This Week In Water: Nestle, General Mills Sign On To International Water Standard

Two annual meetings take place this week and Ecosystem Marketplace will be on hand to cover them both.  Meanwhile, EM’s 2014 water survey wrapped up last week and water cooperation received a boost with Nestle and General Mills signing on to the International Water Stewardship Standard. 

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


4 May 2014 | Greetings! First things first: this is the final week of our 2014 Water Survey. We’re updating our global inventory of innovative projects investing in watershed protection. If you haven’t submitted project information yet, please get in touch with us.  

Next week, we’ll be at the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s annual sustainability forum. This year’s theme is energy and water in business operations and supply chains; we’ll be chairing a session on barriers and risks to catalyzing business investment in natural infrastructure. It’s a great opportunity to connect with sustainability thought leaders in the private sector and dig into ‘nature and the nexus’. Join us!

Our team will also be covering the National Mitigation and Ecosystem Banking Conference in Denver May 6th-9th. Follow us on Twitter and check our home page for coverage starting next Monday.

Preparing the ‘State of Watershed Payments‘ report is always a big undertaking, but this year’s version has really brought into focus how big and diverse the watershed investments world is becoming. We’ve come a long way in a short time from payments for watershed services: every year we find new models for protecting natural infrastructure, new actors, and new motivations.

The news this month reflects that depth and variety. On one hand, we find business-friendly new tools for companies to manage their water risk, with improvements to the Water Risk Filter and a new batch of Water Restoration Certificates sold to protect the Colorado River Basin in US. Meanwhile, watershed investments look very different in Kenya, where a new water fund recently launched in Nairobi, or in Bolivia, where a ‘School of Reciprocal Environmental Agreements‘ trains water service providers in working with upstream communities on conservation projects to safeguard water supplies.

What do these stories have in common? The recognition of natural infrastructure values, and effective partnerships between water users to protect those values. The recent announcement that Nestlé and General Mills have signed on to the International Water Stewardship Standard suggests that the worlds of corporate water sustainability and local watershed investments are starting to collide, which is a good thing. The Water Stewardship Standard offers a framework for businesses and other major water users to go “beyond the fence,” managing water risk through collective action in both the watershed and the supply chain.

Happy reading,

— The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

For questions or comments, please contact [email protected]

EM Headlines


Uniting People And Ecosystem Resilience For Food Security In Latin America on Earth Day

One aim of April’s Katoomba Meeting in Lima was to complement year-end climate talks in Peru, by focusing on how climate policy fits into the larger “landscape approach” that incorporates people, farming, forests, and water. Our global food systems, resource management policies, and even our ecosystem services markets too often focus on only narrow objectives, ignoring both ecosystem links and the realities of rural economies.

Over the past two and a half years, EcoAgriculture Partners has examined more than 100 integrated landscape initiatives (ILI’s) across the continent, together with partners CATIE, Bioversity International, Conservation International and the University of Idaho. They found a surprising degree of community engagement and collaboration among stakeholders from agriculture, health, biodiversity, water to protect and restore their landscapes from threats of degradation and climate change.

Read more here.


Peruvian Ecosystem Services Law In Limbo

It’s not easy for any country to protect its natural areas from exploitation, but Peru is making a solid attempt to preserve its forests, which store massive amounts of carbon and provide habitat to thousands of rare and endangered species – delivering in the process benefits that accrue to the world at large and not only to Peru.

The country’s legislators have drafted one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation for governing Payments for Ecosystem Services, but the Ley de Mecanismos de Retribucií³n por Servicios Ecosistémicos has been perpetually on the brink of passing since it was introduced in 2008.

In December, a key congressional commission gave the bill a thumbs-up; in February, the Ministry of Environment (Ministerio del Ambiente, or “MINAM”) launched a consultation initiative with indigenous people; and last week, the bill was slated to be formally debated for the first time before the entire National Congress. That debate, however, never took place, and now the bill is back on ice.

Learn more at Ecosystem Marketplace.
Read the article in its original Spanish at our sister site, Valorando Naturaleza.


