Water is a sector that has long been resistant to change, but escalating water shortages and pollution mean serious money is now flowing into solutions. Mike Scott reports
Cape Town’s declaration late last year that it would run out of water in April 2018 if urgent action was not taken to conserve it captured the attention of the world. The drought-hit South African city has averted “Day Zero” for now, but only by introducing stringent conservation measures that at one point cut consumption to 50 litres per person daily, compared with the average Californian daily usage of 387 litres.
Cape Town is not an isolated example: cities from Los Angeles to London and Beijing to Bangalore are at risk of water stress. There will be a 40% shortfall in global water availability by 2030, according to the UN. When water runs short, the media focus tends to be on households, but businesses suffer significant impacts too. “Business needs water to heat, cool, clean and as an ingredient. But get it wrong, the consequences can be devastating and costly to the bottom line and to reputations,” points out PwC.
According to the UN Global Compact initiative CEO Water Mandate, water risks to business generally fall into three categories: physical – not having enough clean, affordable water, when and where you need it, to run your factories and business; regulatory –...