This Week In Water: Business Overlooking Supply Chain, Watershed Risk

The Carbon Disclosure Project’s Global Water Report 2013 reports more disclosure from companies than ever but also warns businesses are still not accounting for risks at the watershed level.  Meanwhile the Ecosystem Marketplace water team is putting together a briefing for business on watershed investments.

The Carbon Disclosure Project’s Global Water Report 2013 reports more disclosure from companies than ever but also warns businesses are still not accounting for risks at the watershed level. Meanwhile the Ecosystem Marketplace water team is putting together a briefing for business on watershed investments.

This article was originally published in the Water Log newsletter. Click here to read the original.

24 November 2013 | Greetings! We’re in the home stretch of the Skoll Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurs Challenge – just two days to go! Right now, if you donate $30 or more, Skoll will match it. We’re asking you to consider contributing: any funds that the Ecosystem Marketplace team raises through the Skoll Challenge will be dedicated to special projects, like in-depth reporting on the stories that matter to you.

If you’ve been thinking about supporting us, now is a great time to do so. Click here to help out – remember, right now, your donations are leveraged. (And as a 501(c)(3), contributions to us are tax-deductible.)

We’re also excited about a new special briefing for business on watershed investments that we’ve been working on, to be released very soon. It’s a deep dive into our data, benchmarking companies that are looking “beyond the fence” and their direct operations, to manage risk at a watershed scale. Stay tuned.

The Carbon Disclosure Project is also thinking at a landscape level: their new Global Water Report 2013 warns that most businesses still aren’t using a “water stewardship” lens. Some of CDP’s findings are encouraging: more businesses than ever disclosed for the report this year, and awareness of water risk exposure continues to grow. But action remains largely constrained to direct operations and a focus on efficiency: just three percent of companies are addressing risk at the watershed level, and only four percent within the supply chain.

Other news this month is more positive, including a nutrient mitigation bank and a water fund opening their doors (metaphorically speaking) in the United States, new economic analysis on green-grey infrastructure blends to protect against coastal storms, and local actors calling for greater inclusion in the EU’s nascent green infrastructure strategy.

Keep up the good work,

— The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

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EM Headlines

Forest, Ag Projects Can Combine Adaptation And Mitigation: CIFOR Study

Tree planting in Uganda. Mangrove restorations along the coast of Indonesia and Vietnam. REDD in the Congo Basin and Indonesia. Proponents of projects like these have long argued that they can address both adaptation and mitigation. Now they have the data to back it up, thanks to a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).


CIFOR decided to examine the growing interest in how adaptation and mitigation issues can be addressed in combination and look for win-win options, while also investigating concerns about the feasibility of this approach and the possible drawbacks, Bruno Locatelli, a scientist with CIRAD (Agricultural Research and Development)-CIFOR and lead author of this study, said at a side event at the COP19 UN climate negotiations in Warsaw last week.

Get the full story from Ecosystem Marketplace.

Case Studies: Developing Watershed Investments in Peru

A new series of case studies details the Peru Ecosystem Services Incubator’s progress in developing investments in watershed services (IWS) projects. The Incubator, a project led by the Ministry of Environment of Peru with Forest Trends as a partner, aims to enhance investments in nature by society through providing technical, financial, and economic expertise; building capacity; and contributing to the development of national policy. It’s identified IWS as its first focus, and is supporting projects in the Jequetepeque, Rimac, Alto Mayo, and Caí±ete watersheds. The case studies offer updates on work so far, and a glimpse into the diverse contexts, challenges, and financing solutions advanced in each catchment.

Read the case studies here.

Why and How to Invest in Forested Landscapes

The United States faces an infrastructure crisis that will only get worse as climate change takes hold. Last month, the World Resources Institute, together with Earth Economics and the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, published a detailed examination of the science, the finance, and the business case for meeting the challenge with new investments in forests and green infrastructure.

The guide is intended to be a foothold for those who can champion natural infrastructure in water utilities, local conservation groups, and private businesses, and who need a persuasive case, a road map of next steps, and overarching guidance to do so. It attempts to provide the resources, science and economics, illustrations, and guidance needed to foster meaningful dialogue with watershed decision makers and stakeholders around natural infrastructure options, to secure adoption and commitment, and to begin early design and implementation steps on solid footing.

