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Online tool allows for comparison of water strategies (Water Wednesday)

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Aqua Gauge allows companies to get a handle on water management strategy, while it allows investors to compare water stewardship progress within given corporate peer groups.

Contributor’s Note: This is an ongoing column in water sustainability, consumption and management issues. The rationale is simple: water is a more urgent priority for corporate social responsibility programs and becoming more so every day.

Ceres, an investor coalition and public interest group, has put together an online tool called Aqua Gauge allows companies to evaluate water-related risks. Aqua Gauge allows investors to look at how a given company's water conservation and consumption strategy relate to those of its peer group. The overall goal is to inspire more informed and engaged water stewardship.

Aqua Gauge and the accompanying analysis of corporate water strategies was developed by Ceres and a group of 50 investors, companies and public interest groups. There are four different areas explored in detail in the report:

  • Measurement, information about how water is used in direct operations and supply chains
  • Governance and management, data on how closely boards or senior management are involved in water issues
  • Stakeholder engagement, an examination of how a given company works with outside stakeholders, such as local communities
  • Transparency and disclosure, ways in which a business might talk about its water-related activities and strategies to the outside world

Here's some perspective on why one investor group got involved in this project. The comment is from Lara Yacob, senior engagement specialist for responsible investing at Robeco, which is an investment management firm in the Netherlands.

"The report gives institutional investors a powerful new tool to inform company dialogues by prioritizing key areas of corporate water management. We take a long term view of investing in companies that manage their risks in order to protect shareholder value, and companies are increasingly facing risks around water management, whether from water scarcity, higher operation costs or higher raw material costs because of water price increases."

The head of water stewardship for The Coca-Cola Co., Greg Koch, describes Aqua Gauge as the "most advanced thinking on corporate water management." The report that accompanies the tool was researched and written by Ceres, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the investor research organization IRRC Institute, and a consulting firm from the United Kingdom, Irbaris.

Past Water Wednesday posts:

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure