How to End Bullshit and Measure your Water Stewardship Commitments Right

Water stewardship is a buzzword that’s often thrown around in corporate boardrooms and environmental conferences, but what does it truly mean? And more importantly, how do we ensure that companies’ commitments to water sustainability are not just empty promises? Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of water stewardship, the necessity of standards, and how to measure real impact:

with 🎙️ Lauren Enright – Program Manager Water Services @ SCS Global Services

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🔗 SCS Global Services

🔗 CDP Water –

🔗 Lauren’s own company, Axiom Climate

🔗 Microsoft and Fido AI’s partnership

🔗 Global Water Intelligence and XPV’s white paper

🔗 Protect Our Winters

🔗 Come say Hi to Lauren on Linkedin!

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Full Video:

What is Water Stewardship?

Water stewardship, as Lauren will explain again in the full interview, is about managing water resources in a socially equitable, environmentally sustainable, and economically beneficial manner. It’s a holistic approach that considers all stakeholders, from local communities to large corporations. Enright, who has been involved in water stewardship for over a decade, highlights the evolution of this concept from basic water management to a more inclusive and strategic framework.

The need for standards

One of the key points of our discussion was the importance of having standards in water stewardship. Enright compares the current state of water stewardship to the early days of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) reporting. Without clear standards, companies can make vague claims about their water-saving efforts without any accountability.

For instance, a company might save half a liter of water by implementing a minor change, while another saves thousands of cubic meters through significant investments. Both can claim water savings, but without standardized metrics, it’s impossible to gauge the true impact. Enright stresses the need for objective, quantifiable standards similar to those used in ESG reporting.

The role of CSRD and ESRS

Lauren brings up the CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) and ESRS (European Sustainability Reporting Standards) as crucial frameworks that are shaping the future of water stewardship. These directives from the EU mandate companies to disclose their sustainability impacts, including water usage, which pushes them towards greater transparency and accountability.

Enright mentions that SCS Global Services is already seeing an increase in client requests for CSRD-related services. Companies, not just in the EU but also in the United States, are recognizing the need to audit and validate their sustainability efforts. This shift is crucial in moving from voluntary to mandatory standards in water stewardship.

Quantifying Water Stewardship

A significant part of our conversation revolved around the challenge of quantifying water stewardship. Enright explains that the current state of reporting often lumps together minor and major water-saving efforts, making it hard to distinguish between genuine impact and superficial claims. The goal is to create a streamlined, standardized approach that allows for precise measurement and reporting.

For example, Enright talks about “double materiality,” a concept from the EU that considers both financial and risk impacts. This approach ensures that water stewardship isn’t just about ticking boxes but about making meaningful changes that benefit both the environment and the company’s bottom line.

Addressing the Gaps

While discussing the gaps in current water stewardship practices, Lauren highlights the need for better integration of water, biodiversity, and nature into corporate strategies. She notes that many companies approach sustainability from a compliance perspective rather than a proactive one. By integrating these elements, companies can move beyond mere compliance to create real, positive impacts on local communities and ecosystems.

The Business Opportunity

One of the most compelling parts of our discussion was about the business opportunity in water stewardship. Lauren cites the Global Water Intelligence paper I’m linking above, that projects a massive increase in investments in water-related initiatives. By the end of the decade, investments could surge from less than $1 billion today to $800 billion. This investment boom is driven by the need for companies to disclose their water impact and take action based on that disclosure.

The importance of REAL Impact

Enright emphasizes that having big numbers on paper is one thing, but what truly matters is the concrete impact on the ground. Companies need to focus on how their water stewardship efforts translate into real benefits for local communities and ecosystems. SCS Global Services aims to provide the tools and standards necessary to measure and verify these impacts accurately.

The Role of Technology and Innovation

Technology plays a crucial role in water stewardship. Enright mentions the collaboration between Microsoft and FIDO AI, where they use AI to detect leaks in water utilities. Such initiatives not only help companies reduce their water footprint but also contribute to broader water conservation efforts. SCS Global Services supports these technological advancements by providing validation and certification, ensuring that companies’ claims are backed by solid data.

SCS 116 a new standard in Water Stewardship

A significant highlight of our conversation was the introduction of SCS 116, a new certification standard for water stewardship and resiliency developed by SCS Global Services. This standard has been in the works for several years and aims to fill the gaps in existing frameworks. It provides a comprehensive approach to water stewardship, from monitoring year-over-year performance to integrating innovative technologies.

Enright explains that SCS 116 is designed to be both rigorous and adaptable, with different tiers of certification to accommodate various levels of commitment and capability. The standard is set to launch soon, and Enright is optimistic about its potential to drive real change in how companies manage and report their water usage.

Moving Forward

As we wrapped up our conversation, Enright stressed the need for a collaborative approach to water stewardship. It’s not just about setting standards but about creating a culture of accountability and continuous improvement. By working together, companies, governments, and communities can ensure that water stewardship is not just a buzzword but a fundamental part of their operations.

My Full Conversation with Lauren Enright on Water Stewardship

These are computer-generated, so expect some typos 🙂

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Antoine Walter: Hi Lauren, welcome back to the show!

Lauren Enright: Antoine, thank you for having me.

Antoine Walter: Actually, you’re in with the topic. Where my understanding is limited and i hope that by the end of that conversation we will bring everybody to a level of knowledge of the topic which will enable them to start taking action i think it’s a field where action is well needed so it makes a lot of sense but let’s start with a very simple question for you – not for me.

Understanding Water Stewardship and its importance

Antoine Walter: What is water stewardship?

Lauren Enright: I got introduced to water stewardship about 10 years ago in its definition of it being a social and equitable resource for all enabling the obvious stakeholders. Those stakeholders have very much opened up in just the last few years in terms of the state actors and non state actors involved.

It’s basically a broadened reach from what water management was. way back in the day and it still is now as you know water running through pipes and folks needing to carry on and live with that water.

Antoine Walter: So if that’s the definition of water stewardship, why does it need to have standards?

The need for water stewardship standards

Lauren Enright: Water stewardship had become in the last 10 years really focused on its exploratory methods.

