August 2009 Online Update
Research for People and the Planet  
In This Issue
-Public Comment
-Water Accounting Report
-Water-scarcity Business Risks
-Community Health Report

-In Brief

Water by Numbers
Check out the latest posts on Water by Numbers, Peter Gleick’s blog, featured on San Francisco Chronicle’s City Brights.New water legislation in California: Start of a new era?

Whose water is it? Water rights in the age of scarcity.

Get rid of your clunker: More on inefficient washing machines (and toilets and irrigation systems)


Agriculture Report Impacts California Water Planning
Authors to Meet with Water Summit, Cal Ag Water Council

Report CoverReleased last month, the Pacific Institute report Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future continues to receive attention throughout the state, furthering much needed discussion around the role of water conservation and efficiency in creating a vibrant future for agriculture. In three weeks, the report has been downloaded more than 26,000 times, with nearly 100 media outlets covering the findings, from California farming communities to national and international press.

On August 19, two of the report’s authors, Juliet Christian-Smith and Heather Cooley, will present the report findings and recommendations to the California Agricultural Water Management Council, the main conduit for agricultural water efficiency policies and funding processes in the state.

The authors will also present to the Water Summit, a statewide effort initiated in the fall of 2008 by the Planning Conservation League and the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water to bring together water advocates from environmental, environmental justice, fishing, tribal, and faith-based communities to share perspectives and take coordinated action to reform California water policy.

In The News

Public Comment Period Extended on Guide for Business Engagement in Water-Related Public Policy
Comment Period Now Open through September 4

At the request of the initiative’s stakeholders, the public comment period for the draft annotated outline of The CEO Water Mandate’s best practice guide on corporate engagement in water-related public policy has been extended through September 4.

The 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 policy goals and positively impacting nearby communities and ecosystems.

The public, stakeholders, and other interested parties are invited to provide input at this initial stage in the guide’s development. Comment should be submitted to by September 4, 2009. Those comments that are received before August 14 will be compiled and presented anonymously to stakeholders and endorsing companies attending the Mandate’s upcoming working conference at World Water Week in Stockholm, to help inform the discussion there among endorsing companies and stakeholders regarding the guide and related work.

This guide is a project of The CEO Water Mandate — an initiative established in 2007 under the auspices of the U.N. Global Compact to advance water stewardship in the private sector.

Pacific Institute to Aid United Nations in Organizing World Water Day
2010 Focus is Water Quality

UNEP logoThe Pacific Institute has been asked to serve as the technical and planning advisor to the United Nations Environment Programme for World Water Day 2010, which will be devoted to raising awareness around the critical issue of water quality. Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick will be participating in the first planning seminar for World Water Day 2010 on August 19, part of World Water Week in Stockholm.

The international observance of World Water Day, which was designated by the United Nations General Assembly as March 22 of each year, is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro and has brought attention and actions to issues from coping with water scarcity to water and health.

Pacific Institute Helps State Turn Ag Vision into Policy
Christian-Smith to Participate in Strategy Session

Juliet Christian-SmithThis week Senior Research Associate Juliet Christian-Smith participated in the first of three working group meetings of the California Ag Vision – a process initiated by the State Board of Food and Agriculture to establish a vision for the future of food and agriculture in the State of California.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture and the State Board of Food and Agriculture recently completed visionary goals for California’s agricultural system that now must be turned into a series of policies and actions that will lead the state toward a vibrant agricultural future. To do this, the State Board has commissioned American Farmland Trust (AFT) to manage the creation of a strategic plan for California agriculture in 2030, with a goal of completing it by spring 2010.

To create this strategic plan, AFT has invited approximately 100 people, each representing a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing farmers and consumers in California, to participate in this strategic effort to identify and refine policy options.

“This process represents an effort to expand the voice of the agricultural community to a broader array of people interested in food, health, labor, and wildlife, among other things. Ag Vision could be the beginning of a powerful coalition that has enormous potential for grappling with some of the most challenging issues that our state must address in the next two decades,” said Juliet Christian-Smith, who is an expert on agricultural water uses and climate change. “It is critical for the future that we recognize our shared interest in a vibrant, sustainable agriculture sector and that we work together to find bold new solutions.”

Next Week Marks World Water Week
The CEO Water Mandate to Hold Fourth Working Conference

The Pacific Institute’s President Peter Gleick, Program Director Jason Morrison, and Research Analyst Peter Schulte will be participating in this year’s World Water Week in Stockholm, August 16-21.

