New Expert Alliance Maps Water Risk Globally

WASHINGTON, DC, August 17, 2011 – By the year 2030, demand for water is projected to exceed supply by 40 percent and half the world’s population is likely to live in areas of high water stress.

In an environment of rapid population growth and climate change, government agencies charged with managing water resources are increasingly concerned with water-related disruptions.

A survey by the Carbon Disclosure Project of exposure to water stress in 150 large corporations shows nearly 40 percent of respondents have experienced disruptions in operations, increases in expenses, and other adverse impacts.

The World Resources Institute Tuesday launched the Aqueduct Alliance, a consortium of water experts who will assess and respond to increasing water risk around the world.

A farmer in his dry field, Motihari, Bihar, India, August 6, 2011 (Photo by Sujata School)

“Businesses and governments are increasingly concerned with water-related risks, which can negatively impact profitability and continued economic growth,” said Kirsty Jenkinson, director of World Resources Institute’s Markets and Enterprise Program.

“Aqueduct will provide accurate, high quality information together with a platform for businesses and governments to address water risks beyond physical water scarcity, including regulatory and socioeconomic risks.”

At the heart of Aqueduct is a global database of water risk information that will enable companies, investors, governments, and others to create water risk maps with an unprecedented level of detail and resolution.

The maps generated by Aqueduct combine advanced hydrological data with geographic indicators that capture the social, economic, and governance factors that affect companies and economies.

Founded by WRI, Goldman Sachs and General Electric, the alliance has added Bloomberg, The Dow Chemical Company, Talisman Energy, and United Technologies. The Coca-Cola Company will be providing an extensive global database of once-proprietary water risk information to support Aqueduct’s work.

This publicly-available database will inform private sector efforts to reduce its water footprint in high risk areas, and create an impetus for public sector leaders to enter into dialogues with a range of stakeholders that WRI believes will lead to more equitable, efficient, and sustainable water resources management in water-stressed basins.

West Texas has had no rain since October 2010. (Photo by Ryan Laney)

“Water risk is becoming an increasingly critical global issue, but one that is inherently local and not yet fully considered in business and investment decisions,” said Kyung-Ah Park, managing director for the Goldman Sachs Environmental Markets Group, one of the founding partners in the Aqueduct project.

“Aqueduct will work to facilitate better management of water risk and help identify market opportunities that drive more sustainable economic development,” Park said.

“Water risk is emerging as one of the greatest threats to long term economic and environmental sustainability,” said Jeff Fulgham, chief sustainability officer for GE Power & Water, one of the other founding partners in the Aqueduct project.

“Our customers around the world are addressing physical, operational, regulatory, social and reputational and financial risks all relative to water,” Fulgham said. “Aqueduct will enable us to help our customers better assess and proactively address these risks.”

WRI has developed a working prototype of the database and risk mapping tool, covering the Yellow River Basin in northern China.

The institute plans to launch an updated interactive web platform that includes global and basin-specific maps and information on water related risks.

The ultimate goal of the project is to provide a comprehensive database of water risk information that can support improved public and private sector decision-making in water-stressed locations.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2011. All rights reserved.