It was never sort of ingrained in hard best practices. So therefore it was really piloted, I would say, in a lot of ways, just like ESG was piloted in the early 2000s. And we sort of see the scrutiny of where obviously ESG has gone in both its pros and cons. And I believe water stewardship is right in that realm of it being malleable, it being scrutinized, it being uplifted, saying, you need to follow this new I would say idle, but it’s not an idle.

It’s actually a good thing for our whole community. So

Antoine Walter: if I try to put that in layman terms, that means we see regularly press releases of large companies who say we do this and this for water, hence we’re great and that’s fantastic and that’s the way to go and water stewardship and a standard is about let’s quantify as we’ve done for ESG, as we’ve done for optics and let’s put.

Like objective values and objective figures next to it. Do I get that one straight?

Lauren Enright: You’re spot on. And I think where a lot of the missing pieces and the gaps have been just in the last few years has been along the line of what we call, like, is it a voluntary standard? Is there some kind of mandatory standard?

And so looking at the CSRD and what’s gone on with ESRS, three with water and marine resources. What is

Antoine Walter: SRD? What is, can you just explicit the acronym and then I’ll leave you alone for the rest of the conversation.

Lauren Enright: For sure. Yeah. So CSRD, it’s the climate sustainability related disclosures for the EU and the ESRS one, two, three, four, five, six are all relating to either GHG, waste, waters number three.

The role of SCS in Water Stewardship

Lauren Enright: And as far as where my position is at SCS Global Services, we actually have the opportunity to get client requests for CSRD. So I’m already seeing an uptick in the folks, not just from the EU, but from the United States of saying, Lauren, we have all these multinational sites and subsidiaries. Like we’re actually needed to go in and either Audit on that side and go through the validation process so aka checking someone’s homework to your point on those larger targets and goals and or creating a mechanism for inventory and efficiencies where all the technologies and good opportunities come in for them to actually take that lead and show all the tremendous work that they’re doing

Antoine Walter: so that means that the status quo today is I might be saving half a liter of water because.

I’m not flashing my little bottle of water which is under my desk or I might be doing an action which is saving thousands of cubic meters of water both of them today would come to the category water savings what you’re saying is that wait let’s objectify all of that and let’s. Take the existing standards streamline them and make them fit for water

Lauren Enright: exactly and if i can expand on

Antoine Walter: your

Lauren Enright: point

Antoine Walter: please do

Lauren Enright: what we’re talking about is a number of different terms so i think in the EU we’re talking about like a double materiality so it’s a financial and a risk impact those and we discussed that at CSC when developing the standard we’re like should we put this new term out.

a double materiality. What it really means at the end of the day is reporting. It’s strictly reporting.

Challenges and Opportunities in Water Stewardship

Lauren Enright: What SES cares about is that measurement impact reporting, and then also going a bit beyond that and going, how can we actually integrate water, biodiversity, nature, these, all these pieces actually into the company in a larger vein than it just saying, Hey, you know, And Anton, like I need to go through ESRS to check the boxes.

Obviously I’m being very black and white and we, I would say like hope that impact it infiltrate into more of like the culture of the company, but essentially what those disclosures are and what have even, you know, GRI and I verify against the CDP water for a number of clients. And in those verifications, I’m very aware of What’s being asked and I actually just some cognizant of what they’re missing because when clients come to me for a CDP water disclosure, it’s very much of like, Lauren, let’s check the boxes, Lauren, what am I missing?

And I’m like, okay, I’ll have to put my consulting head on. And I think we’re corporates, we’re governments where it’s sort of the larger investment community. Cause I know you pointed me towards Transcribed the global water intelligence paper regarding just investments and sort of where’s like the larger push going to be.

It’s all geared really towards what’s actually going to go on on the ground in that local community. And I think that’s probably where I’m most focused. Proud of our standard in really being able to say, okay, cool. We’re high, you know, pie in the sky and SDG six. How can we help this local community?

That’s like a little bit about what excites me right now.

Antoine Walter: Before we expand, there’s a lot to unpack in what you just said. You mentioned CDP water, which gives me a very smooth transition. CDP in the name, there is carbon disclosure. And I know I discussed on that microphone with Tom Ferguson who wrote the first water report for CDP, but still, if you discuss with.

The people who are used to report was usually the finance department of companies, they would associate CDP with, Oh, I have to report my carbon and sustainability stuff because that’s what goes out into the press release. That’s at the heart of it, what it is. So where I would see you with that. New standard is to say ok cdp might have cdp water but when it comes to water we need to associate very strongly that to a new type of organism which might be SCS

Lauren Enright: we’ve gotten overwhelming interest in this standard we’ve gotten overwhelming amount of feedback in the standard.

A lot of it positive. A lot of the comments have been around scope and saying it’s actually out of scope. It’s actually out of scope. That’s for this next iteration of the standard. So we’re thinking of it as very much a series of standards. It’s a multi year effort. It’s been really directed from clients, outside stakeholders, auditors.

And in that vein, it’s very much directed to the site right now, because that’s what was asked. And it will then, our next version, and it, we’re already working on it, is it’s on product. So it actually being an embedded, you know, upstream and downstream, and looking at Where specific products are lying and how we can actually put a claim to that product, whether it’s 30 percent recycled water or 50 percent rainwater.

I was actually just speaking with clients a few weeks ago about those type of claims that they want to have. And then the next iteration is that integration with energy and carbon because it’s

Antoine Walter: The other element I wanted to dive into what you said before, you mentioned the GWI paper, which is this white paper, which GWI put together with XPV, which is available on their website.

I had a webinar with the authors of the paper. So if you’re interested in that, the replay link should be in the description of this episode. But the main topic for me in that white paper is that they are projecting that there’s a huge business opportunity and there’s a huge, Surge in investment in water topics, linked to the fact that large corporates will have to disclose their water impact and we’ll have to take action based on that disclosure.

And hence what they’re investing in water related topic goes from less than 1 billion today to 800 billion. By the end of the decade so it’s a super high increase what i’m taking from what you said before is that having big numbers on paper is one thing and is one thing which is around for a while now what matters at the end of the day is how that trickle downs into concrete.

Stuff happening on the ground in communities in sub basin and stuff like that and what you’re offering into that with a standard to measure impact is really like opening the back door and looking at what’s happening for real.

