Even though access to freshwater is an essential human right recognised by the United Nations, millions of people around the globe have to deal with water scarcity, poor water quality and insufficient sanitation. Companies operating in water stressed areas have, therefore, to take meaningful action.
Promoting effective water management
Responding to the global water crisis and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, GRI engaged with leading water stewardship experts to develop a standard that will help companies better understand and manage their water impacts. Tweet This!
“The lack of access to freshwater affects more than 40% of the global population. In a world where some companies’ GDPs exceed that of whole countries, the business world is expected to rise to the challenge and do its part in addressing these. The aim of the revised water standard is to help companies report what matters, and where it matters, by using credible, context-based metrics,” said Bastian Buck, Chief of Standards at GRI.
The updated standard, GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018, requires companies to report on water impacts in their value chain, emphasising water stewardship and urging companies to actively manage impacts in the watersheds in which they operate. The standard is, among others, based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, more specifically, Goal 6: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
The revised standard puts emphasis on collecting information on water use (e.g. withdrawal, consumption and discharge) and related impacts, including how these are dealt with across the value chain. In addition, companies should report how they manage water as a shared resource and, also, how they manage their impacts locally.
A modular approach
After releasing the GRI Standards in 2016, the standard on water and effluents is the first to be updated by GRI. The modular structure of the GRI Standards allows the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) to frequently update individual standards, on the basis of the urgency and demand from the field.
The project working group for GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 included, among others, representatives from leading water stewardship organisations (for example, the World Resources Institute, the WWF and the Pacific Institute) and members of the mining, beverage and textile industries.
“As the most used sustainability reporting framework, we see it as our responsibility to create credible and robust standards so that companies can measure and report their impacts on the people and society in a meaningful way. This information feeds into internal processes and informs decision-making – accelerating action towards sustainable development,” concluded Mr. Buck.
GRI will present the new standard and answer questions from attendees in two live webinars on 19 September.
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