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Water stewardship is an essential concept in today’s world, where water scarcity and pollution pose significant challenges to environmental sustainability and economic development. As industries continue to grow and urban populations expand, the demand for water is rapidly increasing, placing immense pressure on finite water resources. In this context, water stewardship plays a crucial role in promoting responsible water use, conserving water resources, and safeguarding the environment. Shared below are a few prominent initiatives and the facts supporting the same.

  • Water Demand Projection: Water demand for manufacturing industries is forecasted to increase by 400% between 2000 and 2050, reaching a global demand of 6,900 km3 (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD).
  • Sustainable Water Supply: The sustainable water supply is approximately 4,200 km3 annually (OECD). The United Nations reports that nearly 2.2 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water (“Sustainable Development Goal 6,” United Nations).
  • Integration of Water Management: Industries must integrate water management into their ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) strategies to address the impending water crisis. According to the CDP Global Water Report 2020, 89% of companies report water-related risks that could substantially change their business, strategy, or financial planning.
  • Water Footprint Management: Forward-thinking organizations recognize the necessity of actively managing their water footprints across various sectors, including agriculture, industry, and urban development. Industries account for approximately 22% of global water usage, making them significant contributors to water stress (“Industry Water Use,” Pacific Institute).
  • Assessment of Water Footprint: Evaluating water consumption associated with each product, including water used by secondary suppliers such as agriculture and refineries, is vital. The Water Footprint Network states that producing one kilogram of beef requires about 15,500 liters of water, illustrating the significant water footprint of certain products.
  • Understanding Source Ingredient Footprints: Understanding the water footprint of source ingredients is crucial for effective water management strategies. The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2050, agricultural water consumption will increase by 19% globally due to population growth and dietary changes.
  • Monitoring Production Process Impacts: Monitoring and evaluating the impacts of production processes on water quality, including potential contamination of groundwater due to chemicals, is essential. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that industrial facilities are responsible for approximately 30% of all toxic pollution discharged to surface waters in the United States.
  • Mitigation of Water-Related Risks: Industries prioritize mitigating water-related risks by addressing their water footprint in production. The World Bank estimates that water scarcity and pollution could cost the global economy up to 6% of GDP by 2050, highlighting the economic risks associated with water-related challenges.
  • Consideration of Factors: Factors like watershed capacity, water quality decline, infrastructure reliability, regulatory impacts, and stakeholder concerns must be considered in accounting for water footprints. The World Wildlife Fund reports that over 30% of the world’s largest groundwater systems are already in distress due to excessive water extraction and contamination.
  • Circular Economy Model: Sustainable water management through the lens of the circular economy model emphasizes reducing, reusing, recycling, and recovering water resources. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that by shifting to a circular economy, the global economy could save up to $3.7 trillion annually and reduce global freshwater demand by up to 11% by 2050.

By integrating water management practices into business strategies and operations, organizations can mitigate risks, enhance resilience, and contribute to a more sustainable future for all. To learn more about water stewardship and sustainable water management encouraging sustainable farming practices and how it can shape the future of agriculture, view this infographic.

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