Learn more.

Communicating Marine Ecosystem Services Values: An “Office Hour” Highlights Reel

Linwood Pendleton, the Director of Ocean and Coastal Policy at Duke University and manager of the Marine Ecosystem Services Partnership, recently answered questions on marine and coastal ecosystem services during an interactive ‘Office Hour’ online chat. Pendleton offered his insights into the science, the politics, and the economics of developing results-based financing for oceans. Conversation was wide-ranging and touched on whether valuation is always the right strategy, tools and models, and just why marine ecosystem services are so tough to protect. If you missed the chat, Ecosystem Marketplace has coverage of highlights.

Get a summary of the chat here.

In The News


Greens Versus Greys

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, evacuated residents of Cape May, NJ returned home to find that neighborhoods near a wetland preserve showed little damage – a stark contrast to devastation elsewhere on the New Jersey coastline. Experiences like that have driven a surge of support for green infrastructure among city officials, planners, and environmental groups.


But don’t count everyone a supporter: a debate between the pro-green infrastructure camp and engineers is far from settled, according to a new post over at Grist. “The Nature Conservancy people believe that wetlands are the answer to everything,” says Douglas Hill, a retired consulting engineer and lecturer at Stonybrook University. “But a storm surge is not a big wave. It’s a sudden rise in the tide. It’s like saying that wetlands can hold back the tide. It’s just not the case.” On the other side, Nicholas K. Coch, a professor of coastal geology at Queens College, has some choice words for engineers who want to build huge storm surge gates to protect New York City. “I call it our good neighbor policy,” says Coch. “We close those gates and we wipe out New Jersey, Coney Island, and the Rockaways.”


A new study from The Nature Conservancy and CH2M Hill takes the middle ground: examining storm-defense scenarios for the Howard Beach neighborhood in Queens, both environmentalists and engineers concluded that a mix of green and grey is the most cost-effective solution. It’s the first full analysis of green-grey blends to date.

Learn more about the TNC/CH2M Hill study here.

Locals, NGOs Want Their Say in EU Green Infrastructure Strategy

Local government and civil society want to be more involved in the European Commission’s plans to scale up green infrastructure across the EU, judging from recent remarks at a conference on green infrastructure in Brussels earlier this month. “Local and regional authorities are fully behind the proposals but local actors must be supported to enable them to integrate [green infrastructure] plans into planning procedures and development programs locally,” explained Annabelle Jaeger (FR/PES), Committee of the Regions (CoR) rapporteur on Green Infrastructure and member of the Provence-Alpes-Cí´te d’Azur Regional Council, in her opening address. Other key issues include early engagement with civil society stakeholders and financing: a proposed EU green infrastructure financing facility is well-received, but CoR has also suggested redirecting some percentage of traditional ‘grey’ infrastructure investment into a biodiversity fund dedicated to green infrastructure.

Learn more here.

Levee Board Suit Against Oil & Gas Gets No Love From the Governor

Oof. Water Loggers may recall that this summer, the Board of Commissioners of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East, a public entity responsible for governing the levee districts of Orleans, sued 97 oil and gas companies for damages caused by degraded coastal lands. The authority’s position is that Louisiana wetlands are subject to more frequent and severe storms and rising sea levels than in the past, and that the oil and gas companies have a duty under their permits to remedy the damage done to the state’s extremely fragile wetlands.

It would appear that Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is not on team Levee Board. In the last month, he’s sacked the levee commissioners who voted for the lawsuit, cut all funding to the levee authority, and appointed a new member to the board who’s pushing to suspend the lawsuit.

Get background on the lawsuit from Ecosystem Marketplace.

‘Rooftops to Rivers 2013’ Finds Uneven Progress

An update to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC’s) Rooftops to Rivers II report takes a look at how twenty cities profiled in 2011 have made progress recently on using green infrastructure to manage stormwater. The report finds signs of improvement: three cities even picked up a few points on NRDC’s “Emerald City” rating system. But municipal performance hasn’t been matched by federal support, the authors say. The US Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly missed deadlines for new stormwater rules, and updated guidance on green infrastructure approaches is still sorely needed.

Download the report (pdf).

