The WBCSD Global Water Tool©

The Global Water Tool (GWT) is a free, publicly available resource for identifying corporate water risks and opportunities which provides easy access to and analysis of critical data. It includes a workbook (data input, inventory by site, key reporting indicators, metrics calculations), a mapping function to plot sites with datasets, and Google Earth interface for spatial viewing.

By comparing your sites with the best available water, sanitation, population and biodiversity information on a country and watershed basis, including sub-basin data, the tool allows to answer the following questions:

  • How many of your sites are in extremely water-scarce areas? Which sites are at greatest risk? How that will change in the future?
  • How much of your total production is generated from your most at risk sites?
  • How many of your employees live in countries that lack access to improved water and sanitation?
  • How many of your suppliers are in water scarce areas now and will be in 2025?

Support to companies operating in multiple countries to start the journey of water management …

Users can quickly map their locations and water use data against water, sanitation, population and biodiversity datasets and stress indicators on a country and watershed basis, with future outlook, and in turn assess risks related to their global operations, supply chains, new projects and prioritize action.

Key benefits:

  • Understand water use/needs of operations in relation to local externalities (including staff presence, industrial use and supply chain, water consumption and efficiency) to make informed decisions
  • Perform a first level screening through maps or charts capturing key water performance and risk indicators of water consumption, efficiency and intensity. These metrics can then be used for communication with internal and external stakeholders and reporting under corporate disclosure initiatives like the Global Reporting Initiative, CDP Water, Bloomberg and Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

… and an input to a long-term water management strategy for minimizing risk and building long-term resilience

Understanding needs and potential water availability and quality risks at a global level is a first and essential step towards sustainable water management, but the GWT does not provide specific guidance on local situations.

  • The global analysis supported by the tool can guide a deeper understanding of local communities' water situations, and help prioritize actions for high risk sites with detailed response plans elaborated at local/site level.
  • The tool can be used in combination with other tools to support decision-making such as a company’s internal environmental data tracking tool, and is compatible with GEMI’s Local Water ToolTM to build water management plans at a specific site or operation.

A robust strategy for minimizing risk and building long-term resilience will take into account community engagement, supply chain and watershed management, transparency and public policy.

  • A comprehensive corporate water management strategy and holistic water stewardship approaches can also follow the global analysis, enabling effective communication/ reporting and dialogue with both internal and external stakeholders (including for instance the development of internal policy and guidelines, the education of supply chain partners, with consistent metrics and terminology).
  • Also, water risks should not be managed in isolation from other impacts and related tradeoffs, including land use, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions.

The GWT encourages all stakeholders to take action, whether at global, national, watershed or site level to support sustainable water management by all.

New additions to the GWT

First launched in 2007, updated in 2011 with the addition of biodiversity hotspots, new reporting metrics and summary outputs, the latest version of the GWT is to be released in March 2015 and brings in:

  • New datasets on water stress, more recent and comprehensive data, with improved modelling (WRI),
  • Updated datasets (e.g. FAO, WHO/UNICEF JMP WSS),
  • Updated reporting metrics,
  • Improved GIS-based mapping,
  • User-friendly additions (easier data import, improved navigation and offline capabilities, improved coding).

WBCSD’s Water Leadership Group stewarded the development of the Global Water Tool with financial and intellectual contributions.

  • The tool was developed by member and global engineering company CH2M HILL.
  • An advisory board of member companies in a range of industries provided deeper oversight and pilot testing for this 2015 update: BASF, DSM, DuPont, EDF, GDF Suez, Italcementi, Pepsico and Shell, with the contribution of partner organisation IPIECA.
  • The World Resources Institute and Global Reporting Initiative provided knowledge and technical input for tool development. CDP, Dow Jones Sustainability Initiative and GEMI were consulted to ensure compatibility.
  • Data provided by: the World Resources Institute, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN’s AQUASTAT, World Health Organization & UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, United Nations Population Division, International Water Management Institute and Conservation International

Instructions and Definitions tabs are available within the tool for further information. Please have a look at them before using the tool to fully understand its functionalities. The user guide, FAQs and dataset details can be downloaded below.

The Global Water Tool family

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