Areas of Focus
The Pacific Institute currently organizes its work around six key issue areas: climate and water, safe and affordable water, corporate water stewardship, healthy aquatic ecosystems, water-smart cities, and sustainable agriculture.
Climate and Water
Climate change is fundamentally altering the water cycle: glaciers and snowpack are shrinking, rainfall patterns are changing, sea level is rising, and floods and droughts are becoming more severe and common. The Pacific Institute works to quantify the impacts of climate change on water resources and systems, to expand strategies that build climate resilience, and to incorporate climate and water into planning and management.
Safe and Affordable Water
Despite nearly two decades of international attention and tens of billions of dollars invested, more than 2.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe, readily available water at home, and some 4.5 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation. The Pacific Institute works to advance universal access to safe and affordable water and sanitation around the world, in particular working through the CEO Water Mandate to encourage businesses to support water access, sanitation, and hygeine services for their employees and in the communities in which they operate.
Corporate Water Stewardship
More than two-thirds of the world’s largest business face water risks – stemming from water scarcity, pollution, weak water governance, and a range of other challenges. Water stewardship offers companies an approach to understand and address these business risks and play a vital role in advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The Pacific Institute’s work on stewardship encourages companies from a range of industries and regions around the world to commit to action, develops and advances resources that help companies fulfill their commitments, and convenes multi-stakeholder events to discuss and address key challenges. Much of the Pacific Institute’s stewardship efforts over the last decade have been conducted through its role as co-secretariat of the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate initiative.
Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems
Half of the world’s wetlands have been lost to development. In some regions, such as California, more than 90% of the state’s wetlands have been lost. The Pacific Institute has been a leader in advancing solutions to ensure that aquatic ecosystems have the water they need to thrive. For example, since 1998 the Pacific Institute has been a leading voice on the protection and preservation of the Salton Sea ecosystem, publishing several reports and journal articles and participating actively on state advisory committees.
As the number of people worldwide living in cities continues to grow, outdated water delivery systems and wasteful water use threaten water supplies. The Pacific Institute’s water-smart cities initiatives focus on shifting from a supply-side orientation to one that also seeks to manage water demand. This approach emphasizes water efficiency; smaller, decentralized systems; and recycling and reusing water.
Agriculture uses approximately 70% of the world’s fresh water supply. The agricultural sector is particularly vulnerable to climate change because it is directly tied to land and water resources. The Pacific Institute conducts research and works with innovative agricultural partners to ensure clean water and sufficient food for current and future generations.