Lauren Enright: I truly believe in the uptake. I think we’ve all been waiting for it in the water tech community and you have the privilege of coming from that community.

So I have a lot of knowledge that I brought into the standard and not just in the standard, but how I speak with clients and being like, it’s not just about the standard. It’s actually creating an opportunity within this framework. To expand and be a leader in this type of water efficiency and make case studies in this specific way.

So I see the uptick really exciting. I think also the piece that is a little bit missing is how does that uptick happen when it’s been purely among the corporate community and Thank you. Typically, people don’t budge until they see that regulatory mix and that push from government and even the SEC climate related disclosures that came out here in the United States.

It is a long climate related risk that they’re going to have to disclose. And obviously, when we hear climate related risk, we can easily say water related risk and bringing up how Those water related risks already in the United States are pushing folks to go, Oh, my gosh, these are all the reasons that I need to actually mitigate and adapt to what a K climate is doing to our water cycle.

The fact that More standards companies are out there being able to push. I just read the ISSB is looking at researching their own disclosures around biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human capital. It’s that mix between here’s where we are at the top in order to, hey, Apple just disclosed that they’re coming out with these crazy, amazing goals.

Awesome like big thumbs up anton and then i’m like have scs have another auditing company actually help them towards those goals so they’re not floundering you know what i mean year two thousand twenty eight

Antoine Walter: let’s be super concrete here how would an scs. Help an apple and we say Apple is just an example out there.

How would you have them?

Lauren Enright: So from a consulting angle, if they’re needing help, that’s one hat from the auditing side, it’s a completely different hat I would assume inside of a consulting company. Bigger multinational that they have a CSO water team lead, you know, et cetera, et cetera. And so they would then bring that company up to speed in terms of records, documentation, legal compliance permits to operate.

But essentially what we’re trying to do and help them. Is looking at that year over year monitoring to say, Hey, like, how are you doing in your AK utility bills or estimations or intensity per square footage? If it’s a warehouse and they don’t necessarily have a product or employees within that specific warehouse, what are the most basic volumetric measurements?

that we can evaluate and go, this is the gap. Why was that gap happening? Was it due to an uptick in production? Was it due to a leak efficiency? I kid you not. Major companies I have done this to and they’re like, Oh my gosh, good catch. Good catch. It’s so exciting. I think for me to like find that. stuff, but it’s not like, uh, we, when they lose, it’s a very humble journey that I’m like, this is helpful for you guys to like action this point.

And that’s very minutiae into their own site or how they actually operate in their more systematic approach across like say 500 sites.

Antoine Walter: Let’s take a last concrete example. You and I met physically in New York. In the climate week, uh, year after I met physically during the climate week with Elisa Roberts, who is water lead at Microsoft.

Microsoft is having this program with Fido AI, where they detect leak or they finance the detection of leaks in water. Various utilities around the world through Fido AI and hence Microsoft can disclose in their water impacts that they’ve bettered the water situation because there’s so and so much less non renewable water in such a case, how would you support them?

Maybe audit them. Maybe give them a stamp what would be exactly the level of interaction you would have in such a project

Lauren Enright: I know the project going on in the southern nevada area and it’s super exciting and i’d love for it to evolve to see multiple projects going on which i think they’re hopefully in progress of doing i think microsoft as an example holds themselves.

So accountable internally that they’re leading the way in that essence from a technology standpoint. It’s like the good motion of where actually like water technology could evolve. It’s still at this pilot stage. So in terms of where SES would love to like not forcibly insert themselves, but it’s more of like, how can we assist?

Those metrics in actually what they are doing. I spoke in Spain and actually talked with Victoria at Fido on a panel. We did speak about the importance of validation, the importance of verification, and then the importance of certification. And I think those bigger terms are. Synonymous with at the end of the day, what are you guys actually doing and whether they have a claim or not, I don’t really care if they need to or not.

I think it’s more of just how to help actually Microsoft ed towards actually going. Hey. We did this amazing thing in water savings and water loss and helps the Colorado by this much. And I’m like, amazing. Can we check that? So then we can say that works there. Let’s do it in the Hudson river. Let’s do it across the world.

Let’s do it in South America. So we can actually see that validation. And I’m 37 and I look at like. I would not be here if i didn’t have my BA and also my masters degree and i sort of knew when i got my BA i need to have my masters to have that and it was a bit of the credibility and the recognition behind it and i think that that’s sort of where metrics need to evolve to and just sort of saying you know we’re doing this amazing job so i’m

Antoine Walter: i think your metaphor is.

Super interesting that means that’s the sector and all the players which are interacting with water which is mostly everyone have to graduate from that’s what is too cheap topic and that way if we all agree on what’s the mark and what’s the graduation level. Then we all have something we can compare to, like when there was this reform in Europe, probably 10 or 15 years ago, where they said, okay, what France decides is a master, it’s not the same that what Germany decides is a master, it’s not the same that what Italy said was a master, let’s all sit at the table, let’s create what they call ECTS, and from now on, if you get so and so much ECTS, then everybody gets a master, and that’s recognized from one country to another.

So what you’re doing is, More or less doing that for water stewardship, which leads me to a very simple question.

The SCS 116 Water Standard

Antoine Walter: What is SCS 116?

Lauren Enright: SCS 116 is the certification standard for water stewardship and resiliency. And it’s been in the works for, I would say, the last few years. I was not a part of SCS then. So I actually just jumped in.

SCS is known for their own standards. So in just terms of the breadth and depth of us, we’ve been Around since the early eighties stan road started the company on pesticide free agriculture and he evolved it into a company that we certify across i believe it’s like two hundred and eighty different standards across the world so we helped with fsc we helped bring about sustainable agriculture and diamonds and seafood so we’re very well known in the in the auditing and standards business.

We also have a standards arm that, in essence, we’ve been asked by big multinational corporations for them to build a standard internally with them. Separately, we’ve been asked internally, Hey, can you go ahead and create a standard because there’s a need and there’s a gap in the marketplace? That latter.

Answer is essentially where the SCS 116 started it gathered a group of individuals specific experts across the board in wash in finance in water quality in framework and development in. Biodiversity scientists, the development then was obviously a lot of back and forth. Any of the roadblocks got handled by my standards team.

