New mapping tool provides unprecedented ability to assess water risk

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Aqueduct provides companies with comprehensive, high-resolution picture of water risks worldwide.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) today launched a new online tool that maps water risk worldwide based on the most current, highest resolution data available. Companies, investors, and governments can use the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas to see how water stress will affect operations locally and globally, and help prioritize investments that will increase water security.

The online tool was developed by WRI, working with founding members of the Aqueduct Alliance, GE and Goldman Sachs, as well as Skoll Global Threats Fund, Shell, Bloomberg, Talisman Energy, Dow, United Technologies (UTC), DuPont, John Deere, Veolia Water, and the Dutch and Swedish governments.

The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas is a customizable global map, based on 12 indicators of physical, regulatory, and reputational risk. In a user-friendly way, companies can now evaluate how water stress, flood occurrence, access to water, drought, and other issues may affect operations. Additionally, the global map can be tailored specifically for nine water-intense industry sectors - from oil and gas, to agriculture, to chemicals.

“Recent history is littered with companies that failed to anticipate emerging threats. Water scarcity is one such threat. Thankfully, forward-thinking business leaders are starting to get it. They understand that water risk is one of the top issues that they face,” said Andrew Steer, President, World Resources Institute. “This new platform will provide companies with comprehensive, high-resolution tools to measure water risk. It gives them an unprecedented ability to understand and better manage these risks.”

Companies have already been using earlier versions of the Aqueduct tool to understand how their operations and supply chains may be exposed to water risk. For example:

  • McDonalds has asked 353 of its global suppliers’ facilities to use Aqueduct to assess their local water risk;
  • Procter & Gamble, Owens-Corning, and AU Optronics have used Aqueduct to understand how local water supply, quality, and other risk factors may affect their global facilities, and to prioritize water efficiency and other investments;
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch used Aqueduct to inform investors about water risks and opportunities in a recently released research report; and
  • Companies used Aqueduct to disclose and report on external water risk in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) 2012 Global Water Report.

“Aqueduct’s global water risk map provides an innovative tool and important step forward in understanding critical water issues,” said Kyung-Ah Park, Head of the Environmental Markets Group at Goldman Sachs. “Assessing risk is challenging, and even more so with complex issues like water. Aqueduct provides a much more complete picture of the water issues affecting business globally than we’ve had before.”

Through the Atlas, users can plot the locations that matter most to them – from facilities, to suppliers, to potential new markets or proposed power plants – and compare those locations’ potential exposure to water stress and risk. They can also review maps of individual indicators, such as seasonal variability, which may be highly important to their operations.

“GE knows first-hand that water scarcity is a major challenge in many parts of the world,” said Heiner Markhoff, President and CEO of GE Water. “We’re very pleased that Aqueduct’s new global water risk maps will enhance understanding of these risks in ways that enable society to address them more effectively.”

The release of the global Water Risk Atlas is the culmination of a three-year effort by WRI to create a peer-reviewed and robust methodology for mapping complex water security around the world.

“Aqueduct’s global water risk mapping information is a valuable tool for understanding and addressing the pressing global threat of water security,” said Sylvia Lee, Water Manager, Skoll Global Threats Fund. “We understand that water is not just an environmental issue, but a real and substantial risk to communities, economies, and businesses. The new global water risk maps make it easier than ever to research and understand where in the world these risks are greatest, and where action is most needed.”

On Thursday January 31, WRI is hosting a public webinar to showcase the new Aqueduct water risk mapping tool – see information below.

On February 8, water experts from leading companies will participate in the “Water: Emerging Risks and Opportunities Summit” co-hosted by GE Power & Water, Goldman Sachs, and WRI at Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York City. For more information, contact Kevin Smith from Goldman Sachs at kevin.m.smith@gs.com.

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