Water is one of those resources that is both wasted and undervalued—according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 47% of the world's population will live in "areas of high water stress" by 2030 if conservation policies aren't implemented. And climate change (read: unpredictable weather) will only increase the problem in the coming years. That's why it makes sense that the Carbon Disclosure Project, a U.K.-based nonprofit that has the largest database of corporate climate change information in the world, is targeting water with the CDP Water Disclosure project.
The project, launched this week, asks over 300 of the world's biggest companies to report their water use on behalf of 137 major financial institutions that have signed a request for information. Questions on the CDP's 11-page questionnaire (PDF) deal with everything from water use in supply chains to regulatory risks related to water.
Some companies are jumping at the opportunity to take part in the project—we have already received eager press releases from Molson Coors and Ford detailing their participation. Other companies that have signed on include L'Oreal, Reed Elsevier, and PepsiCo.
The information contained in the questionnaire is ultra-important to investors, but it's not going to be easy for companies to fill out. While it might be simple enough to detail water use of internal operations, getting suppliers to reveal their water usage statistics isn't quite as easy. Still, it's better that major companies hash out their water issues now instead of 20 years down the line—by then, it might be too late to fix them.