BHP, on World Environment Day, has announced new asset-level context-based water targets (CBWT) that aim to ensure local water resources are conserved and resilient.
Unlike efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which can be tracked globally by measuring tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent released into the atmosphere, there is no single agreed metric to measure water risk and performance, BHP says. Instead, there is growing acceptance that measures chosen for reporting on water should reflect the local context.
BHP’s new CBWTs have been set for many of its operated assets and will support its Water Stewardship Position Statement. They have been developed to reflect the United Nations Global Compact CEO Water Mandate guide on ‘setting site water targets informed by catchment context’, it says.
The targets aim to ensure local water resources are conserved and resilient so they can continue to support healthy ecosystems, maintain cultural and spiritual values and sustain economic activity.
Anne Dekker and Mischa Traynor, Joint Vice Presidents Environment, say with BHP operations spanning a wide range of settings including deserts, sub-tropical regions and marine habitats, the company was committed to setting context-based water targets for its operated assets.
“The context-based water targets are based on what we heard from a broad range of stakeholders and our own assessment of water-related risks and opportunities,” they said. “They include actions to address our operational water performance (like improving water efficiency), and actions which are intented for the collective benefit of stakeholders in the region, such as sharing environmental data across water and biodiversity between companies and governments.”
An example of this will be implemented at its Western Australia Iron Ore operations where at least 50% of surplus water is to be prioritised for beneficial use to improve the sustainability of regional groundwater resources, or to generate social value.
“Preferred practice for water targets, and for nature targets more broadly, is changing as the global community builds understanding on how to set meaningful and effective corporate targets and the practical steps needed to get there,” they said. “We are proud of our new water targets and the potential for positive impact on the ground.”
Context-based water targets support BHP’s 2030 Healthy environment goal as they are expected to contribute to the protection and or restoration of water-dependent ecosystems in the vicinity of our operated assets, the company says.
Earlier this year, BHP also released the first of its Water Resources Situational Analysis reports.