Buying Hope And Time For Coral Reef

“The need was evident because I was diving all the time, going out to the same spots – and you get there, and the coral had died,” explains Ken Nedimyer, the former fisherman who initiated coral nursery-based restoration in the Florida Keys. Coral reefs, which provide habitat for over twenty-five percent of marine species, are dying worldwide, especially in tropical waters, from combined climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing, disease, and pollution stresses. In 2001, Nedimyer began to gather staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis ) and elkhorn coral (Acropora palmater) from degraded reefs for his ad-hoc nursery in Tavernier Key.

Between now and August, Ecosystem Marketplace will be examining the economic benefits of coral reefs and financing mechanisms designed to help preserve them. Here’s a look at the other side of that equation: what it costs to maintain them, and the challenge of meeting that cost through conventional means.

Keep reading.


In The News


Funding for Climate Adaptation must be Scaled Up and Fast, IPCC warns

The most recent installment of the IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) report finds a serious shortfall in adaptation investments, despite climate change impacts already being felt around the world.

As the data on climate change grows more abundant and clear, the more the IPCC reports are able to discuss ramifications and impacts – and that’s leading to some worrying findings. Developing countries with more vulnerable communities will feel the harshest effects of a changing climate. The costs of global adaptation are substantially higher than current funding and investments, the report says, although the specific amount is disagreed on among IPCC authors. With little confidence in the numbers, the IPCC places global adaptation costs between $70 billion to $100 billion by 2050. It’s expected that food production will be hit hard by climate change in the near future and food security will suffer.

Developed countries have made pledges – over $100 billion a year for adaptation and mitigation by 2020 – with the international facilitator, the Green Climate Fund, opening its new headquarters this year in South Korea. But the process has been slow and the IPCC warns of climate extremes affecting food production. Early-warning systems need to be in place, the report says, but these are expensive and require infrastructure and capital investment. A policy worker from an anti-poverty network says the IPCC report “is a wake-up call for governments to invest in agricultural systems that are effective and sustainable far into the future.”

Keep reading at the Inter Press Service.


More Water Woes for China

When most people think about China’s environmental problems, they think of the carbon pollution blanketing Beijing and other cities. But due to a recent incident where the city of Lanzhou’s water supply was contaminated by a benzene spill, the country’s water troubles have been brought to the fore. China’s northern region is water scarce and heavily populated. 70% of the groundwater there has become unfit to drink or use for farming due to pollution.

China continues to struggle with transparency in its government: the Ministry of Environmental Protection is weak and a tough new environmental law is tied up in revisions. Meanwhile, officials don’t feel comfortable involving ordinary citizens in the issue, though their support would carry a good deal of momentum. The national government is taking some action – encouraging more efficient farming and holding local officials responsible for environmental degradation – but at this point China should be pulling out all the stops to get their water crisis under control.

Read more at Bloomberg.


All on Board for Murray-Darling Basin Plan, But Off to Shaky Start

It was an encouraging point for many when Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) joined the other Australian states (Victoria, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory) participating in the inter-governmental Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Since the water purchases began, some 3,175 gigalitres (GL) has been returned to the river – another encouraging sign – and the environment has benefited. But challenges and uncertainties remain.

The states’ priorities appear to be different despite the collective framework of the plan that is meant to benefit the basin and its communities equally. Cost-shifting appears to be happening – NSW and South Australia (SA) scaled back water management activities even though they are both part owners. Water projects initiated by the states have yet to deliver. NSW’s water meter project, for instance, was created six years ago and has produced few tangible results. In SA, instead of purchasing water directly for the environment, its capital city of Adelaide spent loads of money on enlarging their desalination plant – an energy intensive and expensive infrastructure investment. And Queensland and NSW haven’t met their water objectives to receive this year’s funding but reached an agreement with the national government and will be receiving it in full regardless.

And while it’s a concern that the states haven’t reached their milestones, the plan’s overall quota of reducing 2750 GL of water for consumption is also at risk. The federal government limited direct purchases to 1500 GL. This puts more pressure on other measures to reach the target.

