Atkins launches new paper with Water Industry Forum

Atkins and Water Industry Forum launch paper on driving best value decision-making using a multi-capitals approach.

Atkins has been working in collaboration with leading water industry organisations to launch a new paper - Driving best value decision-making within the water industry using a multi-capitals approach.’

The paper has been produced by the Water Industry Forum, now an independent subsidiary of British Water, working with Atkins and 10 UK water companies and regulators. 

It sets out what is meant by a multi-capitals approach and the drivers and potential benefits. 

A multi-capitals approach extends the traditional focus on financial capital to other forms of capital, including natural, social, human, intellectual and manufactured capital. 

Each of the capitals represent different types of assets or resources that society and organisations rely on for their success.

The paper also aims to demonstrate commitment across the industry, by both water companies and regulators, to ensuring that better decisions are being made that reflect the wider benefits and impacts of the water industry’s services and activities. 

The paper includes three key examples from across the industry to illustrate how multi-capitals approaches are being adopted and used. 

It also sets out success factors influencing the adoption of a multi-capitals approach, key milestones and next steps, which include:

  • The continued promotion of a multi-capitals approach within the water industry and stakeholders to ensure all water companies understand how a multi-capitals approach relates to them and can drive best value decision making.
  • Building on the UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) Future Asset Planning project led by Atkins, and leading work by different water companies, to work towards a common approach by agreeing priority metrics that can form a golden thread from strategic purpose and direction, through to the next round of investment planning, including Water Resource Management Plans (WRMPs), Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans (DWMPs) and the new Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP).
  • Engaging with regulators to work towards recognition of a multi-capitals approach as a way of demonstrating and maximising public value within the water sector, and to support alignment and exploration with other organisations and sectors to achieve further benefits.

Monica Barker, principal consultant at Atkins, said: “This is a really important paper for the industry in terms of developing greater understanding of a multi-capitals approach and the value of that in the water sector.

“We have been able to work with a number of water companies and regulators on this paper which demonstrates a real commitment across the industry to the principles we’re hoping to embed with its launch.”

Peter Drake, executive director of the Water Industry Forum, added: “We believe that this paper constitutes an important milestone in moving away from a purely financial approach to decision-making, to one that reflects the full value of nature and we thank all those that contributed.”

Click here to read the full report.

If you would like to contact Karen McLauchlan about this, or any other story, please email