They’re amazing. I had a whole technical team on sort of like my side and they would go more and this doesn’t make sense. Let’s correct it more and let’s move this around. So in terms of actually creating the tier one. Tier two is year over year monitoring and then we created these special things called trailblazers and the trailblazers were exactly what they had had in previous standards and that went over really well with clients the trailblazers were essentially to say, Hey, we’re going to have an in road.

To multinationals to every organization as they choose, and then sort of in like a carrot and stick method, like we’re going to put water quality up here. We’re going to put water circularity and different claims that they hear about or that they know about. And I think that’s sort of where my passion really came into it with putting in the innovative tech piece.

Cause I know there’s a huge opportunity and even I’ve gotten new number of different. Inquiries from tech companies and partners saying, Hey, how can we move forward? It really affects me at the end of the day, when we talk about all this amazing stuff and we attend these wonderful conferences and get to speak to each other.

And then we fly home and we’re again in our little. Community or bigger city, shall I say, and we want to see action on the ground and how are those actions made? It’s through municipalities. It’s through the local city governments and what could steer it are companies.

Antoine Walter: I’m curious about that one. So you have SCS 116, which defines basically three levels, Tier 1, Tier 2, and then the Trailblazers.

I understand the idea. Sounds super cool. Now I need to be the devil’s advocate here. Isn’t there a risk when you’re creating this kind of specially crafted third tier that all of a sudden you have the best technology company, which is between 12 and 27 people working inside out of Alborg, Denmark, and is active in desalination, but not in brackish water, and only if the salinity is between so and so much.

I’m taking, of course, a stupid example, but

Lauren Enright: I like it

Antoine Walter: specialization potentially a problem. Is there an over

Lauren Enright: specialization in there?

Antoine Walter: They are currently 3 or 4 were champion in boxing at the same time in every category in the world, which is cool. It’s boxing. No one cares. Wouldn’t it make more sense in water that we say, Oh, those are really outstanding, hence they are outstanding and not everybody gets to be crafted their own category so that everybody can be outstanding at the same time.

Lauren Enright: So in terms of where I think you’re going with this is these standards are created and specifically at the SES 1. 6. So I love the specificity. The specificity is definitely needed. I welcome that. I actually hope that that opens a door. The specificity isn’t a problem on our side if the actual client is able to say, We are wanting to achieve this with this specific technology and this is why if there is a business case for it then i think there can actually be a lot of those examples out there that’s exactly like.

the opportunity at play, because even with municipalities and wastewater treatment plants typically get left out of the conversation. They’re a huge actor. How can we involve them within these types of trailblazers or another iteration of our standards? So I think this specificity is actually welcomed at the end of the day, but it’s not our job as SCS to say, You need to hold yourself to this specific MCL.

A segue I think for me is, is it enforceable? It’s only enforceable that we would take away their claim. And. We might not publicize that, but we aren’t the US government at the end of the day coming and knocking on your door and saying, you know, you need to go to jail or you’ll be penalized. We’ve seen those responses in terms of groundwater extraction and so on, but that’s essentially this movement towards regulatory.

And I think we’re all in that vein.

Antoine Walter: So you’re kind of a Moody’s or a Finch of water, which would say you’re no longer an AAA. You’re an AA minus. Because when you did your last disclosure, which, which like this and that, and it happens that you’re a bit less good than you used to be. So now I can, as an instructed investor, decides to invest or divest from that company because it’s not following exactly the claims that I would want it to.

The Future of Water Stewardship and Standards

Antoine Walter: What I’d like to understand now is what is SCS 116 right now? It’s a PDF. Which I’ve read, which is super interesting. If you allow me to, I would link it into the show notes because I think it’s an interesting read for everybody to understand what we’re discussing here. But is it something which is like published and that’s the standard?

Is it something which is under development? Is it something which is subject to amendments? How much is the baby baked? The baby baked. Nobody bakes

Lauren Enright: babies. I love our metaphors. So the standard went out for public comment March 26th. Just ended that public comment period April 26th. I head up to San Francisco in a week to go through those public comments.

My standards team has already started reviewing them as they were coming in. We’ve gotten interest across the board from NGOs, from multinationals, Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa. South America, United States, Canada. I think we’re very excited to be able to implement these changes. So the launch of the standard would be likely in one month.

So I’ll be safe and say early June. And in terms of those stages, we’ve already had clients. Interested in it. So as far as like that process thing goes, we already have auditors lined up that have been trained in the standard and in just in the amendments and any changes that will go on in updating them on those standards.

But we have a very sort of Sleek system here at SDS in terms of our auditor hub and then actually being able to go, Hey, what client is needing this? Are we’re going to need to go out to fly to them, et cetera. In terms of a piloting stage, I would say typically in any brand new standard, the piloting stage is about six months.

Clients have also. Known about us for a while so it’s not something where I would say the piloting stage is going to last a long time. We will not have new versions off of this one. This is going to be sort of this 1. 0 version. Multiple people have asked why isn’t this included? Why isn’t this in it?

It’s out of scope in terms of. Us talking about embedded water, us talking about virtual water on product. Where’s enterprise wide? Where is this next iteration? And I think I love those questions because it’s sort of like, it just opens up the floor for More to happen, more talk in that vein. And I will just go on the air and say, we are such a neutral third party.

We are building upon what water is, what water I would say stewardship is, what water management is. There is no first in class or best in class. I think we have learned a lot from different organizations over the past 10 years, I certainly have in today’s age. There’s. Room and there was a need for more and I would argue that in the next 2 to 5 years companies are going to be veering towards how does nature lead how do we get back and actually look at what a healthy watershed is in its own biodiversity and abundance and terrestrial and it then connecting into seafood it’s this beautiful sort of like circularity but we’re so focused on water right now.

Water, water, metrics with water. And I’m like, we’re actually missing, you know, and I know folks are thinking about it. I think it’s just too, like, it’s overwhelming to be able to think about it all in like one go.

Antoine Walter: Which makes me think of that, all the projects, which. To be honest, I haven’t followed in the past month.