Learn more at The Conversation.


‘Water for Energy’ Attempt Goes Bad in India

This month, Circle of Blue launched the latest iteration of its Choke Point series, focusing on India. The ‘Choke Point’ project is a partnership with the Wilson Center, exploring the conflicting demands for water, energy and food in different regions of the world. The newest installment focuses on India’s rapid attempt to bring hydropower to the waters of the wild and unpredictable Himalayan mountains, in Uttarakhand state. It’s turned into a disaster when monstrous floods last June killed at least 6,000 people (and as many as 30,000, according to locals) and destroyed much of the area’s infrastructure including several of the massive dams themselves. Two months later, India’s Supreme Court shut down any future permits for hydropower development in Uttarakhand and directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests to undertake a study of the risks and merits of continuing to build dams in the region.

Read more at Circle of Blue.



Nestlé, General Mills Sign On To International Water Stewardship Standard

Major companies including Nestlé and General Mills put their weight behind the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS)’s new international standard for sustainable water management. The standard, launched by AWS in early April, provides a framework for water stewardship not only ‘within the walls’ of an operation, but on the surrounding landscape and along the supply chain, with a strong emphasis on partnerships and collective action.

“Nestlé supports the efforts of AWS to promote water stewardship internationally and assist companies to manage water-related risk at a site and catchment level,” Carlo Galli, Water Resources, Technical & Strategic Advisor to Nestlé said in a press release. “The AWS Standard will enable companies to better assess their performance against a defined set of principles, identify opportunities for improvement and take collaborative steps to improve their water use.” The AWS counts as members nearly thirty organizations in the business, NGO and philanthropic world.

Read a press release at MarketWatch.


Report sees Trend in Water Risk Awareness among Businesses

Water has long been taken for granted and wasn’t likely a big cause for concern for companies a decade ago. But it is today. According to a report by environmental research group the Pacific Institute and public affairs firm Vox Global, 60 percent of companies surveyed said water issues would affect both business growth and profitability in the next five years.

While the report’s conclusion can’t be considered a national average, because only 51 companies were surveyed, the findings reflect a growing trend toward water awareness. “I think water is becoming the next big issue,” John Schulz, assistant vice-president of sustainability operations at the telecommunications corporation AT&T, tells the Financial Times. “There is a rising awareness from a business risk perspective that if we don’t start getting control of this, it could become a real business-impacting issue.”

Many companies have started to monitor their water use and make cuts: the report documents actions by companies like AT&T and Hershey making technology upgrades that have saved both water and money. “Historically many companies have thought of water as a low-cost input and looked at it mostly within the context of their direct operations,” said co-author Jason Morrison. “Now companies are increasingly thinking about water more broadly.”

The Financial Times has coverage.
Get a copy of the study here.


Water Risk Filter Bigger and Better with Agricultural Data

Two years after its initial release, the already popular and widely used Water Risk Filter tool received an upgrade. The free online tool that quantifies water risk for businesses using a simple but effective method now includes agricultural data on over 120 commodities-including cotton and corn. The tool, developed by the German development bank DEG and environmental nonprofit WWF, measures water risk using sectoral and regionally-specific information as well as offering interactive maps and case studies. It provides a risk score for companies based on exposure to different risks along, with a mitigation toolbox to help manage the discovered threats. The tool has assessed more than 50,000 individual facilities with over 1,500 organizations using the tool, including well-known clothing retailer H&M. The Water Risk Filter’s recent addition of agricultural information makes the tool all the more useful.

Get the full story.


The Water Fund Moves to Africa

A public-private consortium is bringing the water fund, the watershed investment model so popular in Latin America, to Kenya with the Nairobi Water Fund. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is working with eighteen organizations including Coca Cola and the national Water Resources Management Authority to launch the project. TNC has already completed a feasibility study and implemented pilot projects in three watersheds. Within the next five years, TNC plans to develop the Nairobi Water Fund into a replicable tool. The water fund model commissions big downstream water users to pay into a conservation fund that finances sustainable land management practices like tree-planting and terracing upstream lands. In return, downstream users receive a reliable source of water and lower treatment costs.

