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  Year in Review – Momentum into 2010
Research for People and the Planet  
In This Issue
-2009 Research
-Climate Change
-Western Water
-World’s Water
-International Water and Communities
-Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice
-Globalization and Standards
-Recognition
-A Year of Significant Headway
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2009

Research

Understanding and Reducing the Risks of Climate Change for Transboundary Waters (for the United Nations Environment Programme)

Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future

Measuring What Matters: Neighborhood Research for Economic and Environmental Health and Justice in Richmond, North Richmond, and San Pablo (in English and Spanish)

Climate Change and Global Water Crisis: What Businesses Need to Know and Do (with the United Nations Global Compact)

Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast

Water Disclosure 2.0: Assessment of Current and Emerging Practice in Corporate Water Reporting (for the CEO Water Mandate)

Water Scarcity and Climate Change: Growing Risks for Businesses and Investors (with Ceres)

Energy Implications of Bottled Water (published in Environmental Review Letters)

Taking a Toll (with the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy)

The World’s Water 2008-2009 (sixth book in the seminal biennial series)

As we head full steam into 2010, the Pacific Institute is carrying on the momentum of a tremendously productive 2009. What a year it has been! And what a year it has been for the Pacific Institute. For more than two decades we have been doing research that matters — and over the past 12 months, water, climate, energy, and justice issues made more and more headlines. So did the work of the Pacific Institute. Here is a summary of just some of what we accomplished in 2009.

Climate Change

Sea-level Rise Report Influences State Planning

 

We released The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast, a critical analysis of this major consequence of climate change, identifying risks and Sea-level Rise Reportsolutions. The Institute has been tireless in bringing the issue of climate change into the water discussion, and we have kept policy makers focused on it for two decades.

On the day the sea-level rise report was released, we had more than a million and a half hits on our website, and within a month, the report had been downloaded 100,000 times. But more significant than these big numbers are the singular events that they led to. Within a few weeks of the report release, the first in a series of cities announced its intention to take our findings and recommendations into consideration in revising their General Plans; the Governor acknowledged our work as a key issue for coastal planners; and Google used our maps in a new online climate impacts project.

In its 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy, the State draws heavily on this Pacific Institute research, not only on sea-level rise impact projections, but also recognizing the environmental justice concerns sea-level rise may pose. Institute President Peter Gleick was invited to join the Governor for the report release in December.

Western Water

Institute Research on Conservation and Efficiency Leads the Way

Sustaining California Agriculture ReportAt this critical juncture for Western water, the Pacific Institute remains at the center of efforts to address the water crisis with innovative solutions: our work on the economic and employment implications of water policy; the environmental and economic implications of desalination; the connections among energy, water, and climate; and agricultural water conservation and efficiency (Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future) are leading to real policy change.

In September we were invited to Governor Schwarzenegger’s office for a private face-to-face meeting that led to a dramatic change in the Governor’s position on key water issues, especially on groundwater monitoring and management. The new California Water Bill, weak as it is, includes the first real targets for improving urban water use and the first real effort to monitor groundwater — both recommendations taken from Pacific Institute work.

The Pacific Institute was accepted as the newest voting member of the California Agricultural Water Management Council — the main conduit for agricultural water efficiency policies and funding processes in the state. We will also be serving as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the California Urban Water Conservation Council.

The Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program Steering Committee unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Laguna Division Conservation Area design and also supported a funding increase for the project, a critical step in the Institute’s participation in a multi-year effort to rehabilitate the degraded Laguna Reach of the Colorado River.

World’s Water

The World’s Water Heats Up Sustainability Conversation

 

The Pacific Institute continues to be one of the most effective organizations in The World's Water 2008-2009the world addressing freshwater problems and solutions. Our much anticipated sixth volume, The World’s Water 2008-2009, was published with chapters and information that ramped up the conversation on “peak water,” China’s water crisis, our own water footprint, and more.