So I don’t know exactly if it evolved from the state I knew, which is the nature asset class, which was something which was traded on Wall Street, the Rockefeller foundation together with, and I’m going to butcher it because I can’t remember who’s the organist who was reading that. But basically what they were doing is that they were saying we take an ecosystem and we market it as a financial thing.

So if we better the ecosystem, then it’s financial value should go up. And so there’s an incentive to. Bring that money in a virtual circle inside the natural asset class. That’s the positive side of the story. The negative side of the story is that you can look at that and think, does everything on earth need to be financial, but at least that approach was having this end to end approach circularity, which you were mentioning, would that be.

contradictory to having an audit based on a standard, or would you say in order to support the claims of a natural asset class, they should actually be built on standards and be audited regularly. And that way you are creating a synergistic approach between those two different ways to go. I

Lauren Enright: agree on the latter.

Yeah. When I look at the natural asset classes, cause I talk with like my wealth manager or other wealth managers in investment firms, I think the biggest thing is how do we measure ecological performance and in those financial parameters and those impacts. And I think we were not exactly there yet. And I think it’s a very scary sometimes term to just say, Hey, let’s throw all this around like money.

It’s already happening. There’s so many different instances across the United States with land and water rights and asset classes with those water rights. And it being very much about. The impact investment so i’m seeing it from the investment side that they’re popping up and over say companies because companies don’t have sort of the financial breath to be able to say i’m gonna invest in that specific land to do this that they’ll actually like underwrite the investment it’s still sort of a pioneers game out there as to how we’re going to take this forward.

Antoine Walter: Talking of the pioneers, you mentioned that you will be piloting the standards in the coming months, that it might be not so much of a pilot because SCS is an established company, so you don’t need to make a name for yourself. Now, if I need to have that conversation next week with the CFO of my company, Jeff Piping Systems, Or even GF for that matter, because they would be probably the one reporting as the head company.

What should I put forward in the conversation as the benefits for publicly traded organization like ours doing 4 billion of turnover a year, or the reporting and disclosing to CDP and so far and so on, pretty well loved by ESG investors with BlackRock, Vanguard, everybody on the cap table, what would be the top three arguments or the killer arguments I should give him so that as soon as possible.

He will get a call with SCS and scheduled the time where your auditor come across to get us audited and certified according to SCS

Lauren Enright: 116. What you’re asking about is what is the value behind it?

Antoine Walter: Especially for the early adopters.

Lauren Enright: There was already a need two years ago or six months ago, and they’re needing to catch up if their investors are already like, we look good on ESG.

We have a, a double a rating, all great. And I think the, the premise behind why SES and the value behind it is the year over year monitoring is that actually connection to climate change, to your adaptation and specific sites on the ground, not to mention that impact that you’re going to have, say on your own sort of supplier, if that supplier is going to have a ripple effect, is there going to be.

Facing Criticism and adapting Standards

Lauren Enright: Lawsuits and litigation cases against these claims so you guys are holding yourselves to this amazing standard or you guys have your own set of indicators within your organization could you not people are going to find ways to say you’re doing this wrong. And you’ll have to look at yourselves and go, actually, we are, how do we need to change what we are doing?

And it’s not a negative thing. It’s actually just going, we’re in our production, we’re in systematically how we actually view sustainability as a whole, circularity as a whole, water’s in there. So is waste. So is GHG and scope 133 that we look at on a weekly basis here at SCS. All of those figures really make sense in terms of actually looking at its value.

So the standards. Like core is going, well, it’s its own way to like mitigate and create opportunities and also see that impact on the ground. We have clients wanting to do it for the value add of its own stakeholders. So like just the investors. Just the clients just the consumers.

The Role of Water Stewardship

Lauren Enright: We have also the other side of it for how can we actually make an impact to that community.

We are having a water quality issue within our own organization. I would say reject a discharge to basins. And how are we actually going to be a leader in this versus play? would say on the defense and act like we’re doing everything. And I think that that’s what frankly, a lot of these multinationals are doing right now is playing on the defense, acting like, well, we’re look at we’re doing everything and then, you know, follow us.

And I’m like, that’s great. But like, how are we paving the way for other ways? So we’re not in this aggressive or defensive mode and saying, look at me, I’m doing everything.

Antoine Walter: I still have to fight my French brain. Which makes me want to find villains in a story because it’s storytelling needs a great villain and I’m wondering in the development of the standard at some point to have people just becoming like these villains which.

Find negatives and it’s who if those people exist who are they what motivates them and if they don’t exist does that mean like. What are the person the people are super supportive to you and diverse

Lauren Enright: usually take a neutral place but i think just in the last. Year even just since opening up the standard it’s become more of a political view towards stewardship is so i would say on the board the alliance for water stewardship.

I love what they’re doing. I got trained up in their standard back in 2016. They’re a leader in what water stewardship is.

Feedback and Gaps in Standards

Lauren Enright: I think what’s also happened, and this is, again, taking a very neutral point of view, we have received feedback from auditors, from clients, and that went, you know, again, this was before my time at SCS, so I, you know, I saw gaps in, you Not just their standard, so it wasn’t just pointing to them.

I saw gaps all across the board, and that was an impetus for SCS and an impetus for me and the standards team. And in terms of leading this, I would say another big point that folks are sort of questioning is from the WWF and I love what the WWF is doing. We have a great relationship with them. When we refer to their material a lot, they have a very conservative view in many ways.

Towards technology, towards water positive claims, towards water neutral claims and everyone under the sun is going to have their own take on it. We’ve had talks with the water positive framework community. I’ve read through their framework in terms of actually creating same. Abundance for water versus just a water positives claim.

So does it come down to semantics? Maybe? Does it come down to the volumetric accounting? Most definitely. And I don’t think that would be scrutinized with us or with them. So there’s, I think, agreement there. It’s just in the political stage of who does what. And we’re a big global community out there.

There’s room for everyone. And I think what’s happened was this larger NGOs and member based organizations started creating narrow on roads. And we’re like, Hey, where’s the room for everyone to come in? And what are these different connection pieces that haven’t been solved yet that possibly could have been solved in the near future.

