2016 Year in Review

In 2016, the Pacific Institute influenced the creation of sensible and strategic water policies by bringing together disparate stakeholders, widely disseminating groundbreaking studies, and shaping debates through high-level media attention. Here is a sample of our broad range of research and outreach this past year:

Progress Through Collaboration

The Pacific Institute continued to make groundbreaking changes in how we use and manage water by bringing together stakeholders with their own agendas to find common ground and advance sensible water policy recommendations and innovative conservation measures.

  • With environmental justice partners, we identified communities in the Bay Area particularly vulnerable to effects of the state’s drought. We organized a summit and produced a study that called for policy changes to address these vulnerabilities.
  • We led the creation of the new California Water Action Collaborative, a coalition of business leaders, industrial operators, agricultural producers, government agencies, and policymakers. We brought these stakeholders together for a summit to identify actions they can take to advance the goals of the state’s California Water Action Plan.
  • We continued to collaborate with state agencies, water suppliers, and environmental and social justice organizations to advise and inform state drought policy, turning groundbreaking research into on-the-ground policy change.
  • On the international front, with partner organizations, we launched WASH4Work to help global company executives address the WASH (Water Access, Sanitation, and Hygiene) challenges in workplaces, in communities where workers live, and across the companies’ supply chains.
  • Also on the international front, with organizational partners we released a study highlighting lessons learned from the decade-long drought in Australia. The study served as a springboard for a highly popular webinar.


Impact Through Outreach
The Virginia Beach Fishing pier with coin-operated sightseeing binoculars.

Our studies and online platforms provided essential research, analysis, and recommendations that led to sustainable and sensible water policies.

  • We produced the first comparative analysis of the costs of alternative water supply and efficiency options in drought-stricken California, from seawater desalination to recycled water and efficiency measures. The study continues to help communities prioritize cost-effective water solutions.
  • In three Issue Briefs, we explored the risks of fracking in California and suggested stronger regulation of the industry and better wastewater handling and management.
  • For World Water Week, we presented our recommendations at the annual global conference to high-level decision makers on topics ranging from the intersection of corporate water stewardship and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to approaches and challenges to WASH in companies’ supply chains.
  • We produced and widely disseminated a comprehensive guidebook to provide community members with the knowledge and tools they need to understand future urban water demand forecasts and tips on how to engage effectively in the decision-making process.
  • We issued an in-depth report that examined Voluntary Sustainability Standards and provided guidance for their use. These standards, which focus on issues such as respect for human rights, workers’ health and safety, and environmental degradation, help governments around the world advance the United Nations’ SDGs.


Shaping Water Debates Through the Media

We provided essential background information and commentary on water-related issues to some of the world’s top media outlets.

Here are a few recent examples of the Pacific Institute shaping the debates on water issues:

Water Strategies for the Next Administration (Peter Gleick)
Drought Hasn’t Lifted, but California’s Water Restrictions Just Did
As California Water Use Rises, Some Ask: Were Limits Eased Too Soon?
Wishful Thinking Won’t End California’s Drought (Peter Gleick)
Congress is about to Wipe out Decades of Progress in Sustainable Water Use
Saving the Salton Sea
One Step to Help Restore Trust in Flint
How Water Use Has Declined with Population Growth

Through blog posts on National Geographic’s ScienceBlogs and the Huffington Post we have explored topics ranging from the steps necessary to save California’s Salton Sea to water’s role in conflict across the globe.
Check out all of our media highlights here.