The quintessential first thought when you think of saving water, drilled into us at childhood, is turning off the tap when you brush your teeth. As we age and the world advances — with a global climate agreement and the new Sustainable Development Goals — a broader view on water is now mainstream. It includes economic pillars such as agriculture; the immense amount of cooling water that power plants need to function; and the water embedded in the food you eat, the cotton shirt you wear and even the smart phones we cannot imagine living without.

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Accountants and financial managers work with hard numbers, not ambiguity, which is just as well, since when financial decisions do not rest on reliable fundamentals of finance, flimsy financial instruments can enter the market, a most egregious recent example of which were the mortgage- based instruments that rested on no solid capital or performance data and that caused the real estate bubble of 2008 and near economic collapse in the United States. But solid indicative data on environmental factors in investing have grown with time.

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Thirty-five years ago I recall a teacher explaining to me at school that jet airplane travel had, for the purposes of travel and trade, shrunk the world from the size of a huge beach ball to the size of a golf ball. Since then it has shrunk again and again. The world population is now well over seven billion, and our highly integrated existence therefore requires an evolution of our imagination to successfully manage global problems.

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The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) is transforming the landscape for corporate non-financial reporting. Reporting in November, the Task Force – set up by the G20’s Financial Stability Board – marks a step-change in engagement with climate change.

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