Perspective | IPCC Paints a Bleak Picture for #Water – But There is a Way Forward — Circle of Blue

This irrigated parcel in Fruita is owned by Water Asset Management, a private equity group that has been accused of water speculation. A state work group has released its report on investment water speculation, but failed to come to a consensus or make recommendations to lawmakers.
CREDIT: BETHANY BLITZ/ASPEN JOURNALISM

Click the link to read the article on the Circle of Blue website (Brett Walton). Here’s an excerpt:

So, what role does the private sector play?

Despite their dark assessment, the IPCC scientists give us hope by saying “there is still time to act.” But how? Industry – from food production to mining, apparel manufacturing to high-tech – is collectively the largest user and influencer of freshwater resources globally. Along with governments, the private sector is an integral component of the water cycle and has much to lose as critical climate and water risks grow. This presents an opportunity for collective action.

Investors and companies are positioned to lead the world in the innovation and adaptation needed to respond to the twin systemic threats of water and climate crises. In practice, that means:

  • Investors must wake up to the reality that water is a material risk in their portfolios and develop a plan to address that risk. More information is needed to help a broader tent of investors fully understand how water risk impacts their portfolios. Providing evidence of the severe and systemic nature of industrial impacts to freshwater resources and identifying the worst offending sectors and practices would provide investors a “clear case” of the potential harm. An upcoming scientific report that Ceres is set to release in April will shed light on these areas to help accelerate understanding and action.
  • Investors must understand the intersection of climate and water risks and be ready to engage. From water supply, water quality, ecosystem protection, and sanitation to business governance integration, public policy engagement and multi-stakeholder collaboration, investors also need tools to understand how to best engage with companies they invest in – and how they can be a key player in halting the systemic harm those industries cause. Later this year, Ceres will formally launch the Valuing Water Finance Initiative for investors to engage key water users and polluters across the global economy to adopt and implement corporate expectations for valuing water.
  • Companies must identify their own water impacts and communicate to stakeholders their plans to address those risks. How industry responds to intensifying water scarcity and water quality risks globally will be critical to its long-term future and society at large. By focusing on, and investing in, these challenges today, companies can substantially reduce financial risks and bottom-line losses down the road. It is clear the status quo cannot continue. The same information that will help investors act on their risks can offer a framework for action and transparency to help companies respond and get ahead.

 

There is still time to act. Together, we can mobilize the power of the private sector to take unflinching action on the water crisis and preserve our precious water systems for generations to come.

Kirsten James is the water program director at Ceres. Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy.

Leave a Reply