The below is an excerpt from an article written by CDP's Cate Lamb originally published in BusinessGreen. View the original here.
Water security is a financial risk for companies, warns CDP's Cate Lamb, but some firms are using nature-based solutions to reduce risk and save money.
World Water Week kicks of next week putting the world's eyes on water management issues, from piping to purification. Given the recent extreme weather including flooding and heatwaves, urgent solutions to water security challenges have risen up on the agenda.
CDP's latest analysis shows that the private sector is not only increasingly aware of water risks, with companies reporting a total of 3,770 water risks last year, but alive to solutions that can be scaled up around the world. One particularly noticeable trend is the number of firms turning to nature itself for the best ways to use water more efficiently and manage it more effectively.
Grey solutions to green ones
Water security efforts in the past largely used traditional 'grey' initiatives, with companies relying on infrastructure solutions such as pumps and desalination plants. And while these machine-based approaches are crucial and still have an immense amount to contribute to water security, the appeal of more natural systems such as the installing of wetlands to help purify water or introducing reforestation to encourage more fresh, clean water, may offer significantly greater returns on investment.
Mounting evidence is giving companies the confidence to push ahead with nature-based solutions at scale. Meanwhile, the financial incentives for innovation are huge.
Trend analysis of CDP's corporate water dataset by environmental consulting group SPG has seen these solutions increase from 32 per cent of projects in 2015 to 40 per cent in 2017.
Encouragingly, these projects also tend to have a less daunting price tag, with companies reporting investments that are, on average, four times lower than more traditional actions such as the development of grey infrastructure.
Working towards a water-secure world
The benefits of nature-based solutions are plentiful and go far beyond corporate resilience to improving ecosystems, positively impacting local communities and improving public health. This World Water Week, we encourage companies to embrace nature-based solutions to water management and to consider the role these can play in securing their business both today and in the future.