Water Strategy Approach
Ford’s new water strategy looks at our water use from both an environmental and a social perspective.
Over the past year, we set up a cross-functional team from across Ford divisions – including our environmental quality, manufacturing, purchasing and community engagement functions – to review water issues in a more holistic way. This team has been meeting with a variety of groups – such as the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), the U.N. Global Compact, the U.S. State Department, the Global Water Challenge and Circle of Blue – to gain a better appreciation of outside stakeholder perspectives.
Also in 2010, we became a founding responder to Water Disclosure, a Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) initiative that launched in late 2009 to help institutional investors better understand the business risks and opportunities associated with water scarcity and related issues. The CDP’s original project focused on corporate disclosures of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change strategies, and we found our participation in that project to be very beneficial in helping us formulate our strategy for GHG reporting. We anticipate similar benefits from CDP Water Disclosure, which is providing a globally harmonized method for companies to report on water usage, water risks and water management.
We chose to become part of the project because we believe it can help companies move toward greater understanding of water as a strategic business issue, as well as offer encouragement to implement effective water management and conservation.
Ford is collaborating with Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta to develop innovative processes that will better enable us to maintain our commitment to water reductions, particularly as we expand into water-scarce regions in India, China, South Africa and Mexico.
Georgia Tech’s Sustainable Design and Manufacturing program is collaborating with us to develop our water footprint, researching the environmental issues surrounding the lifecycle of our vehicles, including the use of water in the manufacturing process. The university has worked with Ford on a number of multidisciplinary issues related to sustainable development.
Georgia Tech is also helping us conduct research on the water-intensity of biofuels and battery materials, such as lithium. Lastly, researchers there are helping us identify the best manufacturing technologies to improve our stationary water use.
Elements of our Water Strategy
Our water strategy actions aim to meet a number of objectives. These include:
- Minimizing global water consumption at Ford facilities while maximizing reuse
- Finding ways to use alternative, lower-quality water sources
- Prioritizing our investments based on local water scarcity and cost concerns
- Meeting either local quality standards or Ford global standards for wastewater discharge – whichever is more stringent
- Ensuring a stable water supply for our manufacturing facilities while working with local communities to minimize our impact
As we further embed our water strategy into our global operations, Ford will be exploring new ways we can measure, monitor and reduce our water use. We will be looking at new investments in technologies and targeted reuse opportunities. We will pursue unified industry solutions for water reductions within the supply chain to improve lifecycle water use. Our initial focus will be on water-intensive industry segments, including aluminium and steel.
We also will be signing the United Nations’ CEO Water Mandate.
In addition, we will be working to safeguard the quality of the water we use in order to protect the health of our workforce and local communities. Our Ford Volunteer Corps, meanwhile, is placing a priority on water-based community projects during our Global Week of Caring and Accelerated Action Days. In 2010, for example, Ford Shanghai office employees collected more than $10,000 to fund the installation of 52 freshwater tanks in western China communities. (See the Communities section for more on these programs).
Improving Water Access and Hygiene in Chennai, India
Beginning in mid-2011, Ford will be working with WaterAid America on a program to improve water access, sanitation facilities and hygiene education in three schools in Chennai, India.
The program, WaterAid in India (WAI), will partner with the Integrated Women’s Development Institute, which has a proven track record of improving sanitation and hygiene issues in schools.
Each year, more than 385,000 Indian children die as a result of diarrhea and other diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. And although the country has one of the largest education systems in the world, the sanitary conditions in many schools are appalling. Only 44 percent have water supply, 19 percent have urinals, 8 percent have toilets and 19 percent of those with toilets have separate facilities for boys and girls.
WAI, which is receiving financial aid from Ford, will identify schools in the Chennai area that lack access to safe water and sanitation, and will build new sanitation facilities and help improve water quality.
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