Assessing water risks of commodities, new WWF and AstraZeneca case study

Posted on May, 15 2023

Many companies rely on commodities to manufacture the products and services they sell. They should assess their key commodities’ water risks.
Large global brands typically have large and complex supply chains, which often contribute towards a situation where the company has limited specific visibility of the raw materials within their manufacturing processes as well as the physical location where they are sourced.
Often the most significant reliance on water across the supply chain rests within the raw materials along with the associated impacts and dependencies on biodiversity and risks associated with climate change. These risks are amplified when the global supply of a specific commodity used to produce a strategically relevant raw material is limited to a specific region, as one major event within the area could severely limit global supply.
As such, building a deeper awareness of the water risks associated with strategic commodities is a critical component of a robust approach to water stewardship practices.
This case study illustrates how WWF worked with global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to help it understand the water-related risks, using the WWF Water Risk Filter, linked to some of its strategically important commodities – namely palladium and palm oil.

The key lessons from this review were:
  • It is critical to apply a multi-dimensional approach to identifying and prioritising strategic raw materials that need to be assessed.
  • Some degree of water risk assessments can still be completed for raw materials even if a company is still working to map the sources of commodities deep within its supply chain.
  • Insights from raw material water risk assessments can inform responses within water stewardship strategies.
  • Undertaking a raw material water risk assessment can help to facilitate internal conversations and build awareness across the business around the risks associated with raw materials and water.
WWF case study - Assessing water risks of commodities
Palm oil is a key commodity for many companies
© WWF-Malaysia / Mazidi Abd Ghani