As part of the week of events, Peter Gleick will be giving a talk on August 16 at the Stockholm International Water Institute Seminar: Is Rainfall Variability More Significant than Climate Change?
He will also be participating in the United Nations Water Programme planning seminar for World Water Day and The CEO Water Mandate’s working conference.

The CEO Water Mandate LogoLed by Jason Morrison, the Pacific Institute – in its capacity as the operational arm of The CEO Water Mandate – will also be organizing the Mandate’s fourth working conference at World Water Week as well as additional Mandate-related events. As with past working conferences, this event will bring together representatives from endorsing companies and stakeholders from civil society, academia, and intergovernmental organizations to discuss corporate water stewardship. The multi-stakeholder workshop will focus on advancing the initiative’s three main workstreams: water policy engagement, water disclosure, and water and human rights.

The Mandate will also hold a public informational session to garner broader understanding of the initiative among the wider public and to give stakeholders an opportunity to have input into the course of future directions. There will also be a joint workshop between the Mandate and the U.N. Environment Programme convening stakeholders to discuss key issues and preliminary research findings for the upcoming project mapping the current state of water accounting methodologies and supporting tools.

World Water Week is an annual event where experts, practitioners, decision makers, and leaders on water issues from around the world share experience and ideas in order to develop new solutions.

Institute Works to Improve Water Disclosure by Companies

Growing concerns about water quality and sustainability and more consumer awareness of critical water issues have led companies worldwide to publicly disclose data on their water uses, discharges, and other water-related activities. A variety of initiatives have been established to guide these efforts, but existing initiatives have often lacked coordination, causing both substantial overlap and gaps in reporting, which has led to confusion among companies and consumers/stakeholders alike on appropriate practices and expectations.

On July 9 in London, the Pacific Institute, in its capacity as part of the U.N. CEO Water Mandate Secretariat, worked in collaboration with the Global Reporting Initiative and Carbon Disclosure Project to convene a meeting bringing together leaders from key initiatives working on corporate water disclosure in order to facilitate possible coordination among these groups, and ultimately strengthen corporate water reporting practices. Funded by the U.N. Environment Programme, the objectives of the coordination meeting were to:

  1. Identify the broad framework (and corollary stakeholder actions) through which corporate public disclosure can lead to improved management practices;
  2. “Map” existing initiatives in relation to actions to determine where overlaps and gaps in necessary work are occurring;
  3. Use this mapping to determine what steps can be taken to better coordinate and harmonize water disclosure activities and initiatives.

A summary of the meeting’s outcomes will be published on the Pacific Institute website in the coming weeks. For more information, contact Jason Morrison, Program Director, at 510.251.1600 x107.

In Brief

Youth Lead Community Forum on Indicators Project Research
RYSERichmond youth leaders held a community forum on July 15 to present and discuss findings from the recent Pacific Institute report, Measuring What Matters: Neighborhood Research for Economic and Environmental Health and Justice in Richmond, North Richmond, and San Pablo. The team from the RYSE Youth Center and Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization designed the event to highlight project research and their own experiences with the lack of access to youth programs for 15-20- year-olds in West Contra Costa County. The forum featured an original video, testimonies, an interactive quiz show game, and research findings and recommendations for changes to city policy and programming. Over 60 people participated, including dozens of youth, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, and County Supervisor John Gioia.

City of Oakland Follows Community Recommendations for Green Development of Oakland Army Base
On July 28, the City of Oakland adopted several of the priorities put forth by West Oakland community members, the Pacific Institute, and allied organizations in choosing a developer for the redevelopment of the Oakland Army Base. City Council members unanimously passed a resolution to have two problematic West Oakland recycling facilities moved to the base, and ordered staff to analyze strategies for developing a state-of-the-art recycling facility that would simultaneously provide family-supporting jobs and community health and environmental benefits.

Young Environmental Leaders Visit Pacific Institute to Learn about California Water Policy
On July 17, the Greenlining Institute — a multi-ethnic public policy research and advocacy group based in Berkeley, brought a dozen young environmental leaders from around the country to visit the Pacific Institute to discuss California water policy. The young leaders met with the Pacific Institute’s Juliet Christian-Smith and Meena Palaniappan, as well as with other organizations and experts, as part of the Greenlining Academy leadership training program.

Cohen Participates in Panel on Colorado River
On September 17, Senior Research Associate Michael Cohen will join the “Colorado River Augmentation” panel at the Water Education Foundation’s Colorado River Symposium in Santa Fe. For more information, click here.


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