Businesses must act quickly to avoid getting stuck in troubled waters

Businesses must act quickly to avoid getting stuck in troubled waters

Businesses must act quickly to avoid getting stuck in troubled waters
Businesses must act quickly to stay out of troubled waters | Photo credit: Aystok

It is able to accept itself in all its states – liquid, solid, gaseous – covers 72% of the surface of the globe, makes up 65% of our human body, including 76% of our brain … And yet this water is what hydrologist Emma Haziza likes to call ” potential water neglected, even abused.

Vicious circle

According to a study by international researchers led by the Stockholm Center for Sustainability, published at the end of April in the American journal Nature, the planetary green water limit has just been crossed. This is the second year since the announcement in January that the safety zone for chemical pollutants was exceeded, and the sixth of nine limits that should not be crossed if you hope to save the planet’s ecosystem. ” Green water is water absorbed by plants. It remains in the soil and provides them with good moisture. Allows plants to grow. explains Emma Haziza, founder of Mayane, a climate change adaptation research center.

Previously invisible to us green water was not taken into account in the analysis of the fresh water cycle, because it was difficult to assess, unlike the blue water that comes with atmospheric precipitation and is found in rivers, lakes and groundwater. Sensors all over the place make it possible to measure the height of this so-called visible water. ” Exceeding this limit means that we have destroyed our land and everything that holds water in the soil, primarily living beings and organic matter. Once we mass kill using pesticides or fungicides, we prevent soil re-oxygenation and water uptake. “, alert the scientist.

A vicious circle occurs: under the influence of drought, vegetation suffers, and the soil is depleted, crusted and weathered. During rains, water does not penetrate, but begins to run off, increasing the risk of flooding, and with it the phenomenon of landslides (the soil is no longer held by the root medium). The effect is doubly devastating because the water that could not be absorbed would enter the atmosphere and oceans to end up as heavy rains. “There will be more damage and more damage in the coming years,” Emma Haziza warns.

Rethink Models

Recent instances of early heatwaves, droughts and floods, which are expected to increase, confirm this demonstration. In this historically hot and dry month of May 2022, the soil moisture index continued to drop rapidly throughout the month. In Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, as in other regions, soils are now dry as of August 15th.

Together with blue water, green water forms soft water. The latter accounts for 2.5% of the Earth’s water, or 35.2 million billion cubic meters, according to the Cieau Water Information Center, and only 0.7% is available for drinking water production and human use. However, under pressure from demographic megatrends and disruption of the climate and water cycle, agricultural, energy and industrial models need to be fundamentally rethought. And this is on a large scale and in the short term, within three to five years. Are companies aware of the situation? Have they taken this topic head-on?

For Cédric LeCamp, manager of the Pictet Water fund, created in 2000, the answer is yes. ” As an external speaker, since these companies are not part of our investment universe, I note that some of the major French groups such as Danone Where Lorealdeveloped strategies to better control water consumption, he points. In general, companies have stepped up their efforts, especially in the last five years. »

Our partner Moody’s ESG Solutions (formerly Vigeo Eiris) confirms Danone and L’Oréal’s high marks in water management and conservation. Among the largest listed French companies, they rank first and fourth respectively in the SRD rankings for this indicator, which takes into account the reduction and optimization of water consumption, wastewater treatment and communication quality. Of the 137 SRDs audited by Moody’s, only 44 are rated because the agency believes that the topic is material to them, that is, relevant to these companies and their stakeholders.

financial risk

Given this limited spectrum, the poor students in SRD are immediately noticeable: automotive, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, mining, and metallurgy.

Is the threat of water scarcity taken into account on a broader scale? Not enough, according to the latest study published in May by the non-governmental organization CDP (ex-Carbon Disclosure Project) and think tank Planet Tracker. ” Companies are already losing billions of dollars of revenue because they do not factor water into their short, medium and long term strategic decisions.”, says Keith Lamb, global director of CDP. The study shows that a third of financial institutions ignore water issues in their investment or lending decisions. Their potential losses are estimated at $225 billion. Beyond the hippos, are more modest savers sensitive to this topic? More and more of them want to give meaning to their investments, and specialized funds are multiplying. Established in 2000, Pictet Water, a water technology, infrastructure and environmental services company, manages €9.6 billion in assets and attracts both private and institutional investors. “They have a real interest in the topic for strategic or industrial reasons, but they do not invest in any way for image reasons,” says Cédric Lecamp.

Businesses must act quickly to avoid getting stuck in troubled waters

Businesses must act quickly to avoid getting stuck in troubled waters
Water is a valuable resource that companies must conserve