Huffington Post: The New UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Fresh Water

Posted on: No Comments

By Peter Gleick, President

August 12, 2015

For 15 years, the world community has worked to achieve a comprehensive set of goals and targets called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – launched in 2000 to tackle poverty, economic and environment inequity, and strategies for effective development. The MDGs concluded this year, and a new set of goals to replace them have been in design and negotiation for some time. These new objectives – now called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – are now final, offering global priorities for sustainable development beyond 2015. Figure 1 lists the 17 overarching SDGs. Each one is accompanied by specific targets and measured by specific indicators. Individual governments will be responsible for setting their own specific national targets based on their own priorities and circumstances.


National Geographic ScienceBlogs: The Future of Desalination in California is Still in the Future: California, Israel, and Australia

Posted on: 1 Comment

By Peter Gleick, President

June 10, 2015

It’s only natural that during a crisis we look to single, “silver bullet” technical solutions, after all, they are supposed to be effective against werewolves, witches, and other monsters. For monsters like the ongoing severe California drought, the current favorite silver bullet is seawater desalination.  And why not? California sits at the edge of the largest body of salt water in the world – the Pacific Ocean – and taking salt out of water is a successful, commercial, well-understood technology.


2014 Year in Review

Posted on:

In this Year End Review:

  • Victories of 2014
  • Sustainable Water Management
  • Corporate Sustainability
  • California Drought Initiative 
  • Upcoming Projects in 2015
And more! 

National Geographic ScienceBlogs: An Open Memo on Ebola and Water

Posted on: No Comments

by Peter Gleick, President

October 13, 2014

As input to the ongoing discussions about how to meet and overcome the spreading risks of Ebola, here are some summary thoughts about the water-related components of U.S. efforts. Specifics about the operations and effectiveness of water treatment or supply technologies, or the medical and health implications of their use must be verified by the designers/makers of the technology along with medical experts from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), West African health and water officials, and related institutions.


National Geographic ScienceBlogs: The Death of the Aral Sea

Posted on: No Comments

by Peter Gleick, President

September 26, 2014

In the 20th century, society was either ignorant of, or ignored, the consequences of bad water management. The goal was economic development at all costs. Over the past few decades, we’ve learned about the ecological and social implications of the misuse of water, and some efforts have been made to protect natural ecosystems, restore a modicum of flows, bring local communities into the discussion about water policy and infrastructure. These are steps in the right direction.

But sometimes our failures have been monumental — and uncorrected.

Perhaps the best, or worst, example, is the complete destruction of the Aral Sea. Once one of the four largest lakes in the world by surface area, fed by the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, it has now been destroyed by the complete diversion of inflows to grow crops — largely cotton — in the arid regions of  Uzbekistan (with parts of the watershed of the Sea in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan).

All 24 species of fish endemic to the Aral Sea are now extinct. Dust storms spread respiratory diseases. And the local climate has been altered.


Huffington Post: Water and Conflict in Syria

Posted on: 1 Comment

By Peter Gleick, President

May 28, 2014

Drought, Water and Agricultural Management, and Climatic Conditions as Factors in the Syrian Conflict

Starting in 2006 and lasting through 2011, Syria suffered the worst long-term drought and the most severe set of crop failures in recorded history. In a new research paper, I’ve looked at the role of regional drought, unsustainable water management policies, and climatic conditions in contributing to the severe conflict in Syria in the past few years (see the peer-reviewed paper “Water, Drought, Climate Change, and Conflict in Syria” by Dr. Peter H. Gleick, coming out in the July issue — and here online — in the American Meteorological Society journal Weather, Climate, and SocietyA press release on this paper is now available, here). Many factors influenced the civil war in Syria, including long-standing political, religious, and ideological disputes; economic dislocations from both global and regional factors; and the consequences of water shortages influenced by drought, ineffective watershed management, and the growing influence of climate variability and change.


Pacific Institute, Nexleaf Analytics and Solo Kota Kita Sign MOU to Scale WASH SMS in Indonesia

Posted on:

smsair-logoMarch 13, 2014,  Oakland, Calif.: The Pacific Institute, Nexleaf Analytics and Indonesia’s Yayasan Kota Kita Surakarta, aka Solo Kota Kita (English, ‘Our City Solo’) signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding to pursue joint research and development of WASH SMS in Indonesia.

John Taylor, director of Solo Kota Kita, Dr. Martin Lukac, CTO of Nexleaf Analytics, and Misha T. Hutchings, Pacific Institute Senior Research Associate and WASH SMS Program Manager, signed the joint agreement in February to transition management of SMS AIR (as WASH SMS is known in Indonesian) from the two U.S. based organizations to an Indonesian organization that will continue working with the communities and local government agencies in Malang and Makassar to maximize use of the systems for advocacy, customer management, planning, and surveying purposes. The organizations will also work together to conduct further research on the applications of the tool in urban settlings as well as to develop Solo Kota Kita’s capacity to offer SMS AIR as ‘software as a service’ to water and other utilities, local governments and communities throughout Indonesia.

Solo Kota Kita ( develops spatial data and information tools for neighborhood advocacy and citizen planning in Surakarta (Solo), Central Java, Indonesia. The goal of Solo Kota Kita is to increase awareness of urban issues so residents can strengthen their voice as active citizens, especially in the participatory budgeting process known locally as musrenbang. Through their work since 2009, Solo Kota Kita has been able to demonstrate that making decisions based on information and spatial data can lead to a stronger connection between what residents want and need and how local government invests in the communities. Solo Kota Kita has also worked with local governments and NGOs in several other Indonesian cities, including Banjarmasin, Makassar, Padang, and Pekalongan, to develop survey and spatial data analysis capacity, giving Solo Kota Kita the vision, reputation and knowledge to scale SMS AIR to other cities in Indonesia.

Pacific Institute and Nexleaf Analytics have worked together since 2010 to develop and disseminate the mobile phone mapping application, WASH SMS, to assist communities and water and sanitation utilities to face access and service provision challenges. Nexleaf Analytics ( develops unique technology solutions, primarily using mobile phones, to address environmental and public health data issues.With support from USAID and the Cisco Foundation, the partners developed the proof-of-concept and beta versions of WASH SMS with utilities, government agencies, local NGOs, and communities in the cities of Malang and Makassar, Indonesia, to collect and visualize information to strengthen the local governance process regarding the status of the water supply and provision of water and sanitation services, especially among poor urban communities. 

Pacific Institute Accepting Applications for Communications Internship

Posted on:

The Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif. is seeking a part-time, unpaid Communications Intern. The Pacific Institute is an independent nonprofit founded in 1987 that works to create a healthier planet and sustainable communities. We conduct interdisciplinary research and partner with stakeholders to produce solutions that advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity. We carry out research, publish reports, recommend solutions, and work with decision makers, advocacy groups, and the public to change policy.

The Communications Intern provides support to the Communications department, working to enhance the Institute’s effectiveness by promoting our work to the media, policymakers, academic and scientific communities, local communities, and the general public.


This internship requires an individual who can wear a number of hats in assisting in outreach and communications for the Institute. Responsibilities, a number of which are shared with the Communications Manager, include, but are not limited to:

-Compile the Institute’s monthly online newsletter and input final draft into our emailing marketing service.

Assist in monitoring and maintaining lists, such as logging media stories and producing web hits reports.

-Mine the news for stories to post on the Institute social media pages.

-Assist in the development and organization of the Communication Department’s database of contacts, press hits, and collateral materials.

-Archive and manage the storage, use, and distribution of Institute images; acquire photos for blogs and reports.

-Assist in production of reports and materials.

-Maintain Institute style and reference guides and other materials.