And then just recently, the British Standards Institute. And their premise around, you know, BSI, because my standards team and I talked with their team a few weeks ago, is they have an idea to create an ISO water stewardship standard. It’s great. And I love that idea. Again, we take a very neutral stance to it.

It’s like, it’s not bad. It’s not good. It’s more like it is what it is. And I think Victoria Norman, who Is the lead on my standards team painted it really, really well. Is that with an ISO standard. that they’re wanting to pitch for water stewardship. The more broad you go with ISO, because I’ve audited against ISOs, I think we all know ISO 9001 or the 14000s, they become so broad that then they lose effect on the ground.

So we can pitch towards droughts, airtification, flood. But it’s going to become very hard to actually go very, very community based. And I think they are wanting to go enterprise wide in the hopes that those business decisions will then be able to trickle down into the larger ethos and PNL of the business.

So more power to them in being able to create that synergy. But again, like, Victoria pointed out to the team with BSI is that a committee is needed, and by nature, ISOs at least take two to three years to complete. So I would say those are a couple of the momentums around sort of what’s going on. And I’d love to say like, there’s a lot more going on in the world than just those specific entities.

And I think you and I both know that there’s more important sometimes things to think about that we need to get going on the ground that has a lot more traction. And we, as much as this competition is needed or friendly banter, I’m all about trying to push this dial forward. And if that seems aggressive in any way, it’s very much trying to help everyone and I’m vulnerable to with my own, you know, say like, Oh, we missed that.

Or, you know, let’s bring that in. I think that’s where I’m at. I really lost my ego in this whole process because it’s just where I’m at.

The Global Water Index debate

Antoine Walter: I have a closing question for you, which is, I mean, I have more questions, but closing that arc with you. You were at WEX some weeks ago. There’s a great interview of you on the YouTube channel, which.

I’ll link in the show notes as well. I was at the global water summits just two weeks ago, so we didn’t meet, but we were at different conferences. You were mentioning conferences. The reason why I’m bringing up the conferences is because there is a recurring theme over the past three years at the end of the global water summits in the closing plenary, the same guy.

asks for the same microphone, gets the microphone, raises the same question, and his question is, when will we have a global water index? Like, there is a global carbon index, he wants a global water index, to which Christopher Gasson always answers, we don’t need a global water index, but maybe we need a number for water, let’s continue our quest to find the number for water.

And now I’m wondering, is a standard like SCS116? potentially that number for water or is it absolutely not and we need something else or is it absolutely not and by the way we don’t need a number for water what we need is that down to earth how does it trickle down to local communities Concrete terms or to local businesses in concrete terms.

What’s your point on that

Lauren Enright: global water index is fantastic. It’s a determination and indicator of where a site or a facility or a region or a community. Is so we can point that to the wonderful tools that are out there with the WWF and aqueduct annual and all of these tools that say, okay. What are the seasonal variability and how does climate change actually affect what is going on on the ground?

Suffice to say, those indexes and even the technologies will never be able to encompass what is actually going on. On the ground in a behavioral way. And I think that’s really what matters most. We have an upcoming series of webinars starting in late May. And I think it’s the last one that I saved like the best for last in it talking about behavioral.

Changes and metrics and it really affecting not just the youth but the gen Z coming into these organizations and wanting a different way of actually characterizing. Sustainability, water, waste, those different generations will actually sort of have an impact on the SMP 500. Will have an impact on, are targets going to be just in the Northeast?

Yes, but how so? Is it going to be in what type of growth are we going to take in the next 50, 100 years? What type of products are we going to be using? Are we going to toss out plastic altogether and why? So in terms of a Global water index. Like, again, I’m all for it. I think of just like, what’s the difference that’s going to make in a hundred years when, you know, a specific city in Nebraska or in Germany or in Mongolia is struggling in terms of its water pollution that I’m like, Oh, you guys, I’m just giving you, you know, a three on your water pollution index.

And I’m like, see you next year. That doesn’t sit completely well. And we. don’t really know yet how to merge what NGOs are doing on the ground, how technologies can have an amazing effect on the ground with these larger lofty goals of creating a big, new, Initiative and we’re leading the charge. No, it’s everyone’s leading the charge people every it’s like an all hands on deck.

I just talked with a therapist a few days ago about this of like egos out there. And it’s actually what we’re doing to nature. It’s all about how we’re affecting ourselves. I think we know it. We don’t know how to change it. And that becomes more, you know, metaphysical and in our own metaphor of what we’ve been talking about, but I just think it’s a really interesting insight that we have so much brain power to put out new initiatives and beat our chest as if we’re saying, still back in thousands of years ago.

And I’m like, we just need to sit down and like, just say, you know, Anton’s right in this case. Cool. Like let’s proceed with what Anton’s doing for five years. Okay. You know, so and sos. And that’s where I think we’re still muddying the water. So I’ll stop there.

Antoine Walter: Fully agree with you. So, but I like the idea of being right.

Lauren Enright: Of course.

Antoine Walter: I think that was a super thorough exploration of. what that standard brings and also of SCS slash corporate Lauren.

Axiom Climate Updates

Antoine Walter: I’m interested in the other Lauren as well, because when I met you, you were working on Axiom Climate and I’m just curious, what are your latest updates on that end?

Lauren Enright: Awesome. So Axiom is still in the works.

I’ve had to put Axiom a lot on the back burner since I got hired by SCS. So it’s mainly work on the weekends, which is completely fine, but I have a small team that still carries on and does stuff. So where we’ve been at in the last year has been doing research and development. So R& D in Northern Italy to create ice.

In terms of physical ice for ice climbing, Axiom is very much geared towards opening what we’re all talking about, but to a big community, aka the civil society of our public. And I think We all change and we all, you know, and that got into the behavioral change in where Axiom really finds its momentum.

So just recently we did an initiative with a museum based here in Santa Barbara, a children’s museum. We made sort of like a sandbox, but an ice box. We mocked it up to where we had heat lamps. We got ice. We built it in a way to where it looked actually like a mini iceberg. And then we had kids throughout the summer.

