed Level. Mr. Tony Kelly, Yarra Valley Water, Australia
11:45 Making a Business Case for the Valuation of Externalities. Mr. Alexandre Le Vernoy, SAB Miller, UK
11:55 Panel Discussion.
Moderator: Mr. Xavier Leflaive, OECD
12:20 Conclusions. Mr. Joppe Cramwinckel, WBCSD
Business needs to be involved in discussions at the watershed level. Looking at water risks beyond the company’s fenceline makes total business sense: companies can’t have a narrow view about their responsibility and wait for the system to collapse before taking action.
Forward-thinking companies have already shifted their practices from “do less harm” to “do more good”. However, one of the big hurdles of watershed collaboration is data availability: how much water is there and of which quality? How many users are withdrawing water? What are the seasonal variations of water in the aquifer, etc.?
Watershed level approaches should address the question of water allocation. In water-stressed watersheds, water should be allocated in a way that allows for the values for society, the economy and the environment to be maximized. But in real life, water allocation is complex and there is no one size fits all approach. Market mechanisms also tend to be considered as “easy-wins” solutions, but they require a complex set of policy mechanisms and institutions to work properly. Markets are not the answer to every issue.
The seminar was the opportunity to release the Business Guide to Water Valuation, which aims to arm business managers with the knowledge and critical eye needed to work with valuation specialists, whether internal, external or both. It should help managers commission, manage and review water valuation studies, as well as make best use of the findings. The Guide also serves a wider audience interested in water valuation, including valuation experts, policy-makers and researchers. As such, it aims to facilitate consistency in use of approaches and terminology for future water valuation studies.
Valuation can support business decision-making. The different business case studies presented during the seminar demonstrated that valuation is a useful tool that can support decision-making in very different ways (see slide packs in the Resource section). Additional valuation studies can also be found on the WBCSD website. Water valuation can for example help a company maintain and enhance revenues, reduce costs, manage risks and enhance reputation.
Can water valuation become mainstream? The key challenge in the coming years will be whether different organizations like the TEEB for Business Coalition or the B Team are able to develop a common methodology that all companies can use and that allows the results of valuation studies to be comparable.