COMMISSIONS AND WORKING GROUPS
This publication is the result of work by the Health and Environment Commission between 2013 and 2015. It brings together the experience and best practices of EpE members in the area of health and environment dialogue with the stakeholders.
Issues of health and the environment now concern environmental associations, local residents and public authorities, but also clients, shareholders and the company’s entire value chain.
The publication “Environment and Health – Stakeholder dialogue” is divided into 3 parts, illustrated by concrete cases of EpE members.
« Measuring and managing water »,
a guide for companies to better evaluate their water footprint
The new EpE publication “Measuring and Managing Water”, illustrated by around forty concrete cases, is intended to companies wishing to improve their water management and in need of effective tools and experience feedback
This new publication follows the «Water Footprint Measurement» working group, active between 2012 and 2015.
Water issues for a company
Water is a source of life for companies just as it is for living things. Its multiple uses put growing pressure on this resource. Causing part of this pressure, companies depend on water resources to run their operations. This dependence means that they have to identify, map and anticipate the risks linked to water scarcity and pollution and take a long range and global look at how they interact
with their environment their water footprint.
Measuring a company’s water footprint
Once the risks have been identified and prioritised, the actual water footprint can be assessed using indicators on the volumes used in the company’s business, and the resulting impact on water quality. So the right questions have to be asked on the scope to be used: what are we measuring? Should we take a sector-based approach or take into account the entire product life cycle? Finally, which indicator should be selected for use, among existing tools? As for all types of reporting, a good indicator must be credible and acknowledged, it must be possible to reproduce it over space and time and it should be founded on science.
Action and monitoring plan
Measuring the water footprint gives a company a clear view of their water management to implement appropriate actions. Reporting gives the chance to define precise objectives and action plans to reach them. The company local sites apply and then can adapt these guidelines to a local scale. The effectiveness of actions implemented at site level, when reported, allows, if necessary, to readjust the objectives, in a continuous progress path. Participants can be involved throughout the process to make sure that the work is moving in the right direction.
The interdependence of water management with other environmental issues creates new challenges for companies, questioning assessment methods or in any case making them seem uncertain. The need to anticipate risks appears even clearer for companies when the issue becomes adapting their water management to changes caused by global climate change or new public health issues raised by micro-pollutants.
Business makes a significant contribution to scientific knowledge on the effects on properties of their products. Companies allocate a large share of their resources to research and development and work as partners with public laboratories that are encouraged to seek out private funding to complement public monies.
And yet this expertise is rarely recognised as legitimate and called upon to contribute to collective knowledge of environmental and health issues. This can be naturally explained by the presumption of a conflict of interest inherent to experts funded by private resources, in addition to commercial confidentiality issues.
What could be the terms of a new legitimacy for private-sector expertise? Would it be possible to restore credibility of the reports and studies carried out by scientists working in companies if their work conforms to strict ethical and methodological rules?
The attached “Charter on Private-Sector Expertise” is an attempt to move in this direction. It establishes a series of principles and rules that some private-sector experts and/or some sponsors of expertise will willingly agree to follow in the course of their work. The resulting expertise will then be granted more credibility, enabling them to better fulfil the needs of the entities that use such studies.
This Charter on Private-Sector Expertise is a voluntary approach and can be used to structure corporate expertise to be disclosed : in the context of participation in a multiple expertise process, or in response to an opinion issued by other scientific institutions, or within the framework of any other scientific dialogue.