Whether water is used as a resource for economic production or for human health and wellbeing, water resources often sit at the heart of business and community success and health. The RBA Code of Conduct requires a water management program that documents, characterizes, and monitors water sources, use and discharge; seeks opportunities to conserve water; and controls channels of contamination. However, without contextualizing conditions and geographic location of use, it is often not possible for a facility to account for the true impact of their water use on local communities, which depend on the same water resources, or account for possible business impacts due to water incidents such as flooding or drought. True water stewardship must account for the holistic value of water and is required for companies to meet their responsible business conduct commitments.
Several supply chain factors, including facility location, activity, and manufactured products, impact the categorization of water as a critical environmental issue. This determination is typically dependent on company and supplier activity and location. Additionally, the geographic nature of water regulation and use hinders the ability to provide broad solutions and policies. The changing landscape of water availability and quality make water an increasingly prominent environmental issue for RBA members.
The transition from water management to water stewardship requires expertise and guidance. The Alliance for Water Stewardship has led the development of tools and guidance across many industries, improving local water uses and building business resiliency to increasingly erratic water conditions. As the RBA partners with the Alliance for Water Stewardship to advance engagement and practices within our industries, we continue to develop tools and resources to build water stewardship capacity and knowledge.
Through the Water Survey, available in RBA-Online, companies can receive information on their suppliers’ water use and stewardship. The survey aligns to leading industry practices identified by the Alliance for Water Stewardship and WWF Water Risk Filter so that collected data not only drive internal decision making, but also can be used in the latest risk and maturity assessment tools. By understanding not only the facility operations but also the localized context, RBA members and their suppliers can be empowered to transition to better water stewardship practices.