To increase knowledge and understanding of water challenges in Asia and to facilitate action to better manage and protect our water resources in a changing climate.
While philanthropy has traditionally focused on improving water access, sanitation and health (WASH), our strategy has been to work where we perceive gaps.
Projects we support thus focus on rampant industrial pollution and rising water stress caused by unsustainable development and exacerbated by climate change.
China’s ground water is unfit for human touch
Over 60 per cent of groundwater in China is unfit for human touch. Polluters are not obvious – for example, the textile apparel & footwear industry in China discharges twice as much water than China’s entire coal industry.
Why we care about Water
Beyond quenching our thirst, we need water to grow our food, to generate power, to mine and to manufacture goods from fashion to electronics. Development and population expansion mean rising demand for resources – our water resources have come under intense pressure. In Asia, this is aggravated by widespread pollution, poor resource management and climate change.
Managing limited water resources for development is not easy and trade-offs may have to be made – for instance, polluting industries may employ more people; adding too much coal-fired power may lead glaciers to melt faster but more hydropower on transboundary rivers could raise regional geopolitical tensions. Proper management and a comprehensive understanding of water risks are required, only then can realistic and holistic solutions be found. It not mitigated, water crises can threaten economic growth and social stability on a global scale.
We have moved to close local knowledge gaps as well as supported two key initiatives and in the water space, which although focused on China, have global reach:
• Closing knowledge gaps in Hong Kong. ADMCF together with WYNG Foundation and Civic Exchange have worked on collaborative research to build knowledge to ensure water security in Hong Kong. This includes continuing education of government regarding Hong Kong’s water challenges ahead.
• Funding name-and-shame campaigns to tackle pollution in China’s supply chain. ADMCF was one of the earliest funders of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), started by Ma Jun, to draw attention to global and local supply chain pollution violations in China. Since 2006, IPE has dedicated itself to collecting, collating and analysing government and corporate environmental information to build a database of environmental information.
• Curating a new initiative to tackle water scarcity and stress through finance. As industrial and agricultural sectors in China are the largest polluters plus account for over 80% of national water use, we wanted to foster an investment and corporate universe that understands and responds to the inherent environmental and business risks of China’s water crisis, working together to ensure sustainable use of water resources. ADMCF thus curated an initiative that was more targeted at the financial industry to close this knowledge gap – after various attempts China Water Risk (CWR) was launched in 2011.
For the last decade, CWR has been one of the top global ‘go-to’ online resources for water issues in China. Its innovative and deft handling of sensitive issues such as food, energy and water security in China through business and finance lens won it following from the finance and industry as well as policy makers and global water experts.
Its ability to convey complex inter-linked issues and groundbreaking reports delivered deep impact in the climate-water-energy nexus. CWR’s groundbreaking reports have no doubt paved the way for finance, businesses leaders and governments to not only understand but to take action to mitigate such risks – see some impacts here.
Now, with freshwater risks in China largely mainstreamed, CWR has moved beyond water risks China to map both fresh and saltwater threats in Asia; driving water into the climate conversation across the continent. CWR actively engages on such risks through annual roadshows and one-on-ones with institutional investors with assets under management (AUM) of over US$7trillion. ADMCF still funds CWR today.
External, third-party scrutiny of corporate water-risk management practices has blossomed over the past decade, raising the stakes. NGOs, including the WRI, the World Wildlife Fund, Ceres, and the CEO Water Mandate and China Water Risk, are pushing companies for better disclosure and more action.
John Engen, Water: Its Value & Risks
Global Finance, 9 December 2019
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