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How To Build A Resilient Business Through Water Action

Operational resilience is the ability of an organisation and its infrastructure to avoid, cope and recover from disruption. It also involves long-term resilience to environmental pressures, demographic change, shifts in customer behaviour and the impacts of climate change.

It’s easy to take water for granted. Water is the most abundant resource on our Earth. And on the surface, our supply is plentiful. Scratch a little under the surface and you begin to understand the stress our water resource is under, with its management now considered one of the greatest risks to business continuity and growth.

The unpredictability of our future creates challenges. But resilient organisations will be prepared for anything, evolving to suit our rapidly changing world, and securing their long-term success.

Forbes recently listed ‘sustainable, resilient operations’ as their biggest business trend for 2022.

 

Building resilience through water

It’s important for organisations to take action now, building both adaptability and flexibility into their long-term plans. So how does water action today build a prepared and resilient organisation of the future?

Water action helps to…

Unlock business-critical data

Data is an increasing area of focus. So much so, the Bank of England now expect all organisations to consider the thematic findings and any work they may need to do to improve their data related to regulatory reporting.

Understanding gaps in your water data and working to reduce your exposure is central to effective water management and reporting. Data exposure can include missing consumption data from unmetered or gap supplies, missing service components in billing or missing trade effluent consents.

Data exposure needs to first be quantified, and then appropriate actions taken to reduce and mitigate this risk. With quality, accurate data, you can effectively plan for the future using real numbers (not assumptions) to ensure resilience and continuity in the face of climate change.

Consequently, if data gaps are left unresolved in the short-term, this can lead to financial liabilities from uncontrolled consumption, backbilling and legislative fines.

digital image of world full of data

Water action helps to…

Limit regulatory and legislative risk and repercussions

There are a number of regulatory and legislative risks around water management both from a water usage and water pollution aspect. Organisations need to be compliant with abstraction licences, trade effluent consents, discharge licences just to name a few. Processes need to be established and enacted to ensure continual compliance. A breach of legislation can lead to substantial penalties and reputational damage, which could impact the ongoing success of your business.

To stem the gap between government goals and corporate action, the incoming Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board have specified that water should be incorporated into organisational risk management and action plans.

 

Water action helps to…

Create positive social, environmental and commercial impact

With access to reliable, accurate water data, you can identify and target sites that will provide greatest environmental, social and financial return on your water action plans.

Generally speaking, it isn’t practical or viable to operate a national estate universally on a nominal amount of water. All sites differ in their supply of water and usage. So, a plan needs to be put in place to prioritise and target sites that are applicable and prove greatest return. Whether that is a carbon return or where water availability and equitable use of water is an issue.

Not only will this have a long-term positive impact on the local community, but you also become more resilient to climate change – reducing your dependence on our finite natural resources.

 

Water action helps to…

Build effective contingency plans

How do you ensure your site/s remain operational in the event of loss of water supply, or intermittent supply?

Between 2025 and 2050, we’ll need more than 3.4 billion litres of extra water every day. That’s over 1000 Olympic swimming pools, for England alone, just to meet demand. Stuart Sampson from The Environment Agency highlighted that unless proactive action is taken, the UK will simply run out of water by 2045.

By identifying your operationally critical site/s, analysing your water risk, and developing an appropriate plan to mitigate the risks identified, you can rest assured the continuity of your operations into the future. And importantly, help to secure water for generations to come.

Water is a resource under increased stress due to a convergence of factors, with its management now cited as one of the greatest risks to business continuity and growth. Discover the five commercial risks of water scarcity, and what you can do.

 

Water action helps to…

Adapt to social and cultural shifts

Customers, investors and other stakeholders are switching on to water, and businesses are having to adapt and respond to their growing expectations to remain relevant and in favour. CDP revealed that 5,537 businesses were asked to disclose water data by their investors or customers in 2020 but only 50% were able to comply with this request.

Businesses who do adapt to meet the needs of their many stakeholders will:

  • Experience enhanced loyalty [1]
  • Build trust [1]
  • Be awarded higher valuation premiums by investors [2]
  • Realise higher earnings of 3.1 percentage points, as measured by EBITDA, and gross margins 5.5 percentage points greater [2]

 

Organisations like Coca-Cola, Sainsbury’s, Whitbread and BT are taking action now to build resilience and ensure continuity. Want to know how? We’ve developed a simple 10 step plan to help you become more resilient to the impacts of climate change and to secure your water future.

To download the plan, first test your water knowledge and complete the water quiz, then download the 10 step plan at the end.

 

1 https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesnycouncil/2018/11/21/do-customers-really-care-about-your-environmental-impact/?sh=2e31de7a240d

2 https://www.bcg.com/publications/2018/tapping-business-benefits-sustainable-water-investments