We released the updated Water and Conflict Chronology with hundreds of entries and new interactive maps and timeline to bring history to bear on the increased risk of conflict over water resources, and produced a new report for the United Nations on Understanding and Reducing the Risks of Climate Change for Transboundary Waters. The U.N. also has called on the Pacific Institute to write the background research paper and to be its partner in planning World Water Day 2010 to raise awareness and promote action on the world’s urgent water-quality issues.

Five Pacific Institute researchers presented at the World Water Forum in Istanbul, from framing the links between climate change and water, to sharing techniques for improved water-use efficiency. Institute President Peter Gleick attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, participating in a series of public and private meetings on global environmental issues and water, culminating in the public plenary session on the “Politics of Water.”

International Water and Communities

Community Input and Community Choices Tool Make a Difference

 

Woman_with_WaterBillions of people live without safe water and sanitation, and yet hundreds of effective technologies and approaches exist to meet these needs. The Pacific Institute created no less than a paradigm shift in knowledge management in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector this year with the prototype of the “Community Choices” tool. The goal of our project is to release trapped knowledge in the WASH sector. Instead of collecting information and storing it in books and web pages, we seek to make dynamic and comprehensive information easily accessible and usable to the non-expert by asking a series of simple questions about community context. The critical challenge is to connect people to technologies and financing approaches that can meet the needs of the billions of unserved and underserved.

Climate change will have its most dramatic impacts on the poor and their access to water resources. In India, we worked directly with community members, government agencies, and the private sector to identify strategies to improve water security in the face of climate variability. We conducted an intensive series of group discussions to discover the kinds of tools different stakeholders need to plan for increasing water insecurity due to climate change, and surveyed several hundred households door-to-door to document water use, coping strategies, and information needs.

Through these efforts we identified a key set of strategies to face increasing uncertainty in water supply, such as increasing in-house and community water storage capacity and increasing water-use efficiency. We are now developing several tools to assist communities in developing resilience to climate change and water impacts.

The Pacific Institute influenced key decision makers, planners, and engineers through a series of high-profile talks given at venues throughout the world, including presenting “New Solutions to the World’s Water Crisis” at the World Affairs Council and at the World Water Forum in Istanbul, and presenting on water at the Global Grand Challenges Forum and at the Western Africa Regional Sanitation and Hygiene Symposium.

Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice

Institute Teaches Others How to Use Research and Action for Change

The Pacific Institute partnered with seven local organizations to tackle interconnected environmental and Measuring What Matterseconomic problems in West Contra Costa County, Calif., by offering solutions for a better, more equitable way of life. Our Measuring What Matters indicators report laid out how issues like pollution of creeks and bays, diesel pollution from freight transport, quality of parks and streetlights, and insufficient youth programs are both the result of and lead to severe social inequities.

Since the release of this bilingual report in June, more than 14,000 copies have been downloaded to raise awareness and facilitate community actions, including campaigns to increase public funding of city parks, to build community awareness for preventing lead poisoning, to pass local policy to increase Chevron’s contributions to Richmond’s public revenue, and more. The Neighborhood House of North Richmond is creating an Environmental Health Department to build on work carried out through the Measuring What Matters project. Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia recognized the Pacific Institute for its contributions to the environmental justice movement and the project was hailed “an amazing success” by the Environmental Grantmakers Association newsletter.

A new Pacific Institute report on the Port of Oakland trucking system, coauthored by the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy and written for the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports, found enormous costs of health, environment, and worker impacts due to Port truck diesel pollution and poor working conditions. The report, Taking a Toll, estimates that the economic cost to the Bay Area of these health impacts reaches at least $153 million annually from premature deaths, hospital admissions, and missed school and work days. The report and related advocacy helped pressure the Port of Oakland to pass a long-awaited ban on old, dirty Port trucks in October.

The Institute, with the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, hosted representatives from 12 organizations and tribes working on environmental justice and water issues around the country, one of the first ever opportunities for these organizations to convene to share ideas about the role of federal water policy in tackling local water and environmental justice issues. The group’s recommendations will also weigh into a new Pacific Institute book on U.S. Water Policy.