It was like six hours of the day, basically measuring sea level rise temperature axiom is on its way to sort of open more doors to the community. And that’s essentially what we’re about. There’s no real conflict of interest. It’s more about the educational side, the scientific side, the art side, and that recreational side with snow sports.

looking at river basins, who recreates around river basins and being able to come into community with those folks and say, how can we make a difference? The

Antoine Walter: reason why I wanted to have that update with you is that it made me think, you know, Xylem is sponsoring Manchester city, and that means whenever there is Champions league evening you six i am written in big on the side of the stadium which is one the other thing is that they made the series of videos with a party with kuna grow at this i think it’s a word without water i think the video is is called the end of football because basically there’s no water anymore so you i mean it all trickles down to the ground.

And I know it’s very, very remotely connected to water, but it drew one billion people to watch that. One billion.

Lauren Enright: How many people are on the planet?

Antoine Walter: Yeah. What I mean by that is that my podcast has three times more audience than that. It’s three billion people listening to that.

Lauren Enright: We already, I mean, yeah.

Antoine Walter: But one billion is still commendable.

And jokes aside, I’m wondering how you would connect That’s kind of yeah remote water stewardship that exam is doing in that sense there’s a branding elements i’m not going to greenwash everything they do just by saying that they but there’s also another limit which is they bring the topic to of water to more eyeballs which remotely to me.

Connect to what you’re doing with axiom i’m thinking how would you report on that. How would you quantify an impact on that, or does it make no sense and we should just do it because it’s the right thing to do when reporting is an entirely different topic?

Lauren Enright: That’s a really good question.

Impact of Education Initiatives

Lauren Enright: I think the reporting framework would be, in my mind, humans impacted by What axiom has done, so we saw firsthand and human impact can be social, financial, behavioral, you name it.

It’s across the board. Well, being is another one. Are they more enlightened or happier or more inquisitive? I think we got to see that firsthand with the kids. The museum’s three floors. The kids went to different exhibits. So many of the parents came back to us and were like, Oh, my gosh, my son or daughter wanted to come back to your icebox.

And it was the most basic icebox. I mean, my business partner is a design and builder. So she did it really well. But in essence, it was just an icebox. And I’m like, it’s the most simple things that it is. Can actually have a curtail effect. Same thing with my nieces and how they talk about water now. And so when it comes into what shape shifting ways that we’re looking at, I look to what protect our winters is doing and protect our winters here in the United States.

Like they send athletes, rock climbers, artists, they send them to D. C. to basically speak on behalf of how the climate is affecting landscape, a mountain. Their own slopes, etc. And a lot of that speak, and I know some of those athletes because we’ve been in conversations about collaboration with Axiom. How are you guys talking about water?

Like, are you guys inputting water in that conversation? Not necessarily. And that’s where I think that education piece is so necessary because many of those conversations that they go to DC for are around regulating fossil fuels and greenhouse gases. which is exactly what they should be doing. And then being able to open up the bigger field to saying, actually, we’ve already sort of mucked up our planet, you know, with those greenhouse gases, like we’re actually already needing to adapt to little, too much, too polluted of water.

So I think that’s sort of the momentum we see. And I’m starting to hear from athletes. So I’m super excited. And we know like, even with Alex Honnold, who climbed El Cap, Alex, Went ice climbing and rock climbing and put out the Netflix and he has his own sort of community around the wow of his own physical ability and that in essence is exactly the kind of pull that we are wanting to say we want to inspire a generation that cares about people.

Our own water cycle that cares about the pollutants and the chemicals we’re putting down our own faucets so that’s where i think the bigger. Measurement is around this how does that come into the financial aspect in the investment the bigger question to ask and that’s sort of exactly why my business partner and i just recently discussed like.

Certain people would want to partner with us and we’re like, Nope, they are in our value system. But these people are in our value system. And I think that’s Probably what’s going to be hopefully leading our generation, the younger generation forward is like what actually is going to be able to steer this

Antoine Walter: on every occasion on that microphone in conferences and chats and everything.

There’s one thing that everybody agrees. Touching water is the missing piece is the educational piece. And then everybody puts a different definition, different stuff, which should be educated to and different message, which should be brought along. But there’s the one thing which everybody agrees, the messaging and education piece is the key and will take us to, to the next step.

So what solution is the right, I mean, I’m 200 episodes in, and I’m still trying to crack that nut. So we won’t find the lights just. By talking, but I think just what you said brings us one step closer and it’s all these little dots, which we’re putting together and one day, I’m sure it will draw a path.

And now that was my own tangent to that, Lauren, I had a blast talking with you today on that complex topic. But I think I said in the introduction, I think we’re one step closer to understanding it. So that’s thanks to you. So thanks a lot for that. I would be super happy to take a case study with you whenever you are down the line and.

Piloting happens and you have a first major company who just went through the process and is willing to disclose not only the result of the process, but also what they did on the path. I would be super curious about that. I think that would be also good way to probably show the way to others that new long rent over.

I would propose you to switch to the rapid for questions.

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Rapid fire questions:

Antoine Walter: What is the toughest challenge in your opinion for a water tech startup? Exposure

Lauren Enright: and getting off the ground.

Antoine Walter: What would be your best single piece of advice for the founders and managers of the about 1, 000 early stage water startups?

Lauren Enright: Never stop believing in the technology you see.

See and believing in your business model to invoke change,

Antoine Walter: what’s the drop of knowledge you wish more investors knew about the water sector?

Lauren Enright: They would wake up. I think that it’s gonna have a major impact in into their own community soon, if not today, tomorrow, check your own body in terms of microplastics that already is inside your body.

Wake up call for them.

Antoine Walter: What was your most unexpected partnership and what did it bring you?

Lauren Enright: Unexpected.

Antoine Walter: Unexpected partnership.

Lauren Enright: Partnership with a company. Up to you. You tell me. I would say unexpected partnership has been with a client that, Sort of evolved. I don’t think I can say the client, but it’s evolved to the point to where they have so much at stake and so willing to take risks that it’s seeing sort of light of the day in years from now.

So I would say that that’s the most interesting partnership. I’m

Antoine Walter: so tempted

Lauren Enright: to

Antoine Walter: do stupid jokes, but I won’t because I would, I would, I was trying to do like stuff, you know, like, Oh, so you’re working with 3M or you’re working with DuPont, you know, but it might be funny, you know, it’s not even really funny.

