The CEO Water Mandate and Corporate Water Reporting - A content study assessing the quality of corporate sustainability reporting by participating companies to the UN Global Compact initiative on water
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Climate change paired with global growth of populations and economies demands improved water resource governance. Freshwater is irregularly and unevenly distributed in a global context. The environmental and social impacts from trading water either for direct consumption, or as an indirect resource in production processes have alerted civil society, governments and corporations of the need for corporate water management. The CEO Water Mandate, which is a water initiative under the umbrella of the United Nations Global Compact, has since 2007 encouraged business leaders to measure and improve upon several aspects of freshwater in their respective companies and industries, not only in direct operations but also how water withdrawals are affecting local communities and ecosystems. This study describes concepts and corporate reporting practices that relate to water. It also provides a method for assessing the quality of such reporting in order to give recommendations for improvements of corporate reporting practices. The study first introduces the topic, followed by a description of methods and materials used to answer the research questions. The theoretical framework presents concepts and initiatives that relate to water as a global resource, and corporate management practices aimed at tackling the challenges of water. The CEO Water Mandate is presented briefly, and the content of the reporting published by the companies that endorse the Mandate is analyzed in light of quality indicators the theoretical framework. Content analysis is applied to link the corporate reporting on water to the global challenges of water. The result of this study is a set of recommendations for improving the corporate water reporting, and hence the management practices, of water-intensive, global industries.