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Water scarcity and water quality degradation rank among the biggest threats facing our planet. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Risks report,1 water crises – from floods to droughts to pollution – placed third among the most worrisome threats to businesses and governments, behind fiscal crises (first) and structurally high unemployment/underemployment (second).

At Ford, we have focused on reducing our water impacts since 2000 when we first began setting year-over-year reduction targets as part of our Global Water Management Initiative. Our efforts around water have evolved over the years; we have moved beyond merely reducing the water footprint of our own facilities to working more holistically outside our corporate walls, addressing water concerns in our supply chain and our broader communities.

In 2014 we published our corporate water strategy, which builds upon our 2011 water strategy for our manufacturing operations. The corporate water strategy is designed to effect substantial, sustainable and measureable impacts within our own facilities, across our supply chain and in our regions of operation.

We believe that business has a key role to play in finding sustainable solutions to current and future global water challenges. As an industry leader with more than 180,000 employees worldwide and manufacturing facilities or distribution channels across six continents, our reach enables large-scale positive impact.

CEO Water Mandate logo

Our water strategy aligns with the core elements of the CEO Water Mandate, a private-public initiative launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2007. Companies that support the CEO Water Mandate commit to implementing the framework’s six core elements for water management and pledge to publicly report their progress annually. Ford endorsed the Water Mandate in 2014.

The Water Mandate’s key elements are as follows:

Transparency underpins all of the other five areas. Across these five Water Mandate elements, we will develop communications and reporting channels that promote accountability. We will be transparent with key stakeholders, customers and the public by:

  • publishing and sharing our company water strategy (including targets and results) in relevant corporate reports;
  • publishing and sharing our global water usage for direct operations on both an absolute and per-vehicle produced basis; and
  • being transparent in discussions with governments and other public authorities on water issues.

Together, these six elements will guide us toward a position of industry leadership.

Going Further – Ford’s Blue Plan of Action

Direct Operations + Supply Chain + Collective Action + Public Policy + Community Engagement = Industry Leadership

We see water as far more than an environmental concern. Since 2012, Ford has recognized a basic human right to clean, affordable drinking water and adequate and accessible sanitation and, through this water strategy, seeks to uphold and respect that right. Our water strategy complements our overall human rights policy (Policy Letter 24: Code of Human Rights, Basic Working Conditions and Corporate Responsibility).

Our analysis of Ford operations shows that some of our facilities are located in regions where water supplies are already scarce. Global climate change also has the potential to further impact the quality and availability of water. We cannot be certain that we will always have access to water of the quantity and quality that our operations require. Our water strategy puts primary emphasis on our plants located in areas of water scarcity.

Ford is committed to conserving water and using it responsibly. We will address water challenges internally within our own operations and externally in communities where we operate and throughout our supply chain. We have committed to measureable actions to support our global water strategy, as described in each of the sections that follow below.

While we have demonstrated progress and positive global impacts through our efforts, we must also work collaboratively with other organizations on the world’s water challenges. We are committed to continuous improvement through research and partnerships with other companies and organizations to develop improved best practices in responsible water stewardship.

Ford’s environmental progress is evaluated at the highest levels of our company. The Board of Directors reviews our water-related progress annually. A cross-functional team from across Ford divisions – including our Environmental Quality Office and our Manufacturing, Purchasing, Research, and Community Relations functions – reviews water issues in a holistic way. In recent years, Ford has been meeting with a variety of groups – such as the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the UN Global Compact, the U.S. State Department, Ceres and the Global Water Challenge – to gain a better appreciation of outside stakeholder perspectives.

  1. Source: World Economic Forum. From a list of 31 risks, survey respondents were asked to identify the five they were most concerned about. Download the World Economic Forum survey

Reducing Water Use

We achieved our water reduction goal two years ahead of schedule.