Water Stewardship

  • While 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, only 2.6 percent of it is usable freshwater and 884 million people do not have access to a safe drinking water source. Corporations have a critically important role to play in addressing the freshwater crisis as their agricultural and industrial consumption increases. Presently agricultural and industrial water use account for 70 and 22 percent of total water use respectively. Good water stewardship requires responsible planning for resources and ensures the right to water for current and future generations. Recognizing the impact of industry on the planet’s limited water resources and helping companies develop sustainable water practices are a strategic priority for ICCR members.

    ICCR focuses on high-impact sectors including food and agri-business, energy production, automotive, mining, apparel and chemical companies. We urge corporations to measure and report on their water consumption and impacts, including water contamination and risks to affected communities, and seek to embed sustainability in corporate water policies and global supply chains.

    Featured ICCR Initiatives

    1. Reducing Climate-Related Water Risk. Climate-related water risks can cause substantial financial risks to businesses in a number of industries. Consequently, proactive companies are beginning to implement plans for conserving and recycling water, to both reduce associated costs and better protect against risk. During this past proxy season, investors asked Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Diamondback Energy, and Entergy to report to shareholders their policies and practices aimed at reducing climate-related water risk using quantitative indicators, and to prepare for water supply uncertainties brought on by climate change. 

    2. Water Risks in the Meat, Poultry and Dairy Sector. Water scarcity in agriculture is a growing issue. Poultry, meat and dairy companies face water scarcity risk all along their value chains, from feed production, to animal drinking water, to treatment of animal waste, and post-processing washing. Climate-related water scarcity can affect the production of animal feed in particular, leading to price spikes and reduced profitability. For the 2020 proxy season, investors asked meat producer Sanderson Farms to report its total water withdrawals as well as percentage withdrawn in regions with high or extremely high baseline water stress, percentage of its contracts with producers located in such regions, and percentage of animal feed sourced from such regions. 


    Featured Resources

    ICCR’s Statement of Principles and Recommendations for Corporate Water Stewardship

    Sets out ICCR’s expectations and recommendations regarding corporate water use and management.   

    Framing the Dialogue on the Human Right to Water: Opportunities for Multi-stakeholder Collaboration 

    Stakeholder Responsibilities In Managing Access To Water

    ICCR lays out the respective responsibilitlies for corporations, governments and investors.

    Extracting the Facts

    This joint report by Boston Common Asset Management and the Investor Environmental Health Network reviews the reporting and operational practices of 28 hydraulic fracturing companies with the goal of promoting transparency and improved operating practices. 

    Water, Land & Livelihoods

    A project of the Watershed Organization Trust, that emphasizes building resilient communities and ecosystems

    Guidance for Companies on Respecting the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation

    A comprehensive guidance for companies published by the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate.

    UUSC's Human Right to Water Campaign

    The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee's resources and featured initiatives.

    The CEO Water Mandate

    A public-private initiative designed to assist companies in developing, implementing and disclosing water sustainability policies & practices. 


    Read all

    Factory Farming

    How runoff endangers your drinking water.

    The Human Right to Water

    The Human Right to Water

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