The State of Green Business 2009: Water Becomes the New Carbon


By Joel Makower
Published February 3, 2009 on

Water Becomes the New Carbon

It has become eco-chic in recent years to declare that "water will be the oil of the 21st century" – an essential and limited resource, unevenly distributed around the world, the growing shortage of which will lead to economic power for water-rich nations and poverty for the rest, possibly even resource wars between the haves and have-nots. Given that, how do water-dependent companies manage in a world where water quality and quantity become a constraint to doing business?

The question has remained largely theoretical, the basis of scenario and contingency planning for a handful of firms, with relatively few companies engaging in water strategy planning. But as the effects of climate change materialize with greater frequency, companies from California to Calcutta are taking a deeper dive into water efficiency, measuring and managing its use and finding ways to close the loop, even setting goals to become "water neutral." In that regard, water is less the "new oil" than the new carbon.

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