Required Qualifications:

– Solid skill (or good working ability and willing/able to acquire more skill quickly) in WordPress and Photoshop for website management.

– Ability to lay out basic publications in Word, importing Excel charts and tables, photos, etc.

– Previous internship experience.

– Proficiency with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

– Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work closely and constructively with others.

– Ability to manage time effectively, juggle multiple tasks, and set and meet deadlines.

– Flexibility, curiosity, a sense of humor, and self-motivation.

Additional Desired Qualifications:

– Familiarity with working with the press, policymakers, communities, and nonprofit organizations.

– Demonstrated interest in and a commitment to environmental sustainability.

– Experience with website and email campaign design and management.

– New media and/or IT experience.

– Experience with web development and graphic design software.

Details: This is a part-time, 15-20 hours-per-week unpaid internship

Application Process: Please submit a cover letter, resume, one writing sample to:

No applications accepted after April 18, 2014.

No calls please.

For information about the Pacific Institute, visit

Diversity for Sustainability 2014 Summer Internship Now Accepting Applications

Posted on:

2014 Application Deadline is March 14

The Pacific Institute in Oakland, California has established the Diversity for Sustainability Internship Program. This exciting internship program is part of the Institute’s commitment to furthering diverse perspectives both in our own work and in the critical fields of environmental sustainability and social justice. The program will bring emerging environmental leaders from a variety of backgrounds to contribute to our work under the mentorship of knowledgeable research staff. Interns will develop a deeper understanding of and hands-on experience with fundamental skills for environmental research and outreach and have the opportunity to make connections for their future success.

Who We Are: The Pacific Institute is one of the world’s leading independent nonprofits conducting research to create a healthier planet and sustainable communities. Based in Oakland, California, we conduct interdisciplinary research and partner with stakeholders to produce evidence-based solutions that advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity—in California, nationally, and internationally. We work to change policy and find real-world solutions to problems like water shortages, habitat destruction, global warming, and environmental injustice. Since our founding in 1987, the Pacific Institute has become a locus for independent, innovative thinking that cuts across traditional areas of study, helping us make connections between divergent perspectives and bring diverse stakeholders together. The result is effective, actionable solutions addressing issues in the fields of freshwater resources, climate change, environmental justice, and globalization.

Diversity for Sustainability Internship Program Goals: The goal of the Pacific Institute Diversity for Sustainability Internship Program is to train the next generation of sustainability and environmental and economic justice leaders. The complex environmental challenges facing our society call for innovative and forward-thinking solutions from leaders who bring knowledge and expertise that traverse a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives. The Internship Program seeks to provide each intern with significant and varied experiences to build skills in research, outreach, and leadership; to benefit from a committed mentor; to have the opportunity to network with other professionals in the sustainability field; and to accomplish a specific project(s) that also contributes to his/her resume. Interns will gain experience working in a nonprofit organization, including such tasks as reading and analyzing academic reports and other literature, analyzing data, writing reports and related materials, conducting internet research and field research, assisting in outreach, giving presentations, and connecting with others in the field.


  • The Diversity for Sustainability Intern will work 20 hours per week for 10 weeks beginning in June 2014.
  • Compensation is a stipend of $2500, valuable nonprofit work experience, professional development and mentorship from skilled researchers, and opportunity for references from a reputable organization.

Types of Project Work:

Varying from year to year, interns may be involved in activities such as:

  • conducting primary and secondary research on health and resilience factors in local communities;
  • developing and presenting summaries for policymakers and the public from the Institute’s research work;
  • researching and writing case studies or success stories on a water-use-related or other environmental topic;
  • evaluating existing technologies and web pages for development of online tools and mobile applications to improve social and environmental services;
  • creating digital maps, analyzing data from public agencies, meeting with community groups for participatory research projects.


