ACCA wants water to be taken seriously

Businesses should account for their water use in the same way they account
for their carbon output, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
says, as it believes government control of water supplies could become a
business issue in the future.

Compiled in association with the World Wildlife Fund with comments from
SABMiller’s head of sustainability, Andy Wales, ACCA’s paper, ‘Water: The next
carbon?’ argues that water will join the regulatory burden on UK business. It
believes the number of water extraction licences issues internationally may
decrease, pushing supply prices up, impacting both the cost of business and
businesses’ impact on the environment.

It adds that business must consider reputational damage around water supplies
citing the example of coffee chain Starbucks, which received criticism in 2008
when news broke that in keeping taps running constantly across its operations,
it was wasting 23.4m litres of water every day.

The UK government announced this year that it would set targets to reduce the
effects of climate change by 2050. It is currently in discussions with the World
Business Council for Sustainable Development, which recently published a
document highlighting the need for businesses to integrate water and energy
measurement tools and policies into company reporting.

ACCA’s report outlines how sustainable sources of water underpin economic
growth and security and can help combat the effects of climate change. It also
discusses the effects water scarcity could have on business, from a financial
and operational perspective.

Issues discussed include:water as a key business risk; water footprinting
guidelines for companies; public-private partnerships; corporate water
management best practice; and mainstream investor interest in water.

‘UK businesses should be addressing and reporting on the importance of water
resources and management in their operations, as well as upstream and downstrea
m activities, one element of which is calculating the water footprint,’ says
Vicky McAllister, sustainability advisor at ACCA.

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