World Water Week – What’s your Water Footprint?

World Water Week – What’s your Water Footprint?

World Water Week is an annual event run by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) that is dedicated to transforming global water challenges. It’s taking place this year from 27th-30th August.

Speakers and attendees come together from all over the world for a programme of seminars, sessions, exhibitions and press conferences. Seminars this year will cover a broad range of water-related topics from ‘Working towards being water positive’ as presented by IKEA to ‘Driving water transformation through the power of diversity and inclusion’ by Xylem to ‘Is asparagus to blame? A value chain review’ by Alliance for Water Stewardship (just a couple of our favourites). With a strapline of ‘It is more than a moment. It is a movement…’ the event organisers believe that water is key to future prosperity and that together we can achieve a water wise world. 

For those people (like us) who can’t make it to Stockholm, we thought we’d take a closer look at one of the key themes that is up for discussion – water usage in food production.

There’s lots of advice out there on how to reduce your water usage at home and in your business – see save water, save money in your business as an example. But there is less focus on the water usage that occurs every day just through our food choices.

31 World Water Week 2019 sessions are dedicated to agriculture, which is accountable for 70% of freshwater withdrawals. This focus comes as food habits across the world are becoming more water intensive, with large parts of the world eating more meat and cheese that need lots of water for their production.

What’s your Water Footprint?

SIWI feel that the first step in changing these trends is to raise awareness through the concept of water footprints. A water footprint measures the amount of water used to produce each of the goods or services we use as a consumer or that we provide as businesses.

Most people think about how much water they use from the tap. This is roughly 140 litres a day after drinking, washing, taking a shower, etc. You might be surprised to learn though that a single person’s water footprint could be as much as 5000 litres a day. This usage looks at invisible water – the water that is used to produce our food and everyday items such as clothing.

Alan Shapiro explains this in a bit more detail in his Ted Talk below:

You can calculate your water footprint – both personal and business – on the Water Footprint Network here.

Water in the supply chain

Invisible water used in the supply chain makes up the majority of our individual water footprints. In a comparison from the Water Footprint Network, beef uses 15415 litres of water to produce, eggs use 3265 whereas vegetables only use 322!

Water usage also accounts for the water that is discharged and often pollutes freshwater supplies, which is often the case in the making of clothes.

So how is asparagus to blame when vegetables are less water intensive to produce? The World Water Week talk will look at the water consumption the increasing agriculture in Peru is using to allow them to export the vegetable to the European market. On average, vegetables use a lot less water to produce than meat, though not all of them – for example a single almond takes the equivalent of two toilet flushes to grow according to Alan Shapiro. They are also most commonly grown in California which often suffers from drought! The journey that food has to make before it ends up on our plate can also have a negative impact on the environment, and a drain on water.

Where to start when reducing your business water footprint

The food and drink federation is keen to promote water efficiency in its industry, highlighting: ‘All of us, whether at home or in the workplace, share a responsibility to use water efficiently and with due regard to the needs of others with whom we share this planet.’ in its ‘Every Last Drop – Why water matters’ campaign.

This forms part of its initiative Ambition 2025 and aims to promote careful management of water usage to ensure the long-term sustainability of the food and drink manufacturing sector.

Its key advice, which can be applied to any industry, is:

  • Reduce the impact of water use along the supply chain – consider the water usage outside of your own business. How can you work with both suppliers and customers to encourage continuous improvement in their use of water?
  • Manage water in your operations – introduce steps to reduce water in your business. Why not try putting up our water efficiency poster in your business as a starting point?
  • Make water a boardroom priority – even if your ‘boardroom’ is just you! Consider how dependent your business and supply chain are on water and make plans to improve your business resilience.
  • What every individual can do to save water – saving water at home is just as important as saving water in the workplace. Remember the motto: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle at all times.

Download the full guide here to see how you can apply their tips and advice to your business.

Other ways to reduce your water footprint

  • Cut down your meat consumption – by making small changes to your eating habits you could save huge amounts of water. Alan Shapiro discovered that if he cut his meat eating habits down from once a day to once every two days he could cut his water footprint almost in half. Why not try Meat Free Monday to start with?
  • Consider eating more locally sourced foods – take a closer look at the labels on your food next time you do a shop, or why not try a local fruit and veg market instead? The smaller the journey the food has had to make, the better. (And it’s likely they’ll use a lot less plastic packaging too which is always a good thing!)
  • Become a Water Steward – the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) see businesses as key in supporting the sustainability of water and have developed a ‘water stewardship’ programme to help. Large corporations such as Coca-Cola have signed up, but there’s no reason why you can’t implement the good practice and lead the way for small businesses. Find out more about the framework here.