Climate Resilience and the Downside of Dams

Proposed dams and other infrastructure projects rarely consider ecological resilience in their evaluation. But as John Matthews of Conservation International has written, “Ecologically poorly designed water infrastructure is likely to reduce the inherent resilience and adaptive capacity of [developing] nations’ ecosystems, permanently altering lakes, rivers, soils, and fisheries. Climate-infrastructure mismatches may actually make poor nations even poorer.” Matthews is an advisor on a new report from International Rivers taking aim at this problem. “Healthy rivers are critical for helping vulnerable communities adapt to a changing climate,” write the authors. “Protecting them now is a community’s health insurance policy for the future.”

Get commentary at the Huffington Post.
Read the report here.


CDP Calls for Water Stewardship, Not Just Efficiency

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)’s latest effort in the water space, CDP Global Water Report 2013 is out. CDP asked hundreds of major companies to disclose on their water use, impacts, and management strategy. The good news? Business awareness of water risk has grown exponentially in recent years, with reporting rates more than tripling since the first report four years ago. Two-thirds of respondents say they’re exposed to water-related detrimental impacts in the next five years – not in itself a good thing, but a sign that business is paying attention. The bad news is that too many are still focusing on cutting use at the level of direct operations. CDP calls for a step change in private sector action on water, towards a ‘water stewardship’ approach that better engages other stakeholders and manages risk at the level of the watershed and supply chain too.

Get coverage from the Guardian.
Read the report (pdf).

Wetland Bankers EBX Dip Their Toes in the Water Quality Markets

Wetland and conservation banking firm EBX has gotten into the nutrient trading game. EBX recently announced it’s adding a Virginia nutrient mitigation bank to its 41-bank portfolio. The Elk Run Nutrient Bank will restore converted cropland to forest on a 708-acre farm in Fauquier County to generate an estimated 1479.83 lbs of nitrogen and 110 lbs of phosphorus credits. The bank will serve the Potomac River Basin market, which is driven by the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load pollution cap.

Read a press release.

Drought Mitigation Project Brings The Water Back to Pakistani Farmers

Rainfall in the Chakwal district of Pakistan, some 56 miles southeast of Islamabad, has fallen by as much as 50% in the last decade, according to villagers living there. Many have found it impossible to survive on rain-fed agriculture and left the land for nearby urban areas. But a reservoir and mini-dam to capture rainwater and recharge aquifers may be turning things around. “Many farming families which had migrated to nearby urban areas in search of an alternative livelihood are returning to the area because of the dam,” said Aslam Bibi, a villager. The dam is part of a larger ‘Drought Mitigation and Preparedness Project’ supporting local farmers by building rainwater harvesting ponds, mini and check dams, wells, and pipelines in the area. Communities themselves have helped pay for about 20% of the initiative (or $134,000), with the remainder ($543,000) coming from the World Bank.

Thomson-Reuters covers the story.

Water Fund Announced in North Carolina’s Cape Fear Basin

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) launched a new water fund in North Carolina earlier this month. Water funds channel contributions from multiple water users in a basin into a dedicated fund, which invests in restoration projects across the landscape. TNC has been involved in the development of more than twenty similar water funds in Latin American countries already. The fund in North Carolina’s Lower Cape Fear River Basin will initially focus on limiting stormwater runoff to control algal blooms in the river. TNC is currently carrying out a scientific study of the basin to inform investment decisions, and engaging with utilities and soil & water conservation districts in the area.

Keep reading at the Star News Online.

Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Warning on Water Risk

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund says it’s concerned about water risk exposure in the companies in which it invests. Norway’s $808 billion fund, Norges Bank Investment Management, said in a statement that its long term returns may be impacted both via company-specific risk and systemic risk. NBIM is a lead sponsor of CDP’s Water Program. It has investments in about 7,500 companies in the food & beverage, oil, gas, and chemicals sectors, all of which face significant operational and supply chain water risk.

Read NBIM’s statement here.