Keep reading.


Community sees Value in Paying for Ecosystem Services

The environmental benefits derived from a payments for ecosystem services (PES) project outweigh the costs. That was the basic findings drawn from a PES project in the Chaina watershed of the eastern Colombian Andes, where wealthier landowners and farmers agreed to pay higher rates to improve and protect their water supply. In fact, affluent residents were willing to pay an even higher price than farmers felt reasonable.

This led one researcher – Sven Wunder of CIFOR (Center for International Forestry Research) – to consider having different residents pay different rates. In the program, which was supported by CIFOR, water users aiming to improve their water supply and its quality negotiated with landowners upstream within the Chaina watershed. They struck PES deals with several landowners, along with also buying land outright. Landowners participating in PES schemes were compensated for their conservation practices, including halting deforestation and limiting cattle ranching on steep slopes. This replicable program has helped preserve 162 hectares of natural forest along with the regeneration of fourteen hectares of streamside vegetation.

Challenges certainly remain, however. For one, more funds are needed to expand the program and improve efficiency but many are unwilling to pay for something they’re used to receiving free. “Water used to be clean and plentiful, but with a larger population and more economic activity, there’s less of it available, and sometimes people get angry,” Wunder said. “Scarcity of an environmental service is something new, and people need to become mentally accustomed to the idea, before they might do something about it.”

Get coverage from the Thomson-Reuters Foundation.


In Bolivia, School of Reciprocal Environmental Agreements Graduates its First Class

Fundacií³n Natura Bolivia (FNB) this spring wrapped up its first training program through its School of Reciprocal Environmental Agreements. In partnership with the Avina Foundation and Care International, FNB builds capacity among small and medium-scale water service providers. Three water cooperatives have already committed to replicating the trainings within their own municipalities. The School also hosted a program in December 2013 for international participants interested in its ‘reciprocal watershed agreements’ model, which safeguards municipal water supplies through financial support to upstream communities engaged in conservation work.

Read more at the FNB site.


Ted’s Montana Grill and WhiteWave Foods Help the Colorado Through Water Restoration Certificates

Restaurant chain Ted’s Montana Grill and WhiteWave Foods announced new efforts in late April to support instream flow restoration in the Colorado River Basin, via the purchase of Water Restoration Certificates (WRCs). The certificates, developed by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation working with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, each represent a thousand gallons restored to river systems through funding restoration projects and the retirement of water rights. More than 7.6 billion gallons have been returned since 2009 through WRCs. Ted’s Montana Grill and WhiteWave Foods are pooling resources to support river health in three Colorado River tributaries: the Cimarron, Fraser and Roaring Fork Rivers.

Learn more at CSR Wire.



Accelerating Sustainability: Energy and Water in Your Operations and Supply Chains

You slashed your water consumption. You shrank your energy bill. You improved efficiencies in your supply chain. Now what? It’s time to put sustainability to work for your business. Join us on May 6 to learn innovative sustainability strategies that can enhance your brand, cut cost, and grow revenue faster and at greater scale. At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Accelerating Sustainability Forum, in partnership with the US Business Council for Sustainable Development, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and SustainAbility, we will bring together some of the greatest minds and proven practitioners from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to explore two approaches — enhanced, scaled collaboration and sustainability-driven innovation. These concepts are redefining what businesses can achieve around energy and water use that delivers shared value for your business, society, and the environment. Through visionary speakers, action-oriented sessions, and ample networking opportunities, you will work with other sustainability leaders to refine the partnerships, tools, and techniques you need to create the energy and water solutions to accelerate transformative change. 6 May 2014. Washington DC, 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 CO, USA.

Learn more here.


Business & Ecosystems Training

Join the the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) on May 7 for their Business Ecosystems Training. Hosted at the Chamber of Commerce, this one-day training provides businesses with state-of-the-art information and tools for integrating natural capital into your business decisions. Understand how to minimize the risks and capture the opportunities for your company related to water, GHG, and natural systems. 7 May 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.


