It is able to be in all states – liquid, solid, gaseous -, covers 72% of the globe, is 65% of our human body, including 76% of our brain … And yet this water, which likes to call hydrologist Emma Haziz ” potential water man neglects, even abuses.
A vicious circle
According to a study by international researchers led by the Stockholm Resilience Center, published in late April in an American journal nature, the planetary boundary of green water has just been crossed. This is the second year since the announcement in January of exceeding the safety zone for chemical pollutants, and the sixth of nine borders that cannot be crossed if one hopes to preserve the planet’s ecosystem. ” Green water is that which is absorbed by plants. It is retained in the soil and provides good moisture. This allows plants to grow explains Emma Haziza, founder of Mayane, a research center dedicated to climate adaptation.
Until then, invisible to us green water was not taken into account in the analysis of the freshwater cycle, because it was difficult to assess, in contrast to blue water, which comes from precipitation and is contained in rivers, lakes and groundwater. Sensors located everywhere allow you to measure the height of this so-called visible water. ” Exceeding this limit means that we have destroyed our land and everything that holds water in the soil, especially living things and organic matter. As soon as we kill en masse using pesticides or fungicides, we prevent soil reoxygenation and water uptake », notify the scientist.
Then a vicious circle arises: under the influence of drought, vegetation suffers, and the soil becomes poorer, crusty and eroded. During rainy episodes, water, instead of penetrating, begins to drain, increasing the risk of flooding, and with it the phenomenon of landslides (the soil is no longer retained by the root environment). The effect is doubly devastating, because the water that could not be absorbed will enter the atmosphere and oceans in the form of torrential rains. “In the coming years there will be more losses and losses,” warns Emma Haziz.
Rethink the models
Recent cases of early heat, drought and floods, which are expected to increase, confirm the demonstration. In this historically hot and dry month of May 2022, the soil moisture index continued to fall throughout the month. In Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, as in other regions, the soil is currently dry on August 15.
Together with blue water, green water forms soft water. The latter accounts for 2.5% of the Earth’s water, or 35.2 million cubic meters, according to the Water Information Center (Cieau), and only 0.7% is available for drinking and human production. However, under the pressure of demographic mega-trends and disruption of the climate and water cycle, there is a need to radically rethink agricultural, energy and industrial models. And this on a large scale and in the short term, for three to five years. Do companies know about the situation? Did they take this topic directly into their eyes?
For Cedric Lecamp, manager of the Pictet Water Foundation, founded in 2000, the answer is yes. ” As an external speaker, as these companies do not belong to our investment universe, I note that some large French groups, such as Danone Where L’Orealdeveloped strategies for better control of water consumption, he points out. In general, companies have accelerated their efforts, especially over the past five years. »
Our partner Moody’s ESG Solutions (formerly Vigeo Eiris) confirms the good results of Danone and L’Oréal in water management and conservation. Among the largest registered French companies, they rank first and fourth, respectively, in the SRD for this indicator, which takes into account the reduction and optimization of water consumption, wastewater treatment and communication quality. Of the 137 SRD companies audited by Moody’s, only 44 were rated because the agency considers this topic relevant to them, ie relevant to these companies and their stakeholders.
Given this limited spectrum, SRD’s poor students are immediately apparent: automotive, chemical, pharmaceutical, mining and metallurgical.
Is the threat of water scarcity being taken into account on a larger scale? Not enough, according to a recent study published in May by the CDP (ex-Carbon Disclosure Project) and the Planet Tracker think tank. ” Companies are already losing billions of dollars in profits because they do not take water issues into account in their short-term, medium-term and long-term strategic decisions. ”, says Kate Lamb, global director of CDP. Research shows that a third of financial institutions ignore water issues in their investment or loan decisions. Their potential damage is estimated at $ 225 billion. Apart from giants, are more modest savers sensitive to the topic? More and more of them want to give meaning to their investments, and specialized funds are multiplying. Founded in 2000, Pictet Water, which focuses on water supply, infrastructure and environmental services, manages assets worth € 9.6 billion and attracts both private and institutional investors. “They have a real interest in this topic for strategic or industrial reasons, but they do not invest in any way for image reasons.” Says Cedric Lecamp.