"Water risk management" report

"Water risk management" report

March 2024. Women Action Sustainability (WAS) – the association of women executives whose objective is to ensure that sustainability is present at the senior management level of companies through female talent – has developed, joinlty with BRITA, the report "Circular transformation and sustainable development in water consumption in Spanish households and industry". The report was launched thanks to Bayer's hospitality at its facilities in Barcelona on March 18, 2024.

The WAS Water Working Group – responsable for preparing the report – has denounced the need for an integrated management of water resources that applies the principles of the circular economy, delving into the situation of a prolonged drought affecting Southern Europe, in general, and Spain in particular. In this way, the report highlights the global challenge we face due to the scarcity of water resulting from, among other factors, pollution, population growth and climate change.

The study provides data on per capita water consumption in Spain: the average is 138 litres per day, exceeding the European Union average of 126 litres. In this regard, 89% of Spaniards report being very aware of  the problem of water scarcity; and while 50% of those surveyed responded that they have never experienced such scarcity in their home or community, 46% affirmed the .opposite. Faced with this situation, the vast majority of respondents (98%) confirm they implement water conservation measures in their homes, such as reusing, using more efficient programs in their appliances, reducing shower time or turning off the tap while not in use, among other practices.

In addition, the report looks at how localized water stress and prolonged droughts affect agriculture, industry and communities: across the European Union, water scarcity casts its shadow on 11% of the population and affects 17% of its land area. This impact significantly influences production costs and the profitability of businesses in Europe, especially in industries that require substantial amounts of water, amounting to the figure of 120 billion euros per year.

Almost 50% of Spaniards have experienced problems arising from drought in their home or community

98% say they have measures in place in their homes to combat water scarcity

  • This is the conclusion of the report prepared by Women Action Sustainability (WAS), in collaboration with Bayer and BRITA, which addresses the global challenge we face due to water scarcity in Spain and Europe
  • Approximately only 1% of water resources are available as freshwater; most of the water on Earth is unfit for human consumption or trapped in glaciers
  • Per capita water consumption in Spain, at an average of 138 litres per day, exceeds the EU average of 126 litres
  • Climate change, population growth, pollution, increased demand for food and an aging water infrastructure are among the main drivers of water risk.

At the launch of the report, the president of WAS, Mónica Chao, stressed the need to address water risk in Europe "with a holistic approach that considers the growing needs for industrial and agricultural uses, combined with urban uses and risks or for changes in climate, which add to the traditional complexity of water management. We believe that companies must adapt, collaborate and comply with regulations for resilient and sustainable water management across the continent, for a prosperous and healthy future for all."

Clare López-Wright, managing director of BRITA Iberia and partner of WAS, expressed her excitement when presenting this new report at the launching event in Barcelona: "The main objective is to provide businesses and consumers with practical information that inspires proactive water risk management, addressing the nuanced intersection of the challenges and opportunities we face in our daily lives. We also detail the action plans of companies that have successfully implemented strategies focused on water risk management, and how they have benefited from them, thus offering a practical view of how various companies, in different industries and regions, have implemented effective water risk management."

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion entitled "Opportunities for businesses, best practices and support for SMEs to take action". Nuria Capdevila Roig, CEO of Circle Corporation and Circular Packing Solutions and partner of WAS, moderated this debate, which included the participation of Laura Dieguez, Director of Communication, Public Affairs and Sustainability of Bayer and partner of WAS; Mariano González, CEO of Canal Isabel II; Jokin Larrauri, Vice President Smart Water at Schneider Electric; and Agustí Figueras, CEO of ABM and Director of the Hydraulic and Water Engineering Area.

During the meeting, the experts developed a roadmap for companies and consumers to have the necessary information to manage the risk associated with water scarcity, raising awareness of emerging trends at both domestic and industrial levels.

Laura Dieguez, (Bayer and Partner of WAS) gave as an example some of the practices they are implementing to manage risk: "Bayer has established concrete commitments on water by 2030 throughout the value chain and also contributes with innovation. As an example, in agriculture, a sector that uses 70% of the world's fresh water, Bayer has developed a rice cultivation system that improves water use per kilogram by 25%. Given the global consumption of rice, the ability to make an impact is very important."

Jokin Larrauri (Schneider Electric) also detailed some of the initiatives they have underway: "Schneider has 250 factories in 55 countries, of which 77 are located in water-stressed areas. On r the latter, we have committed by 2025 to have 100% coverage in the implementation of our Water Conservation Plan. Since 2018, when we marked our baseline year of measurement, we have reduced our water consumption by 50% in all our facilities to date."

Agustí Figueras (ABM) stressed the need to promote greater awareness as a society: "Water is not an infinite resource. As a close and current example, we have the current episodes of drought that are hitting the Mediterranean coast, especially affecting agriculture and industry. Short-term solutions are limited and require some time to be implemented. Therefore, a strategy and real actions (both at the legislative, administrative, economic activities and citizen levels) must be proposed in the medium and long term that allow greater resilience with respect to water resources, especially in the scenario of climate change with a 20% decrease in available water resources".

Finally, Nuria Capdevila Roig (Circle Corporation and Circular Packing Solutions) explained how the idea of this report started: "When we joined WAS, we explored various working groups and realized the urgent need to address the epicenter of climate change: the scarcity of water resources. In addition, we had the expertise of Clare López-Wright, an expert in the water vector. That is how we created the group dedicated to water and simultaneously developed our first report. In it, we involve the entire value chain: governments, institutions, public and private companies, as well as citizens, with the aim of contributing significantly to sustainable water management and responsible business development."