Creating More Sustainable Campuses: Water (part 1)

2012 Wang Center Symposium “Our Thirsty Planet”, Pacific Lutheran University

Water is one of the 7 critical issues being discussed at the upcoming Rio+20 summit in Brazil. According to the Rio+20 website, by 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.

The business sector, through the production of goods and services, impacts water resources – both directly and through supply chains. Increasing demand, water scarcity and unsustainable supply, and decline in water quality all provide businesses with a range of water related risks. In response to this, the UN Global Compact created the CEO Water Mandate in July 2007, a unique public-private initiative designed to assist companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices. The water mandate covers six elements: direct operations, supply chain and watershed management, collective action, public policy, community engagement and transparency. Companies who commit to the mandate also pledge to disclose, via an annual report, how they are implementing the Mandate’s elements.

There are quite a few tools available for companies who want to measure their water performance throughout the value chain and better understand and identify water related business risks and impacts, including the WBCSD Global Water Tool, GEMI Water Sustainability and the WFN Water Footprint. We are also currently in the International Decade for Action “Water for Life” (2005-2015) and every year, World Water Day is celebrated on March 22.

In a previous blog, we looked at how a growing number of campuses are choosing to Ban Water Bottles on Campus. In this two part series, we look more broadly at a range of initiatives that business schools are taking part in to reduce the amount of water used on campus and raise awareness about issues relating to water.

Raising awareness

In association with the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA), the University of Dubai conducted a workshop on conservation of water for students, faculty and staff in 2011. Officials from DEWA emphasised the need for water conservation and showed different methods for implementing them.

The Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana organised a green round table around the topic of ‘Water and our Adjustments to Climate Change’. The round table involved noted professionals from fields of expertise on protecting water resources and social responsibility.

The Green Initiative at the Institute of Productivity & Management is focused on making the campus greener and more environmental friendly and includes a green agenda that looks at using water resources more sensibly.

Student Initiatives

Students at Pacific Lutheran University voted to impose a $20 annual fee upon themselves to improve water quality, and the University has banned bottled water sales. During a recent international case study competition at John Molson School of Business, students pushed the “Lug-a-Mug” campaign. All attendees were provided with reusable mugs to reduce the use of disposable drinking cups. The University of Victoria has a university wide Revolving Sustainability Fund for students and staff interested in organising energy and water saving projects on campus.

What is your campus doing to minimize the use of water? Share your projects in the comments area below.


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