The successful Pacific Institute Diversity for Sustainability Intern Program candidates will:

  • Come from groups that are under-represented in the professional environmental field and research sector (for example, but not limited to, people of color; educationally, physically, or economically disadvantaged; women; etc.), and/or with life circumstances, experiences, skills, or talents that will enrich the perspective of the Pacific Institute and in the environmental sustainability and justice fields.
  • Demonstrate through coursework or activities their interest and experience in environmental sustainability and/or social and economic justice.
  • Be enrolled in an undergraduate program (especially at a community college or state university); or be in your first year of a relevant Master’s program (note: this is a new criterion); or be a non-student with relevant life experience.
  • Have strong writing and computer skills.
  • Have a demonstrated ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds.

Application Procedure – DUE BY MARCH 14, 2014:

1.  Please prepare a letter of interest of no more than two pages detailing:

  • your experience and/or interest in environmental sustainability and justice work;
  • your interest in the work of the Pacific Institute (;
  • how you meet the specific qualifications listed in the section above. (If applicable, you may also describe any disadvantages or challenges that you have successfully overcome, including linguistic barriers or a personal or family history of educational or socioeconomic disadvantage.)

2. Resume

3. Name and phone number of two references (non-family members, such as a work supervisor, teacher, or counselor)

4. Email to by March 14, 2014. (If you prefer to send a hard copy, mail to: Pacific Institute, attn.: Diversity Internship, 654 13th St., Oakland, CA 94612.)

NO phone calls please.

If you are selected for an interview, you will be contacted by April 4, 2014.

The Pacific Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

People from diverse backgrounds of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, income, age, disability, or sexual orientation are strongly encouraged to apply.

The World’s Water Volume 8 Keeps Water Challenges and Solutions Center Stage

Posted on:

Oakland, Calif., January 16, 2014: What do the controversy over fracking, desalination costs, and the growing Syrian civil war have in common? Water. Global freshwater supply affects a broad range of issues, including public health, food crises, and environmental catastrophes.

The just-released eighth edition of The World’s Water series, edited by Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute and the world’s foremost expert on freshwater, shows how water touches everything. It addresses a myriad of issues including water conflict, the water footprint, water governance, and more – and their effects on the economy and climate. In this highly regarded series, Gleick and his Pacific Institute colleagues have provided potential solutions to these problems as well as expert insights into freshwater issues, key water data, and more.

In The World’s Water Volume 8, foreword writer and former World Bank vice president Ismail Serageldin writes: “The World’s Water series [has] provided the most thoughtful, comprehensive, and interesting coverage of the available knowledge and the insights needed to deal with the myriad problems that water represents.”

Additional topics covered include:

– The business case for investing in sustainable water management;
– The emerging market for sustainable water jobs;
– Hydraulic fracturing and water resources;
– Cholera outbreaks directly caused by lack of access to safe water;
– “Zombie water projects,” or expensive infrastructure proposals that are killed off and brought back to life despite social, political, environmental, or economic flaws.

Like previous volumes, in addition to full chapters the book includes interesting Water Briefs, a complete table of contents and index that span all eight volumes of the series, and updated data tables regarding improved water and sanitation by country, renewable freshwater supply, water quality satisfaction, progress on Millennium Development Goals, and more.

Two chapters, two “Water Briefs,” and data tables from The World’s Water vol. 8 are available for free download at

Gleick and his coauthors combine abundant data, insightful analysis, and conviction that better education and awareness of water issues will lead to implementing smart and effective solutions. The World’s Water Volume 8, like its predecessors, is an invaluable resource for community leaders, health officials, academics, students, and others whose work touches on freshwater.

Peter H. Gleick is the president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif., and is a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship for his work on water issues.

The World’s Water is published by Island Press and can be ordered at:

The Pacific Institute is one of the world’s leading independent nonprofit research organizations working to create a healthier planet and sustainable communities. Based in Oakland, Calif., the Institute conducts interdisciplinary research and partners with stakeholders to produce solutions that advance environmental protection, economic development, and social equity – in California, nationally, and internationally.


Sign Up for Monthly Updates!