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GOAL FF02 | Business inputs

Water use is environmentally responsible and socially equitable

A Future-Fit Business protects freshwater resources by minimizing water consumption in its commercial and industrial activities, and by ensuring its discharges do not degrade the water quality of receiving watersheds.

What this goal means

Fresh water is crucial to people’s health, for drinking, cooking and sanitation. Through excessive withdrawals of water, discharge of polluted wastewater, or by adversely affecting the characteristics of any withdrawn water before returning it to nature, a company may undermine the quantity, quality, and availability of water that flora, fauna and communities rely upon.

The responsible use of water is a complex issue. Impacts must be addressed at a local watershed level, because systems can be affected by the removal of water from an area, the introduction of additional water, timing differences between withdrawals and discharges, and changes in water quality and other water characteristics such as heat and pH levels.

Companies must ensure that their use of water doesn’t undermine the quantity and quality of water available for people and ecosystems that depend on the watersheds concerned.

To be Future-Fit a company must:

  1. Minimize – and in water-stressed regions eventually eliminate – its consumption of water for industrial and commercial purposes; and
  2. Ensure that any discharges do not degrade the quality of the receiving rtter bodies, the health of receiving soils, or in any other way cause harm to ecosystems or people.

Why this goal is needed...

Access to clean water is a fundamental human right.

Yet an estimated 2.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe, readily available drinking water at home.

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

By 2050, an estimated additional 1.8 billion people may be living in water-stressed areas.

This has implications for business.

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

Want to learn more about this goal?

Download the Action Guide for more information, and find out how to get started.

Version Notes


Water use is environmentally responsible and socially equitable


Release 2, initial publication.

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