Valuing Water: How Can Businesses Manage the Coming Scarcity?Published: March 16, 2011 in Knowledge@Wharton
Water is a paradoxical commodity: It seems free and plentiful, yet its supply is under tremendous strain. Use of fresh water has more than doubled in the past 50 years, and many fear that we are coming close to a frightening breaking point, a world where chronic water shortages for farmers, businesses and people are the norm. Some experts even see international conflict emerging over access to dwindling supplies. Recognizing these concerns, companies are undertaking major programs to realign their water use with core business and humanitarian interests. But while objectives like being "water neutral" and using "footprinting" -- tracking the use of water throughout the supply chain -- are ambitious, what is being done to achieve them? Are these goals realistic, and will they have enough impact? This special report addresses these questions.