Online Updates: May 2010 Online Update


  May 2010 Online Update
Research for People and the Planet  
In This Issue
-Bottled and Sold
-Foundations for Change Honors Garzon
-Institute Helps Convene CEO Mandate Events
-Public Comment Period on Responsible Business Engagement Guide

-Scientists Defend Climate Science Integrity

Water by Numbers
Check out the latest posts on Water by Numbers, Peter Gleick’s blog, featured on San Francisco Chronicle’s City Brights.More on Climate Deniers and their Abuse of ScienceSmart Water Meters, Dumb Water Meters, No MetersBottled and Sold: What’s Really in our Bottled Water


Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water:
Peter Gleick’s New Book is Bottled and Sold

Bottled and Sold

Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick’s new book, Bottled and Sold, shows how water went from being a free natural resource to one of the most successful commercial products of the last one hundred years — and why we are poorer for it. Every second of every day in the United States, a thousand people buy a plastic bottle of water, and every second of every day a thousand more throw one of those bottles away. That adds up to more than thirty billion bottles a year and tens of billions of dollars of sales.

Are there legitimate reasons to buy all those bottles? Gleick investigates whether industry claims about the relative safety, convenience, and taste of bottled versus tap hold water. And he exposes the true reasons we’ve turned to the bottle, from fear mongering by business interests and our own vanity to the breakdown of public systems and global inequities.

“Designer” H2O may be laughable, but the debate over commodifying water is deadly serious. It comes down to society’s choices about human rights, the role of government and free markets, the importance of being “green,” and fundamental values. Gleick gets to the heart of the bottled water craze, exploring what it means for us to bottle and sell our most basic necessity.

Read more.

Purchase Bottled and Sold.

Read Peter Gleick’s blogs on Bottled Water at SF Gate.

Read excerpt from Bottled and Sold at Circle of Blue’s Water News.

Garzón Honored with Foundations for Change Prize

Catalina Garzón, co-director of the Institute’s Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice program, has been recognized with the 2010 Foundations for Change Thomas I. Yamashita Prize for her outstanding contributions to social change. The award “honors a person whose work transforms the existing social landscape” by building “the capacity of community-based organizations and social movements to confront pressing issues,” and “sharing the insights and knowledge produced from community engagement with the broader academic community.” At an April 30 ceremony at the University of California, Berkeley Women’s Faculty Club, Garzón was recognized for her principled community-based participatory research and her pioneering teaching and thought leadership within the academy.

Read more about the Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice Program.

Garzon Awarded Yamashita Prize

Donald Tamaki, nephew of Thomas Yamashita, greets award-winner Catalina Garzón.

Photo: Azibuike Akaba

Pacific Institute Works with CEO Water Mandate Events


CEO Water Mandate From April 14-16 in New York City, the Pacific Institute helped convene a series of events on behalf of the CEO Water Mandate, a UN Global Compact initiative aimed at advancing corporate water stewardship. The meetings consisted of:

1. A two-day multistakeholder Working Conference focused on advancing the initiative’s three main workstreams: business engagement with water policy, water and human rights, and water disclosure;

2. A joint Mandate-UNEP multistakeholder dialogue on emerging practice and opportunities for alignment among initiatives developing corporate water accounting methods and tools;

3. A convening of the Mandate’s Human Rights Working Group to discuss current corporate practice regarding respecting the human right to water, as well as possible ways the Mandate can advance understanding of and action on this issue;

4. A joint session of the Alliance for Water Stewardship and the Mandate to improve understanding and awareness across the initiatives and discuss conceptual and practical alignment between them.

At the Working Conference, Mandate endorsers and key stakeholders provided input and feedback on the public consultation draft of the initiative’s upcoming Guide to Responsible Business Engagement with Water Policy. They also explored the merits, pitfalls, and realities of formal corporate policies regarding the human right to water and considered activities the Mandate can take in advancing this issue. In addition, endorsers and stakeholders discussed findings from endorsers’ Communications on Progress – Water. This was used as a starting point for discussing ways in which companies can make their reports more meaningful and how the Mandate itself can drive harmonization and convergence among existing corporate water disclosure initiatives.

A detailed summary of the discussion and outcomes from the New York City meetings will be released in the coming weeks on the CEO Water Mandate website.

Read more about the Pacific Institute’s work with the CEO Water Mandate and corporate water stewardship.