Community Leadership Academy

A Pacific Institute and community partner, West Oakland EIP, launched a Community Leadership Academyto train and mobilize a cadre of community members to take a leadership role in reducing the impacts of Port of Oakland and truck operations in West Oakland neighborhoods. Nine community residents graduated from the Academy, which took place in four-hour sessions over four Saturdays, and continue to advocate for clean air and healthy land use in West Oakland.  (Photo: West Oakland EIP’s Athena Applon leads a power mapping exercise for the Community Leadership Academy

Globalization and Standards

Addressing Water Risks for Businesses Comes to the Fore

Our report Water Scarcity and Climate Change: Growing Risks for Businesses and Investors, issued withCEO Water Mandate Logo Ceres, shed important light on the critical link between climate change and water issues and demonstrated why businesses should address risks of water scarcity and conflict as urgently as addressing energy security and climate change. Continuing to examine business and water, the Institute released Climate Change and the Global Water Crisis: What Businesses Need to Know and Do, exploring the links between climate change and water from both the scientific and corporate management perspectives.

The Pacific Institute was selected to serve as independent expert to investigate issues around credibility and accountability of ethical trade and labeling, conducting independent research and clarifying the nature and extent of inaccurate or false ethical trade claims and the problems they present for consumers. We presented the findings in multi-stakeholder roundtable in The Hague, the Netherlands.

As hosts of a strategic retreat on Framing International Standards and Certification, the Institute brought together 25 leading experts in social and environmental standards to discuss the challenges and roles of voluntary standards systems in advancing sustainability.

As part of the secretariat of the United Nations CEO Water Mandate since its inception, the Pacific Institute continued working with the U.N. Global Compact initiative aimed at advancing corporate water stewardship. We helped convene the third and fourth working conferences of the Mandate held at the Istanbul World Water Forum and Stockholm World Water Week. The Institute helped the initiative to become more transparent and inclusive by organizing public events at both of these water conferences, and incorporating and managing public review periods for the Mandate’s major publications.

Commissioned by the U.N.’s CEO Water Mandate, the Pacific Institute published reports such as From Footprint to Public Policy – The Business Future for Addressing Water Issues;  Water and Human Rights – Exploring the Roles and Responsibilities of Business; and Water Disclosure 2.0 – Assessment of Current and Emerging Practice in Corporate Water Reporting, which found better and more expansive disclosure is critical for understanding the true risks and impacts associated with companies’ water needs.

Recognition

Institute’s Work Is Awarded Nationally and Locally

This year the impact of our work was acknowledged by several awards. The Institute received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Award for “Environmental Excellence;” the American Water Resources Association’s “Csallany Award” for exemplary contributions to water resources; and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s “Partners in Conservation” Award from Secretary Salazar for the Institute’s collaborative efforts to develop and refine shortage criteria for the Colorado River. The Institute’s West County Indicators Project was hailed “an amazing success” in an article in the Environmental Grantmakers Association national newsletter, titled “Minding the Justice Gap: Bay Area Organizations Offer a Model for Hard Times” (page 12), and was honored with an award for “contributions to the environmental justice movement in Contra Costa County” by the North Richmond Municipal Advisory Committee.

 

A Year of Significant Headway

Institute Makes Change, Makes Headlines, Makes a Difference

The Pacific Institute analysis of newly released U.S. water-use figures showed that despite continuing population growth, despite continued economic growth, total water use in the United States is lower than it was 30 years ago, and per-capita water use is a dramatic 30 percent lower than in 1975. The new numbers are the latest evidence for a remarkable change toward more efficient water use — a cWater Use 2005hange the Pacific Institute has been calling for and working for since our founding 22 years ago. And we have only begun to tap the savings potential.

The Pacific Institute has moved water issues from the periphery of public perception and policy action to the center. Since last year we have met with 11 governors; we have testified before the U.S. Congress and state legislators; our research and experts were in the media more than one thousand times. We produced nine new publications (and our full works available online were downloaded an astounding 800,000 times).