As I have posted about before, water scarcity is becoming an increasingly imperative strategic issue for global businesses. In fact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecasts that 47 percent of the world's population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030 unless new water stewardship policies are adopted.
This week, Ford Motor Company became a notable corporate leader in this important sustainability and risk arena with the announcement that it has become the first automaker to join the CDP Water Disclosure initiative.
As I'm sure you know, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) established the disclosure and reporting framework used by 2,500 of the world's largest companies to report carbon emissions. The CDP Water Disclosure initiative extends this approach to managing the world's shrinking water resources.
For example, the CDP Water Disclosure will serve as a central clearinghouse for Ford and other participating companies to report on water usage, water risks and water management plans of company operations and their supply chains.
Back in 2000, Ford launched its own voluntary Global Water Management Initiative, which included water conservation, reuse of storm and process water and management of water quality. And the results so far have been impressive: from 2000 to 2008, Ford cut its global water use by 56 percent, or 9.5 billion gallons.
The company achieved this goal through a broad range of actions, including tracking and minimizing water use during plant downtimes, optimizing cooling tower operations, and investing in advanced technologies. The Chihuahua Engine Plant in Mexico, for instance, uses a reverse osmosis process to recycle water for use in production processes, thus avoiding the need to use higher quality water that is suitable for human consumption.
"Water scarcity is quickly becoming a critical global issue with significant social and environmental implications and all of us need to be part of the solution," says Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. "For the past decade, Ford has made it a priority to conserve water. Joining CDP Water Disclosure is another important step in our commitment to this issue."