Public Comment Period Extended through May 12 on Guide to Responsible Business Engagement with Water Policy

The Pacific Institute — in its role as the operational arm of the CEO Water Mandate — is currently drafting a best practice guidance on responsible business engagement with water policy in collaboration with WWF International and the Mandate’s Policy Engagement Working Group. This Guide ultimately aims to provide principles, concepts, practical steps, and case examples that can facilitate companies’ responsible engagement with water policy in a manner that reduces business risks while advancing established policy goals and positively impacting nearby communities and ecosystems.A full draft of this Guide is currently open to public review via the Pacific Institute’s website through May 12, 2010. We strongly encourage any and all interested stakeholders to read the document and provide feedback on its structure, conceptual underpinnings, applicability, and readability. We will use these comments to inform the final version of the Guide.

Read the draft Guide and get directions for the comment process.

Pacific Gleick Signs on with National Academy Scientists Defending Climate Science Integrity


Science journal publishes strongly worded climate science statement

Institute President Peter Gleick is among the 255 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences who have joined together to defend the rigor and objectivity of climate science. Their statement, “Climate Change and the Integrity of Science,” is published in the May 7 issue of the journal Science as the Lead Letter, along with a supporting editorial.

This statement, signed by 255 of the world’s leading scientists, including 11 Nobel laureates, explains the scientific research process and confirms the fundamental conclusions about climate change based on the work of thousands of scientists worldwide. It specifically reaffirms the “compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend,” and highlights that there is nothing identified in recent events that has changed the fundamental conclusions about climate change. The statement also condemns recent political attacks on climate scientists.

Scientists from 53 different disciplines, like environmental sciences and ecology, chemistry, geology, geophysics, plant and microbial biology, and more, all members of the National Academy of Sciences but signing on as individuals, came together in agreement to reiterate an urgent call to action: “Society has two choices: we can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively.”

Read the Science letter.

Read Peter Gleick’s Huffington Post blog on the Science letter.

In Brief

Community Strategies Presents on Community Mapping Work
On April 17, Co-director CATALINA GARZON and Research Fellow EYAL MATALON of the Institute’s Community Strategies Program presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers on tools and best practices for community-based, participatory mapping. The presentation focused on two projects that engaged community-based organizations and residents in mapping the impacts of freight transport on low-income communities of color in the Bay Area. Garzón and Matalon discussed the value of a popular education approach to community mapping, which uses mapping tools to document and build a shared analysis of the everyday experiences of those most affected by an issue. Their presentation was titled “Putting Our Stories on the Map: Participatory Mapping and Popular Education for Environmental Justice in Freight Transport-Impacted Communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

PETER GLEICK, president of the Pacific Institute, addressed two important international gatherings in April. At Biovision 2010 in Alexandra, Egypt, he spoke on “The World’s Water – Crisis and Opportunities.” This year’s Biovision conference, with the theme of “New Life Sciences: Future Prospects,” brought in 100 scientists and leading experts from around the world in the fields of health, agriculture environment, in addition to policy-makers and NGO representatives. With more than 1000 participants, the event provides a platform for exchange of information and dialogue for exploring the different ways in which life sciences can help meet the world’s challenges for global economic development to improve the quality of life for all.

At the Skoll World Forum in London, Gleick spoke on the panel “Water Scarcity and the Human Right to Water.” The focus of this year’s forum was “catalyzing collaboration for large scale change,” and influential social entrepreneurs, social investors, and thought leaders from all sectors engaged in critical discussions and work sessions designed to create partnerships, networks, knowledge, and collaborative pathways between the social, policy, academic, and private sectors.

Listen to the Skoll panel on “Water Scarcity and the Human Right to Water.”

MEENA PALANIAPPAN, director of the International Water and Communities Initiative, presented during two sessions of the Global Philanthropy Forum’s 2010 Conference, “Defy Barriers, Effect Change: Access to Health, Food and Water,” on April 19 and 20 in Redwood City. She addressed the need for sustainable water management and the need to focus on community-driven solutions in a plenary session on “Effecting Change, Improving Access to Water,” and she presented in a session on “Water: Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation” on the need to release trapped knowledge in the water sector so that it can be used to improve water and sanitation conditions among the global poor.

PETER SCHULTE, research analyst for the Institute’s Globalization Program, spoke at BrightTALK’s Water Management Summit via webcast on April 21. He primarily addressed ways private companies can engage with water policy in a manner that reduces business risks while advancing established policy goals and positively impacting nearby communities and ecosystems, as well as the CEO Water Mandate’s upcoming guide on this issue. The webcast is available online (requires you to register with BrightTALK).