The Water Crisis, an SME response
The water crisis is ranked as the biggest long-term risk that we are facing. The cause of this is simple: our demand for water is increasing despite a decreasing supply. The effects of this are less simple for people to identify. Diminishing water supply destroys wildlife, as well as our livelihood. For instance, it causes fights over water supplies and less food being produced. This has impacted farmers from Southern European regions, but also Poland, Finland, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Water scarcity puts in peril our security and our existence.
Businesses should take action. Limited water supplies reduce their productivity, damages their brand and increases their insurance costs. Moreover, it is detrimental to the development of their markets, especially in emerging markets, where there is most potential for market growth. Fortunately, businesses have taken notice. According to the 2017 Global Water Report, there was $23 billion invested by corporates in 2017.
The water crisis and the investment required to solve it may overwhelm start-ups, micro enterprises as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs). However, there are simple and cost-effective steps that they can take, because their water management is vital too. A panel of experts recently suggested the following solutions that SMEs need to take up:
1. Recognise the value of water:
The first step is to understand the importance of water. Otherwise, you can be complacent with your use of water and underinvest in water infrastructure. An SME can publish internal values guiding its team members on how to responsibly use water and create a board that oversees water consumption.
2. Measure your water footprint:
You can only manage your water if you measure how much water you are consuming (it is simple accounting). Water footprint is the measurement of water consumed throughout the supply chain (indirect consumption), and production of a product (direct consumption). Direct usage is easy to measure and can be done in-house, where as indirect is more complex. However, guidance exists for SMEs, such as the WRAP Rippleeffect programme.
3. Engage your supplier on water management:
Ask your suppliers for transparency on their water footprint. In fact, make responsible water management a requirement.
4. Use new technology:
Just like households, every office has a kitchen, a bathroom and even a shower. Ensure that leaks have been fixed. Invest in toilets and showers with responsible water usage.
It is difficult to convince businesses and individuals to care about the water crisis, because they may not be experiencing the direct costs. However, the solution to the water crisis relies on long-term vision for the sustainable development of our world.
Author: Xavier Lewis Rodriguez / Bridging to the Future