By now, most Americans are aware of the drought conditions in the Southwest, especially in California. But some suggest drought isn’t even the right word. As stated in a recent GreenBiz article, “Let's stop referring to ‘the drought’ as if water scarcity is a temporary event and we just need to wait it out.” The article suggests businesses take such actions as evaluating water risk across their value chain, integrating water with energy strategy and taking collective action using tools such as the Water Action Hub.
“We want this day to be about action. Every conversation you have today should have a bias for action.” That was the charge given at the Pacific Institute to an eager audience ready to do just that. And no wonder, since the room was filled with a diverse group of stakeholders including technologists, environmentalists, corporate types, policy wonks and others who had come from all over the country to attend this conference convened by the UN CEO Water Mandate’s Water Action Hub. The Water Action Hub is an online platform built to help facilitate collective action by connecting organizations across geographies so that they can collaborate on projects in the action areas that they care about. Coordinated through the Hub, this event brought people face to face to help address the range of water challenges facing the Southwestern United States.
“Let's stop referring to ‘the drought’ as if water scarcity is a temporary event and we just need to wait it out.”
But while companies recognize the current and increasing importance of water risk, there may be a gap between their concern and action. That was the finding in a new survey of major U.S. corporations released by the Pacific Institute and VOX Global, titled Bridging Concern with Action: Are US Companies Prepared for Looming Water Challenges? The study found that 57 percent of companies expect water issues to be a factor in their growth by 2018 and 86 percent of companies see increasing risk to profitability due to water-related challenges. While survey respondents indicated that water challenges are worsening and will affect their business more significantly in years to come, most did not indicate any plans to expand their water risk mitigation measures in the future. Tony Calandro, one of the authors of the study, noted that internal obstacles are often to blame for slow action. “Business leaders we surveyed pointed to two significant internal obstacles that hinder companywide buy-in to water: lack of time to raise awareness and buy-in and other risks ranking as a higher, more immediate priority.”
Both Jason Morrison and Tony Calandro will be discussing these findings on a June 17 webinar hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center and WASH Advocates (whose website directs you to Learn-Act-Connect). Sign up to hear private sector case studies, steps companies can take to identify water risks and opportunities, and how to make the business case for action. I will join Jason and Tony to present the work AT&T and EDF collaborated on to develop our free water toolkit that organizations can use to address facility water use in their operations. It should be no surprise that the theme will —once again—be about action.