Why we need a new approach to water


Water in continuous use

Hardly any company can avoid the use of water. It is used day after day in different states, qualities and intensities. It cools and purifies, rinses and cleanses, nourishes and moisturizes, transports and absorbs. It is extracted, drained, pumped, stored and reprocessed. However, the constant availability and arbitrary use of water, including the oceans, has been taken for granted for too long.
In the near future, companies will be required to disclose information about their water consumption and use of marine resources in a sustainability report in accordance with the requirements of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) as part of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).  



Water is not simply water

Let's take another closer look at the first aspect of Standard E3, “Water Resources”. Our “we-have-water-in-abundance” mentality has led to a careless, sometimes negligent use of water, which we now have to laboriously relearn. Although more than two thirds of the earth is covered by water, not all water is the same. Less than three percent is very unevenly distributed fresh water. Of this, only around 0.3 % is accessible as surface water in the form of rivers, lakes or swamps. This is increasingly burdened by economic activities – 70 % of human water use worldwide is for agriculture. 
In a recent study, research teams found that groundwater levels around the world are falling at an ever-increasing rate, with consequences for people and the economy. 



Marine resources – endangering the world's seventh largest economy

It is obvious that water is an essential component of any business activity. But what about companies that do not belong to such obvious sectors such as fishing, aquaculture or tourism? What do they have to do with the marine resources? One touch point is logistics: over 90 % of goods flows across the seas. The pharmaceutical industry benefits from the oceans as a source of biological resources for developing new drugs.
Moreover, deep-sea minerals are becoming increasingly sought after, most recently in the public eye due to the debate about manganese nodules, which can be used in a wide range of industries. Companies therefore benefit from the ecosystem services of the oceans in very diverse ways that are sometimes not immediately obvious.



Goals of the UN Ocean Decade

Although the oceans’ annual gross value added is conservatively estimated at 2.5 trillion US dollars – equivalent to the seventh largest economy in the world – we are increasingly jeopardising this immense potential. As part of the UN Decade of Marine Research for Sustainable Development (2021 - 2030), or UN Ocean Decade for short, a total of ten challenges and seven goals were defined in order to achieve a sustainable future in dealing with the ocean. We are the sole management consultancy in Germany that is a business partner of the UN Ocean Decade, with Dr. Alexis Katechakis serving as one of the four board members on the German Committee. The three goals – a clean ocean, a productive ocean and an inspiring ocean are the focus of our work.



Potential for nature and economy

From 2025, the first companies within the framework of the CSRD for the European Sustainability Reporting Standard E3 “Water and Marine Resources” will have to report retroactively for the 2024 financial year and annually thereafter, among other aspects, including their water consumption, impacts on water quality and availability, and management strategies for water and marine resources.  
The “Water and Marine Resources” standard addresses well-understood sustainability topics with enormous potential – for nature, but also for companies and their employees.  From car manufacturers to energy producers, from chemical companies to food retailers and world-famous sports clubs, we have already helped numerous companies in understanding their impact on water and marine resources and steering them towards towards transformational directions. We would also be happy to support your team in identifying the relevant reporting topics, and if necessary, to develop a holistic sustainability strategy.

How we support you


Keynote speech “Fascination with water”

We take you on a “deep dive” into the world of fresh and salt water and convey the connections between water, the economy and your company


Water and Marine Resources Bootcamp

In an intensive workshop, we bring all of your company's employees involved in the topic to the same level of knowledge


Workshop “1 HourForTheWater” (#1HFW)

In an interactive one-hour format, we raise awareness and activate your entire workforce about the topic of water and oceans in a playful and highly informative way


Fit for Legislation – Water and Marine Resources

Our experts will tell you how and what you need to report on the topic of water and marine resources in the future


Fit for Strategy – Water and Marine Resources

We would be happy to help you in building a strategy around the topic of water, or in adapting or sharpening an existing strategy.  

Contact us:

Teresa Jörg

Teresa Jörg


Phone: +49 151 15289555
E-mail: teresa.joerg@fors.earth


Maresa Bachman

Senior Consultant

Phone: +49 151 670 244 96
E-mail: maresa.bachmann@fors.earth

What companies should know about water and marine resources


Here you will find the most important questions and answers. We would be happy to answer any further questions in a personal conversation.

1. Water stock in Germany: What role does the climate crisis play?

Decreasing soil moisture, melting glaciers, sinking groundwater: Germany has lost water equivalent to Lake Constance in 20 years. This is shown by data from the Grace satellites from the Global Institute for Water Security in Canada (GIWS), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The annual loss amount to 2.5 gigatons or cubic kilometers of fresh water. The man-made climate crisis is increasing water scarcity:

Dry regions become even drier

Rising temperatures increase water demand in agriculture

Weather extremes make precipitation more unpredictable

Natural disasters damage water infrastructure

Floods contaminate water supplies

2. Which economic sectors contribute to water abstraction in Germany and to what extent?

Energy supply (more than 44 %)  

Mining and manufacturing (almost 27 %)

Public water supply (almost 27 %)

Agriculture (irrigation of agricultural land) (more than 2 %)

3. What does “water stress” mean?

The water use index indicates how much water is withdrawn (/ the level of water withdrawals) in Germany in relation to the "water supply" (renewable water resources). If more than 20 % of the available water is used by human, it is defined as water stress. Water stress leads to problems for the environment – moors and wetlands can dry out, groundwater near the coast becomes salinized, forests are damaged by drought – but also affects the economy (harvest failures, bottlenecks in energy production, increasing costs for water treatment, interruption of production processes ...) 

