Water is changing industrial strategies

Population growth, urban and farm development, climate change and the resulting growth in demand for fresh water are transforming the development strategies, production methods and business models of industries around the world.

These are the findings of an opinion poll of over 1200 sustainability experts conducted by GlobeScan, an international research firm, and SustainAbility, a business strategy consultancy.

According to this study, the scarcity of drinking water will soon impact all business sectors. For example, executives who plan to establishing factories in China will have to consider the consequences of rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers which feed some of the country’s most important rivers. In the United States, manufacturers may have to relocate their factories from the increasingly dry Southwest to the Great Lakes region, where water is more abundant.

The GlobeScan and SustainAbility survey involved 15,000 people in 80 countries and has demonstrated that water scarcity and water pollution are regarded as the world’s top environmental concerns. Consequently in the 21st century companies will have to adopt business practices centred on water conservation and efficiency, ecosystem protection and public education.

For example, agricultural businesses will have to develop even more efficient irrigation systems. Household appliance manufacturers will have to indicate the water consumption of their products alongside the power consumption ratings. Even apparel manufacturers may develop textiles which require less frequent washing, and so on. As always happens, companies that prepare for this change before it happens will perform better on the market, in addition to conserving our most precious asset: water.