Understanding Water’s Value in the US Economy

“Energy production, food production and water supply account for 94 percent of withdrawal from the nation’s groundwater, streams, rivers and lakes,” wrote US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acting Assistant Administrator Nancy Stoner in a blog post in early November. “All parts of the economy are directly or indirectly dependent on energy, food and water supply, so changes in one part of the energy-food-water nexus can impact the others and have a ripple effect through the whole economy.” Her post draws on a recent synthesis report from the EPA on the value of water to the US economy. Yet as the report itself admits, “Reliable information on the economic importance of water is, in many ways, elusive.” Water is clearly valuable – and currently undervalued – but precise dollar figures are elusive. That fuzziness means that management is probably not as efficient as it could be. The report also highlights the US economy’s sensitivity to water supply shocks, especially within the water-energy-food nexus.

Access the report here.

New Belgium Pledges $10k to Footprint Initiative

Fort Collins, CO-based brewery New Belgium Brewing has put up $10,000 to support a water footprinting initiative. The Net Zero Water Planning Template, developed by the Colorado Water Innovation Cluster, will help guide businesses in assessing and managing their water footprints. New Belgium apparently made the pledge on the spot at the Net Zero Cities conference during a conference session.

Keep reading.



Environmental Leadership Program

Kinship Conservation Fellows – Bellingham WA, USA

Kinship Conservation Fellows is a ground-breaking environmental leadership program that emphasizes market-based solutions to environmental problems. Kinship’s dynamic global network of 191 Fellows in 47 countries and 6 continents is collaborative, entrepreneurial, and dedicated to effective conservation. Applications for the 2014 Program will be open until January 27, 2014.

Learn more here.

Sustainable Procurement Project Officer

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability – Baden-Wurttenmberg, Germany

The Project Officer will have the following tasks and responsibilities:


  • Coordinate small or medium sized projects on sustainable procurement.
  • Responsible for work planning, finances and personnel management related to small or medium sized projects.
  • Develop guidance on the topic of sustainable procurement.
  • Support public authorities in developing and implementing sustainable procurement practices, policies and strategies.
  • Develop knowledge and collaborate with external organisations on the topic of financing sustainable infrastructure projects, products and services.
  • Evaluate the potential for developing partnerships and joint working with a variety of organisations including businesses.
  • Provide training and consultancy services on sustainable procurement.
  • Undertake research, develop case studies and disseminate information to improve knowledge and skills on sustainable procurement.
  • Organise events (e.g. meetings, workshops and training seminars and conferences).
  • Research funding opportunities and undertake project acquisition work.
  • Represent the Sustainable Procurement team at events and undertake presentations as necessary.


Learn more here.


World Forum on Natural Capital

The inaugural World Forum on Natural Capital will be the first major global conference devoted exclusively to turning the debate on natural capital accounting into action. It will build on the enormous private sector interest shown at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio in June 2012 and the many developments that have taken place since. The World Forum on Natural Capital will bring together world-class speakers, cutting edge case studies and senior decision makers from different sectors, in order to turn the debate into practical action. Lively plenaries and interactive breakout sessions in four conference streams will explore the risks and opportunities for business, allow access to the very latest developments and provide an opportunity to help shape the debate through dialogue between policymakers, business leaders and prominent experts in the field. 21-22 November 2013. Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Learn more here.

2014 UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference

The UN-Water Annual Zaragoza Conferences serve UN-Water to prepare for World Water Day. This conference is part of the road map for World Water Day 2014 focused on the nexus of water and energy. A focused dialogue would already be initiated with the UN-Water seminar on the same topic during World Water Week in Stockholm. Water and energy (W&E) are closely interlinked and interdependent. W&E inter-linkages have an important role in the post-2015 development agenda and the conceptualization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are indeed some main challenges, interconnections and opportunities for realizing synergies and benefits from joint responses on the water and energy nexus, including for the design of climate resilience and green economies. Partnerships amongst institutions, agencies and stakeholders can help in achieving some of these benefits. 13-16 January 2014. Zaragoza, Spain.

Learn more here.

Sustainable Water Management Conference

Presenting solutions for balancing the benefits of conservation with the costs, managing infrastructure, developing robust supply models and watershed management plans, water reuse, resource management, green infrastructure and more. 30 March – 2 April 2014. Denver CO, USA.

Learn more here.

2014 National Mitigation & Ecosystem Banking Conference

The only national conference that brings together key players in this industry, and offers quality hands-on training and education sessions and important regulatory updates. Learn from & network with the 400+ attendees the conference draws, offering perspectives from bankers, regulators, and users. 6-9 May 2014. Denver, Colorado.

Learn more here.


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