New guide to setting site water targets

The world’s water resources are under growing pressure from rising water consumption, greater pollution, weak governance, and climate change – exposing companies to increased water-related risks.

In response, many companies are engaging in water stewardship and setting water targets to help address their water-related externalities and secure water for the growing needs of all users.

The UN Global Compact, CEO Water Mandate, has recently published a report and guide for setting site water targets. The guide aims to help companies set effective site water targets that are informed by catchment context, which can create value and support collective action.

The guide “Setting Site Water Targets Informed by Catchment Context: A Guide for Companies” is intended for site staff or technical water specialists responsible for water management, and lays out three key elements for setting effective site water targets:

  1. Water targets should respond to priority water challenges within the catchment;
  2. The ambition of water targets should be informed by the site’s contribution to water challenges and desired conditions; and
  3. Water targets should reduce water risk, capitalise on opportunities, and contribute to public sector priorities.

Site water targets are often derived from company-wide targets that are focused on total water use, water efficiency, and/or water quality and may not include other water challenges such as access to safe and affordable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). As such, targets may not address the local water challenges most relevant to the site.

By responding to the priority water challenges within the catchment, site water targets can address water challenges and in doing so help reduce water-related business risks to the site.