Water Index Will Offer Most Comprehensive Measure of Corporate Risks and Opportunities

Posted: Wednesday 10th February 2010

The World Resources Institute, General Electric and Goldman Sachs Launch Initiative to Measure Water Risks and Opportunities.

The World Resources Institute (WRI), in partnership with General Electric (NYSE: GE) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), has launched an initiative to measure water-related risks facing companies and their investors. The initiative will develop a Water Index as a standardized approach to identify and mitigate water-related corporate risk.

The Index will offer one of the most expansive measures of water risks currently available. It will aggregate nearly 20 weighted factors capturing water availability, regulations, water quality and reputational issues.

As water resource constraints affect nearly all industries, the Water Index will be widely applicable. The Index will allow companies and investors to transparently and adequately capture the various components of water-related risk and will enable business leaders to make more well-informed investment decisions.

The Water Index will draw on publicly available data regarding physical scarcity and water quality and overlay important factors including the regulatory regime and social and reputational issues that have not previously been incorporated into water risk measurement. Ultimately, this mapping tool will allow users to combine and compare different components of the water risk assessment.

“In many regions around the world, water scarcity from climate change and pollution is starting to impact a company’s performance, yet few analysts account for water-related risks,” says Jonathan Lash, president of WRI. “WRI hopes that investors will begin ‘pricing in’ these under-appreciated risks, driving investments to support more hydrologically efficient designs and technologies.”

From the perspective of General Electric and Goldman Sachs, the Water Index will allow each firm to better advise customers and clients on water-related risks and opportunities.

“From a technology perspective, solutions to enable water reuse and mitigate risk already exist,” said Heiner Markhoff, president and CEO—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water. “Advanced solutions, such as membrane technology and water-efficient cooling technologies, are available to manage the risks once these are identified and measured, which is what the Water Index aims to do. We are thrilled to work with WRI and Goldman Sachs on this project.”

“Many environmental factors, including water, pose both challenges and opportunities for investors and businesses,” says Tracy Wolstencroft, global head of environmental markets for Goldman Sachs. “The Water Index will provide valuable insights that can inform investment decisions and will help identify new opportunities across sectors and geographies.”

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