Select learnings from NPP research and discussions

Applying Net Positive

Net Positive Water Impact

Net Positive Water Impact: Summary and Implications - Water Applications

What is the topic and the challenge being addressed?
  • Water use, from extraction to consumer use. Challenges include: Human toxicity, ecotoxicity, water scarcity, acidification, eutrophication
What are the major trends and initiatives in the field?
  • Freshwater species abundance has declined by up to 81% between 1970 and 2012
  • 3900 children die every day from water borne diseases
  • 1 out of 6 people lack access to safe drinking water
  • 8 Mighty rivers are running dry from overuse, greatly affecting humans and ecosystems (Colorado, Indus, Amu Darya, Syr Darya, Rio Grande, Yellow, Teesta and Murray)
What is current progress, and is it on track?
  • The International Resource Panel state that without altering current levels of consumption, almost half the world’s population will experience severe water stress by 2030
What could net positive change / outcomes look like?
  • The Net Positive framing can help corporates to set targets which go beyond minimizing pollution or reducing water use, and instead, focus on increasing access to freshwater supplies.
What is the role of the private sector?
  • Corporates rely on water supplies right across the value chain, from agriculture and material extraction, to manufacture, to consumer use. The availability of water in the right place and at the right quality can pose a significant risk to business.
What are other key stakeholders, frameworks, etc. (select examples)?
  • Freshwater Living Planet Index
  • Water Use in LCA (WULCA)
  • ISO 14046
  • World Resources Institute
  • Qantis- Water Stewardship Benefits Accounting
  • WWF- Water Stewardship Framework
  • Courtauld Commitment 2025- WRAP
  • Context-based Water Targets

Net Positive Water Impact: Water Applications


Focusing on what matters most
  • Companies must address the biggest risks to their business, and to their local communities and the underpinning ecosystems right across the value chain from extraction to use.
  • Targets must be informed by local stakeholders
  • Action must be taken in the areas where the extraction takes place.
  • Action must be taken where the company has most impact by volume, but also where that impact has the biggest effect on the local community and underpinning ecosystems.
  • The timing as well as location of water extraction as well as the impact on water quality is also important.


Creating long-term, sustained and absolute impact
  • Companies must seek to actively replenish water systems, not just reduce negative impact.
  • Companies must ensure that their interventions enable watersheds to sustain themselves without continued activities from the company, for example by ensuring that effective policies are in place and that there are being implemented effectively
  • Companies must address local water issues in a way that is appropriate to the local context.


Influencing change across entire systems
  • Companies must address issues at a watershed or landscape level
  • Targets must be context specific.
  • Companies must drive collective action for sustainable management of local watersheds.
  • Companies must lobby for the adoption of smart and resilient water policies by governments and other companies locally.
  • Where impacts occur in the use-phase, companies must seek to influence consumer behavior.
  • Companies must seek to influence water governance locally and lobby for the need of local communities to be met


Sharing progress openly and honestly
  • The full range of water impacts should be described comprehensively and quantitatively with a defined strategy and action plan to reduce those negative impacts and enhance positive impacts.
  • Reporting should reflect information within the appropriate context (potentially e.g. at watershed or landscape level)
  • Targets and progress should be published publicly and verified by recognized authorities with local expertise.
  • Companies must share best practice with NGOs, government and business