Blog

Pacific Institute Insights is the staff blog of the Pacific Institute, one of the world’s leading nonprofit research groups on sustainable and equitable management of natural resources. For more about what we do, click here.

  • sustainable-agriculture-water-action-hub

    Up-scaling Sustainable Agriculture Initiatives on the Water Action Hub

    By Mai-Lan Ha, Research Associate

    November 19, 2013

    Technology for development has been a hot topic in the development sphere, particularly here in the Bay Area. The rapid advancements in broadband and mobile technology, combined with the proliferation of mobile applications, and increasing internet penetration rates worldwide have allowed these new tools to take a central role in programs working to meet sustainable development objectives.

    A few weeks ago, I attended Net Impact’s annual conference as a judge for AT&T and EDF’s Ideathon, “How Would You Address the Water Crisis,” focused on utilizing mobile technology to help address the issue of water scarcity. The participants were thoughtful young professionals and students interested in understanding more about the water crisis and working with others to develop real solutions to address it. …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • collective-action-morrison-schulte-9-17-13

    Collective Action on Water – To What End?

    By Jason Morrison, Program Director and Peter Schulte, Research Associate

    September 17, 2013

    The United Nations has designated 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation, which highlights the critical importance of cross-sectoral collaboration in promoting sustainable water management. But just to make an obvious point, public-private water stewardship partnerships are not about collective action simply for the sake of collective action; they’re about jointly tackling shared water challenges. And the highest priority ones at that.

    In recent years, companies are beginning to think more systemically and strategically about with whom and on what water issues they look to engage in a collective action context. The $2 billion dollar question (conservative estimate) becomes: are the other two segments of society – public sector and civil society – doing the same? …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • cooling_our_consumption

    AT&T Tool Kit Uncovers Billions of Gallons of Potential Water Savings in Cooling Systems

    Guest Blog by John Schulz, Director, AT&T Sustainability Operations

    September 4, 2013 

    “Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds.”  – Alexander Graham Bell

    Coming from a telecommunications company and attending a conference entitled Water Cooperation – Building Partnerships, I find this an appropriate quote with which to open. It is true that while we can attribute some of the greatest inventions of our time to individuals, it is hardly those individuals alone who achieve them. This is especially true when tackling the challenge to protect and preserve a shared resource such as water. …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • Photos: Eyal Ofer

    Aligning Two Worlds: Business and the Human Right to Water and Sanitation

    By Mai-Lan Ha, Research Associate

    August 21, 2013 

    Available, Affordable, Accessible, Acceptable, and Safe – the cornerstones of the human right to water and sanitation were codified in California in 2012 with the adoption of Assembly Bill 685. California’s adoption of the right heralded another step in the progressive realization of the right to water and sanitation globally. It followed the UN General Assembly’s adoption in 2010 of a binding resolution acknowledging the right to safe drinking water and sanitation and national-level recognition of the right by countries such as South Africa, Kenya, and Belgium.

    The human right to water has been a longstanding area of work for the Pacific Institute, starting with two papers on basic human needs and water and the Human Right to Water in 1996 and 1999, respectively. …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • blog-schulte-8-9-2013

    Why Might Businesses Be Interested in Contributing to Sanitation Efforts?

    By Peter Schulte, Research Associate

    August 9, 2013

    Sanitation is quickly gaining prominence as one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century. This status is well-deserved: 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation. Inadequate sanitation is known to cause chronic health and nutrition problems, prevent children (especially girls) from receiving education, and contribute to water quality/access challenges and ecological degradation. Children living in households with no toilet are twice as likely to get diarrhea as those with a toilet. In the Global South, around 90% of sewage is discharged untreated into rivers, polluting freshwater sources used by communities, agriculture, and industry. …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • blog-7-16-2013-wine-bottles

    National Geographic ScienceBlogs: Things Climate Change May Ruin: From Allergies to Wine

    By Peter Gleick, President

    July 16, 2013

    The evidence from real-world observations, sophisticated computer models, and research in hundreds of different fields continues to pile up: human-caused climate change is already occurring and will continue to get worse and worse as greenhouse-gas concentrations continue to rise.

    Because the climate is connected to every major geophysical, chemical, and biological system on the planet, it should not be surprising that we are learning more and more about the potential implications of these changes for a remarkably wide range of things. And while it is certainly possible – even likely – that climate changes may positively affect some things (like modestly reducing heating bills in colder regions), the planet’s ecosystems and human-built systems have evolved and been built around yesterday’s climatic conditions, not tomorrow’s. Overall, the evidence suggests the bad consequences will greatly – perhaps massively – outweigh the good.

    Continue reading

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • Sustainability Standards Systems

    Voluntary Sustainability Standards and Public Policy – Where Is It Headed?

    By Mai-Lan Ha, Corporate Sustainability Research Associate

    July 1, 2013

    Today, when you enter a supermarket, hardware store, or shop online you are besieged by a variety of labels and stamps claiming products are Fair Trade Certified, certified by the Rainforest Alliance Network, Utz Certified, SA8000 certified, FSC certified amongst many others. The proliferation of voluntary sustainability standards systems has led to questions about their tangible impacts and how to eliminate some of the “noise” of overlapping standards. Yet, a more fundamental question needs to be answered: what should be the role or relationship of voluntary sustainability standards systems to public policy processes toward meeting sustainability objectives? …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • In 2012, 53% of Global 500 companies responding to CDP Water Disclosure reported that they have experienced detrimental water-related impacts to their business in the last five years.

    Shared Risk, Shared Interest: Corporates and Their Role in Sustainable Water Management

    By Peter Schulte, Research Associate

    June 18, 2013 

    Businesses around the world are making the strategic decision to invest in water-use efficiency and wastewater treatment in their operations. From a business perspective, these efforts reduce operational costs, help alleviate reputational damage due to harmful impacts on ecosystems and communities, and manage risks related to insufficient water supplies. However, many businesses are increasingly going beyond these “inside the fencelines” efforts to encourage more sustainable water management throughout their supply chain and the watersheds outside their factory gates.  They do so by facilitating water-use efficiency and pollution reduction measures of other actors in their watersheds; advocating for efficient, equitable, and ecologically sustainable water policies and practices at the local, national, and international scales; investing in public water infrastructure expansions or upgrades; and a variety of other approaches. …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • blog-jm-5-30-13

    Can Business Help Achieve Water-Related Sustainable Development Goals In a Post-2015 World?

    By Jason Morrison, Corporate Sustainability Program Director

    May 30, 2013

    The answer is an emphatic, YES! In fact, given that the private sector accounts for the majority of global water use (when including both industrial water use and companies’ agriculture-based supply chains), one could argue that achieving such goals without direct business involvement and support will be near impossible. The good news is that many in the business community share an interest in achieving more sustainable water management, as there’s a growing understanding within companies that such an outcome is perhaps the most viable long-term strategy for addressing water-related business risk. …»

    • Twitter
    • Facebook