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WWF & H&M Group: 10 year Result report [2021]

Internal action (1-3):

Aligning Water Targets with Context

All industries face water risks, but risks vary given the context of industry and its locations. Setting relevant water targets for a company is challenging, as they must support strategic corporate goals while also account for shared water challenges in different contexts. H&M Group was an early adopter of the WWFs Water Risk Filter and now works to set contextual water targets.

Since H&M Group drafted its water strategy in collaboration with WWF in 2011, WWF’s Water Risk Filter has been the company’s main tool to assess the water-related risks facing its operations and supply chain, including dyeing and washing processes.  

“A key insight from using the tool was that withdrawing from one water scarce or polluted location was not likely to lower our water risk exposure. It would just result in swapping to different risks. Instead, by being aware of the shared water challenges, we can work with suppliers and others to address them”, Shariful Hoque, Global Water Responsible at Sustainability-Global Production at H&M Group said.

Setting Targets Into Context

In 2016, H&M Group and WWF started to explore how the company’s target setting could be developed by embedding local water context into the targets (contextual targets). Using the WWF Water Risk Filter, H&M Group and WWF mapped out water risk hotspots in H&M Group’s global supply chain and identified appropriate and customized site-based actions to meet each basin’s unique shared water challenges. 

Combining the data with experience and learnings from the successful water stewardship work carried out in China and Turkey, H&M Group in 2020 began to categorize its suppliers according to the state of local water context and the impacts that suppliers have in this context. 

Next steps will be to set contextual water targets in collaboration with all production offices globally. This means that targets are adapted to each specific region and its local water context and challenges. For instance, this could mean saving water in a region suffering from water shortage while investing in cleaning mechanisms in a basin suffering from pollution.


Setting contextual water targets enables companies, such as H&M Group, to better focus scarce internal resources on actions that are strategically relevant to them while also addressing water challenges that face other users in the basins where these companies operate. It is smart business that is more useful for local communities and better for the planet.

Alexis Morgan, Global Water Stewardship Lead at WWF

Contextual targets – a gateway to water Science-Based Targets

Contextual water targets will support H&M Group in establishing the right processes and systems that ensure that its water performance targets are focusing on what science says are the right issues.

Moreover, getting the alignment right is a critical first step if one is to set targets that also respect ecological boundaries. As the world comes to grips with our planet’s boundaries, companies are increasingly recognizing the need to set targets that also are within our planet’s capacity. With Science-Based Targets now established for carbon, companies and civil society groups are exploring how such targets can be established in other areas such as water.

The next step for H&M Group will therefore be to complement its contextual water targets with water Science-Based Targets where context indicates it is needed.

There is a critical need for companies to shift from business-as-usual performances towards more efforts in line with nature’s boundaries. We are working with businesses to rapidly transition towards science-based targets and welcome the opportunity to work with the H&M Group as they continue to demonstrate leadership on water stewardship

Alexis Morgan, Global Water Stewardship Lead at WWF

While there is currently no globally agreed upon methodology for setting water Science-Based Targets, it is expected to become available over the course of the next couple of years. In the interim, H&M and WWF will be publishing guidance and lessons on the journey to date around contextual targets as the partners get set to take the next steps together – two reports on contextual water targets released in 2021 can be found here.

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