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GOAL FF02 | Business inputs

Water use is environmentally responsible and socially equitable

A Future-Fit Business protects freshwater reserves by eliminating all water use in areas that suffer from water stress, and by ensuring its liquid discharges do not degrade the water quality of receiving watersheds.

What this goal means

Fresh water is critical to people’s health, for drinking, cooking and sanitation. Further, by over-harvesting water, discharging polluted wastewater, or taking too much water from one source and returning it to another, a company may undermine the balance, quality, and availability of water that flora, fauna and communities rely upon, resulting in the degradation of ecosystems.

Water use is a complex issue. Impacts vary at a local catchment level, they depend on where water is withdrawn from and returned to, and they can also arise from changes in water quality.

Companies must ensure that their water use in no way undermines the availability and quality of water for people and ecosystems that depend on the watersheds concerned.

To be Future-Fit a company must:

  1. Reduce and eventually eliminate its reliance on water from water stressed regions;
  2. Ensure that any liquids discharged do not degrade the quality of the receiving water bodies, the health of receiving soils, or in any other way cause harm to ecosystems or people.

Note that this encompasses all types of liquids that can be classified as either water discharge, effluent or wastewater.

Why this goal is needed...

Access to clean water is a fundamental human right.

Yet many people worldwide lack access; some 2.1 billion.

Increasing demand, coupled with changing weather patterns, are placing many global water reserves under greater strain.

By 2050, an estimated additional 1.0-1.3 billion people will be living in areas with over-exploited water conditions.

This has implications for business...

The International Food Policy Research Institute estimates that water stress will put 45% of GDP at risk by 2050.

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