The consequences

According to WWF ‘practically all businesses depend on water – and they can no longer take this crucial resource for granted.’ By continuing to use water at the rate that we are today combined with climate change, the future of all businesses could be at risk. According to the Water Footprint Network:

“Until now, water has been treated as a free raw material. Today, companies are starting to realise that mismanagement of water can damage their brand, their credibility, their credit rating and their insurance costs.

Unless you know how much water you are using – and how much is available in the river basins in which you and your suppliers operate – it is impossible to know whether you are using it sustainably or whether your business could face water-related business risk.”

Not to mention the effect that running out of water could have on our everyday lives…http://

The risks of Under-Insurance

The risks of Under-insurance

Having the right insurance cover for your business is key (and something Unicom can you help you with thanks to our sister company The Insurance Octopus1). Something that many business owners do not realise is that it’s not just about having the right cover; having the right amount of cover is also vital. Failing to do so is called under-insurance and it is happening all too often.  

What is under-insurance? 

Under-insurance essentially means your policy does not have the correct amount of cover that’s needed. This can occur with both Home and Business Insurance.   

There are 3 common areas of under-insurance when it comes to businesses: 

Building and contents – As a business owner, your building is likely to be one of your most valuable assetsalong with your stock and contents. It can be difficult to estimate what it costs to rebuild a property, and many make the mistake of using the market value figure rather than the cost of a complete rebuild or replacement of your building, stock and contents.  

Business interruption – How long could you survive if your business was unable to operate? A scary thought, but the right cover can ensure you’re protected against loss of your gross income. An independent insurance broker like The Insurance Octopus can help you ensure you’re calculating the correct amount of gross income as insurers can have different definitions for this 

Liability  If something was to go wrong, there’s a chance you could have multiple claimants. The correct amount of Employers’, Public & Products Liability insurance will prepare you for this eventuality.  

Consequences of under-insurance  

Having insufficient insurance cover means that any claim will be insufficiently covered, so you may need to cover the damages yourself.  

One of the specialist panel of insurers for The Insurance Octopus, Aviva, has an interesting case study which helps put this into perspective: 

A hairdresser was carrying more stock than they had told their insurer they had. The figure they had provided was used to calculate the insurance cover. So when the business suffered a theft of more than £1,900 worth of stock, the owner found that the claim was covered but was based on an ‘average clause’ – i.e. it was paid based on the percentage of cover that was taken out rather than what the cover should have been. This left the owner underinsured by £900 and needing to find that money elsewhere.2 

Take a look at some more examples of under-insurance here. 

As per the Insurance Act 2015, if your insurer considers the misrepresentation a deliberate and reckless breach they could declare the policy void altogether – leaving you with nothing.  

Are you at risk of under-insurance? 

Getting your numbers right when you buy your insurance policy is key in protecting yourself against under-insurance. (You might want to think about using a professional valuation services to help.) 

Even if you felt confident in your sums at the time of taking your policy out, your business could be at risk of under-insurance for numerous reasons. Aviva have put together 10 different situations2 that could mean you are under-insured: 

  1. You haven’t had your building professionally valued for insurance purposes in the last three years. 
  2. You have altered or extended the property. 
  3. Your insurance cover has been based on the market value of the building when it should be based on what it could cost to rebuild your property. 
  4. You haven’t factored in costs for gates, fences or car parking areas in your calculations. 
  5. Your property is a listed building – the time and cost of repairs/rebuilds are likely to be far greater than for an unlisted building, impacting your business interruption cover. 
  6. You haven’t factored in the costs of professional fees such as an architect or surveyor. 
  7. You haven’t factored in costs such as site clearance or access – particularly where your business might need, for example, a crane or heavy plant to help with remedial work as a result of a claim. This could also add time that needs to be taken into account for your business interruption cover. 
  8. You are carrying more stock now than when you took out your insurance policy.  
  9. You are now VAT registered.  
  10. You have some new plant or equipment that you haven’t told your broker/insurer about. This could impact both the machinery cover you have and the business interruption you need – depending on how long it would take to source a replacement, if necessary. 

How to avoid under-insurance 

If you meet one of the above criteria then it’s time to review your Business Insurance policy, and our sister company The Insurance Octopus is here to help. The Insurance Octopus is an independent insurance broker dedicated to sourcing you the best deals on the market for tailored business cover and perfectly placed to help you avoid under-insurance. 

It has also put together some helpful guides on how to calculate your buildingsbusiness interruption and stock and contents cover.  

For bespoke advice for your business, get in touch on 0161 933 6570 today so one of the experts can assess your current insurance needs.  



The legal stuff 

1The Insurance Octopus is a trading name of TBO Services Limited registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 06489013. Registered office: Longley House, Longley Lane, Manchester, M22 4SY. TBO Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority Reference 498555. Verastar Limited t/a Unicom, registered number 3667643 and registered office Longley House, Longley Lane, Manchester, M22 4SY. Unicom and The Insurance Octopus are both trading names of companies in the Verastar Limited group.