As a public water utility, Watercare is accountable to a wide range of stakeholders, which comprise the entities or individuals that can affect or be affected by our activities. We have a structured process of engagement with many of our stakeholders. Media enquiries, complaints and other public interaction have also helped us to understand stakeholders’ expectations.
Reporting on what’s important to our stakeholders and our business is the basis for this integrated annual report. It is structured around the material customer, business, environmental, social and governance topics that stakeholders and Watercare identified as most relevant in 2020/21.
We commissioned an independent materiality analysis for the 2020/21 year, conducted in May – June 2021. This was completed by Foreseeable, using a process of online surveys and phone interviews with 19 external stakeholders and 15 internal stakeholders.
A long list of topics was developed, based on previous year’s material topics, analysis of global and New Zealand’s water industry, media reports and analysis of Watercare’s risk register. These topics in the long list were then analysed and prioritised using the value creation and risk lenses as well as feedback from stakeholders.
Three key themes emerged from this internal and external engagement process:
- Appetite for a different approach to water
- Scale of the infrastructure challenge
- Auckland’s resilience depends on the resilience of water and wastewater systems.
The themes are interrelated with four common drivers underpinning them:
- Recognition that future water supply is under threat from climate change, but also that infrastructure must be constructed in a way that accommodates future climate-related hazards and minimises the creation of additional emissions.
- The rapid and sustained growth of Auckland’s population spread across both greenfield and infill developments.
- Water restrictions, potable water contamination in areas outside Auckland, and proposed reforms have highlighted the importance of potable water and subsequently public awareness is heightened.
- Acknowledgement that there has been an underinvestment in water and wastewater infrastructure. This is closely tied to how these services have been valued.