Webinar: An overview of water/energy issues from national and federal perspectives

Dr. Craig Zamuda from the Department of Energy (DOE) will present key findings from DOE’s upcoming water/energy nexus report, and highlight some of the key challenges and opportunities described in the report that provide a foundation for future energy-water technology and modeling research, development, and deployment efforts. Dr. Kristen Averyt, Associate Director for Science for the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and Director of the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado, will present her research regarding water-energy challenges that exist currently and are on the horizon. 8 May 2014 at 2:00 pm EST. Online.

Register here.


3rd Symposium on Urbanization and Stream Ecology

The Symposium on Urbanization and Stream Ecology is a meeting of stream ecologists held approximately every five years aiming to further the scientific study of stream ecosystems in urban landscapes. In 2014, the third symposium will be held in Portland in the days preceding the joint meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) and the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). The theme of SUSE3 will be mechanisms: both in the broad sense of landscape-scale drivers of ecological change and in the detailed sense of small-scale drivers of in-stream biotic response. At the broad scale, the symposium aims to further our understanding of variation in dominant mechanisms in different regions of the globe. 15-17 May 2014. Portland OR, USA.

Learn more here.


Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference 2014

The emphasis of this Seventh international ESP conference will be on the use of the ecosystem services concept at the local level, focusing on Latin America with a special emphasis on Costa Rica. Scientists representing several EU-funded projects will present their results on Community Based Ecosystem Management. Don’t miss your chance to interact and exchange ideas with the rapidly growing network of ESP members, practitioners, educators, policy-makers, researchers, and many others from all continents. Be part of special sessions and working-groups producing outcomes ranging from journal articles, white papers, book chapters, grant proposals, database structures, websites, and much more. The call for abstracts for oral presentations is open until May 11, 2014. The deadline for the submission of abstracts for posters is June 15th and July 6th. 8-12 September 2014. San Jose, Costa Rica.

Learn more here.


ACES 2014 Conference: Linking Science, Practice, and Decision Making

ACES: A Community on Ecosystem Services represents a dynamic and growing assembly of professionals, researchers, and policy makers involved with ecosystem services. The ACES 2014 Conference brings together this community in partnership with Ecosystem Markets and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP), providing an open forum to share experiences, methods, and tools, for assessing and incorporating ecosystem services into public and private decisions. The focus of the conference is to link science, practice, and sustainable decision making by bringing together the ecosystem services community from around the United States and the globe. ACES 2014 will bring together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, Native American communities, and the private sector to advance the use of ecosystem services science and practice in conservation, restoration, resource management, and development decisions. We hope you will make plans to join more than 500 ecosystem service stakeholders in this collaborative discussion to advance use of an ecosystem services framework for natural resource management and policy. Deadline for proposals for many session formats is March 31st! 8-11 December 2014. Washington DC, USA.

Learn more here.




Forest Carbon Research Assistant: Spring/Summer 2014

Ecosystem Marketplace – Washington DC, USA

Ecosystem Marketplace is seeking a full-time research assistant focusing on the forestry sector for our Carbon Program. The hourly role and work will span an initial 3-month period, with potential for extension for an additional three months. Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Program produces a range of qualitative and quantitative analyses of the voluntary and forest carbon markets, as well as a suite of other mechanisms for financing forest conservation. Our products include original news articles, annual marketplace reports, periodic topical reports, news briefs, a resource library and tracking carbon offset projects. Additional activities occasionally include providing specialized market and policy consultative services, leading in-person and remote educational lectures and hosting regional to international events. The Carbon Program research assistant will be able to commit to 35-40 hours per week to support the range of activities under the Ecosystem Marketplace Carbon Markets Program.

Learn more here.


Ecosystem Marketplace is a project of Forest Trends a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)(3).The non-profit evaluator Charity Navigator has given Forest Trends its highest rating (4 out of 4 stars) recognizing excellence in our financial management and organizational efficiency.


Click here to view this article in its original format.

Please see our Reprint Guidelines for details on republishing our articles.