4. What does the National Water Strategy include?

In 2023, the German government adopted water-related measures in all relevant sectors (agriculture and nature conservation, administration and transport, urban development and industry) for the first time with the National Water Strategy. This marks the first instance where all stakeholders are on board: federal, state and local authorities, the water industry and all water-using economic sectors and groups. The strategy is divided into 10 strategic topics and includes, among other things:  

Development of a nationwide guideline for dealing with water acarcity

Water-sensitive urban development:  Creating so-called sponge cities with more greenery and fewer sealed areas to better store and distribute water

Obligation to create hazard and risk maps for heavy rain integrate them in development planning by municipalities and states

Construction of interconnected networks and long-distance pipelines to transport water from rainy regions of Germany to dry areas

Fairer distribution of wastewater treatment costs by requiring the companies discharging wastewater – e. g. Farmers – to bear greater financial responsibility and adapt their livestock to the available area. Significant overpopulation of livestock puts additional pressure on water resources in the regions.

The 10 strategic themes are accompanied by 78 actions from the Water Action Program.

5. Why do we treat the oceans so badly?

In our opinion, Nikolaus Gelpke, among others, said this most accurately. Initiator and editor of the World Ocean Review, patron of the Ocean Science and Research Foundation, president of the International Ocean Institute and patron of GAME at GEOMAR in Kiel, formulated in a podcast:

“When you walk through the forest, you see: a tree has been felled or the tree is sick or has bark beetle problems. In the case of the oceans, you actually only see this when there is really serious littering – on the coast, for example. Otherwise you can't tell how the oceans are doing. (...) The oceans always put on a good face when dealing with evil – and we are not used to that. Otherwise we see destroyed houses, polluted landscapes, dead trees. That's what we're aiming for and what we're trained for. And if we don’t see that, we automatically think: It’s fine.”

6. What is the economic value of the oceans?

Oceans have an enormous economic value: the annual gross value added is currently conservatively estimated at $2.5 trillion. It is expected to grow to $3 trillion by 2030. According to a study by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, investments in the sustainable transformation of companies in the Blue Economy can generate significant returns: The value of an investment will increase at least fivefold on average within 30 years – if you take into account the positive impact of the investment on the global ecosystems and social effects.

7. Why are intact oceans relevant for all of us?

The benefits that the oceans provide us can be divided into four ecosystem services: In addition to cultural (e. g. beautiful holiday destinations) and provisioning services (food from the oceans, transport routes) – they also provide us with the following two important services:

Regulating services: Oceans play a key role in the global climate system – they are the No. 1 climate regulator and the largest natural carbon sink. Mangrove forests make a significant contribution to value creation and risk mitigation in the insurance sector. The property damage caused by Hurricane Irma in Florida was reduced by $1.5 billion

Supporting services: Oxygen production (for every second breath we take, the oceans provides us with oxygen)


8. Water and marine resources: What do reporting companies have to report under the CSRD?

If the issue of water and marine resources is material to a company, it must, among other things, report on the following points:


What strategies the company pursues in relation to the protection of water and marine resources (ESRS E3-1)

What objectives are set in connection with the protection of water and marine resources (ESRS E43-3)

What the company's water consumption is like (ESRS E3-4)

What are the expected financial impacts of material risks and opportunities related to water and marine resources (ESRS E3-5)



Who trusts us when it comes to water and marine resources






Water and Marine Resources Insights

Selected project descriptions and blog articles for anyone who wants to know more.

Earth Day 2024: “Planet vs. Plastics”

60 percent reduction in the production of ALL plastics by 2040 required.

Headwater for water: what to do and what not to do?

Why we need to talk about water – 365 days a year.

So that the “bathtub of God” does not become a whirlpool

Effects of man-made climate change – right on our (office) doorstep.

Achilles tendon Arctic

Marine biologist Dr. Alexis Katechakis: How we can protect the Arctic – so that it can also protect us.

About the art of holding a candle to a metropolis

HAMBURG WASSER: Supplementing the sustainability program with further goals.

Achilles tendon Arctic

Dr. Alexis Katechakis on economic temptations in the Arctic that look like sustainable opportunities.

ART AND CLEAR EDGE: Marine protection in the spotlight

How to use art as an emotional door opener to get people excited about marine protection.

Achilles tendon Arctic

Our senior expert for marine topics and biodiversity on why the Arctic is so important.

A football club built close to the water

“Clean water and water protection” in the sustainability strategy of FC Augsburg.

In demand: Sustainability in sailing

Dr. Katechakis in conversation with professional sailor and sustainability activist Boris Herrmann.

Oceans & Finance with Matthias Bönning

Our Sustainable Finance expert on the economic value of the world's largest ecosystem.

Feeding farmed salmon with seaweed instead of fish oil

fors.earth accompanies this innovation all the way to supermarket shelves.

Together for a healthy Danube river system

Improved sediment management for the Bavarian State Office for the Environment.