It’s super short. Profitability or growth

Lauren Enright: profitability,

Antoine Walter: what’s the next profile you’ll hire

Lauren Enright: next profile. I would hire a profile in sector,

Antoine Walter: the type of person, the type of position I’d

Lauren Enright: say a science based economical based and sci fi futuristic based water consultant. So someone that’s actually able to sort of see all different angles.

And I think that those are the most dynamic. Most innovative and progressive conversations I have ever had, which typically are on the science and authors, and they’re in the French. They’re not in the mainstream, hooking it up.

Antoine Walter: That sounds super cool. But does that profile exist?

Lauren Enright: It’s existed in one realm that I’ve talked to.

So a lot of multinationals. And corporations used to hire futurists, super forecasters to their company that were actually really invested in the sci fi community, which sounds odd, but they’d be able to say, okay, this is what’s going to happen to the world and your company and in your manufacturing or chemical and really drill it down to the business line.

Not everyone can hire someone like that. But these books exist, the national bestsellers exist that are either fiction or nonfiction, and they’re based on truth of situations going on. So we as humans need to imagine a lot more. You

Antoine Walter: know, I think it’s the CIA in France, the army is doing that and in other country.

that they regularly invite science fiction authors to think of a scenario and see where their mind would go because most of the time that’s a good way to prepare the future.

Lauren Enright: Percent. Thousand percent. Yeah.

Antoine Walter: What’s that tool nobody speaks about but you couldn’t live without?

Lauren Enright: I think the amount, the percentage of homelessness and the percentage of people left out of the equation right here that we’re talking around inequity.

That we just say this two billion and we actually don’t know where that two billion exists. I think it can be very close to home in ways that we don’t really know. We think it’s really far removed from us. And we think it’s not going to touch our doorstep and I think where our hearts and minds can be going isn’t in alternate directions towards helping out a neighbor and helping out something local in your own

Antoine Walter: community.

I’ll do a little plug here, but it’s a conversation which is not the sexiest of the ones I had on that microphone, but I think super instructive to that matter, which is the conversation I had with Kirsten Darnott and Sean Furry. About how you bring water in rural parts of the word and that conversation is very far from saying two billion people and stuff like that it’s a fully different game where it’s grassroots and i learned so much in that conversation so i’ll plug it because it’s resonates with what you said.

Lauren Enright: Yeah,

Antoine Walter: I’d love that. What are you desperately needing and want to raise an open call for right now?

Lauren Enright: I think it’s an open call for integration into nature. And I think the definition of that, we’d have to humble ourselves to actually understand what it is about nature that we can help. So I would say it’s a much more esoteric and ethereal call than it is a pragmatic, let’s create a new index type of call.

Cause I just did a very pragmatic call. thing and we built a new standards. I really feel this next impetus is around how can we rewild into nature? And what does that mean when we step out and let nature evolve, let biodiversity evolve, are we able to do that in a really coherent and clear way, or are we going to still want to get involved?

I imagine this is. The latter answer that we’re going to still want to get involved and show off exactly what we’re doing, which is the step of why I included nature based solutions and biodiversity into the standard was exactly the, you know, creating pathways. Like you said, we’re not, we’re not there yet.

And it’s too hard to evolve people too far ahead in the future, which they wouldn’t understand. So we need baby step.

Antoine Walter: Yeah. That’s an entire box, which we could open in a SQL conversation. All that part about biodiversity and nature based solutions. Not typically the kind of indicators which you would naturally tend to when you’re a business.

So I hadn’t known that it’s in the possible direction to lead the conversation, but we’re already 20 minutes overboard.

Closing Remarks and Future Plans

Antoine Walter: What can and should I do for you?

Lauren Enright: I mean, I think this is just a pleasure in itself to, to see you again, to be able to, to talk more openly about the standard. If there’s any. Folks are people that you feel that I would align with in, in different ways.

I’d love that. I think selfishly because we’re all remote working. So I see people here and there are on LinkedIn. And I think being able to give channels of communication and when what you’re doing with this podcast, Anton, like, I think it’s a great thing. It’s extremely important to have a clear communication around different people’s areas of interest, expertise, and dare I say, the politics around, you know, our ever evolving own motives, aggressiveness, and passion.

I think we’re all very passionate about our sector in climate and water, and I think we’re passionate for a reason, and I really admire that in you.

Antoine Walter: I’ll make a plug to someone else. I make a plug to Carl Genter from Circle of Blue, because when I was discussing with him, he gave me goosebumps just by the way he was telling stories.

And one of his stories was about how just on a flight, he happened to be seated next to a congressman. And just by the way he told some stories, he was able to change the way that person was looking at certain water topics and hence have an influence on policies. And that’s just the forum we have with passion and stories.

So yeah, double down on what you say. And I’m not the best at that one. They are really gurus out there. And I’ll link to Circle of Blue if anyone doesn’t know Circle of Blue yet. I think that’s the place. You mentioned communication. If people want to follow up with you after that, where should I redirect them the best?

Lauren Enright: Either the SCS website, you know, under, I think it’s underwater stewardship. I can give you my email address.

Antoine Walter: There’s your name on the page. On the

Lauren Enright: page. And yeah, I can, I can link it. But yes, it’s Lauren Enright. I think I’m really big about wanting to expand this conversation. If anyone’s interested in specifically Axiom, which I have gotten interest in along the way, and Just being at SES and knowing also about Axiom.

I’m happy to answer more of those questions. It’s definitely not a mystery of what’s going on. It’s just been more on the back burner.

Antoine Walter: Lauren, I stand by my point. It was super amazing to have this conversation with you. I started being a muggle. I’m still a muggle, but I think I learned one thing or two.

So if we have repeated conversation in the future, at some points, I might even understand half of what I should. So. That’s great. I love

Lauren Enright: your humble best.

Antoine Walter: It’s not my humble best. That topic is really a topic which is far from my, my core. I’m a stupid engineer at the beginning to start with, and I’m still that to a certain extent.

It was super cool to speak with you. Thanks a lot. And I repeat my, my invite when you are up to the next milestone in the standard and the rollouts, I’d be curious to have a case study type of thing where we look into how that rolled out in concrete terms. I’d love to. Thanks a lot.

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