World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

Better business for a better Earth

At World Wildlife Fund, we believe deeply in the private sector’s ability to drive positive environmental change. WWF Sustainability Works is a forum for discussion around strategies, commitments, technologies and more that will help businesses achieve conservation goals that are good for the planet and their bottom lines. Follow WWF Sustainability Works on twitter at @WWFBetterBiz.

filtered by category: Freshwater

  • Date: 18 July 2024
  • Author: Jeff Opperman, Global Freshwater Lead Scientist

In season three of Brooklyn Nine Nine, the fictional police precinct at the center of this comedy series receives a new commanding officer, Captain Seth Dozerman. Glaring at his new team, Dozerman snarls, “My motto is simple: efficiency, efficiency, efficiency”—to which Sergeant Jake Peralta replies: “You could probably just say that once.”

This silly interaction evokes an important reality about how we manage water: while efficiency is important, excessive emphasis on it can be, well, not all that efficient.

Given all that you’ve heard about the world running out of fresh water, water-use efficiency must seem like the obvious answer to ensuring enough water for all. After all, growing food and manufacturing products must use some water…thus, doing so efficiently must be the key.

But faith that efficiency leads to sustainable water management is a myth that needs to be examined and revised into a much broader understanding of water – particularly when and where it’s used, alongside where it comes from and where it goes.

Let’s examine the myths swirling around efficiency.

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  • Date: 10 July 2024
  • Author: Julia Fiala

Did you know that the average roof collects 600 gallons of water for every inch of rain? Capturing some of that stormwater could play an important role in protecting our freshwater resources. Rain barrels are one simple first step that can set small business owners, schools, homeowners, and corporations down the path of freshwater conservation.

Due to reasons such as environmental degradation, prolonged drought, and the rising price of municipal water, rain barrels have grown in popularity over the past several years as one of the simplest and most effective methods of helping our planet. Rain barrels can not only help save money on municipal water bills but they can also reduce erosion and flooding caused by turbulent stormwater runoff.

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  • Date: 18 June 2024

In our daily lives, it can be easy to take water for granted. We turn on the tap to fill a pot for cooking, flush our toilets, take showers, and refill our water bottles, often with little thought of how precious water truly is. You may be surprised to learn that although more than 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, only 0.5% of that is actually available for use as freshwater. And freshwater isn’t just needed for drinking – it is an essential component of life for healthy ecosystems, wildlife habitats, agriculture, communities, and livelihoods.

Addressing the complex issue of water scarcity requires a multi-faceted approach. WWF’s strategy for water conservation focuses on several key areas including: conserving critical landscapes, transforming the systems that produce goods and commodities, supporting people and communities, and using scientific and technical expertise to effect positive change.

Implementing this strategy requires collaboration from many entities, from NGOs to governments and the business sector. That is why WWF is partnering with Finish to raise awareness about water scarcity issues. The focus of this partnership is on one of America’s most important and endangered rivers – the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo.

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  • Date: 11 April 2024

One of America’s most important and endangered rivers, the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo is home to more mammal species than Yellowstone National Park, more reptile species than the Sonoran Desert, more bird species than the Florida Everglades, and nearly 50% of all fish species found nowhere else in the world. This ecological treasure is teeming with biodiversity, but it is threatened by water scarcity – and without intervention, it may not be able to continue to support the millions of people and wildlife that rely on it.

That is why WWF is partnering with Finish to help protect and replenish the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo. Through this partnership, Finish is supporting WWF’s conservation work to help replenish the river alongside local organizations. Finish is also building awareness about the importance of water conservation by encouraging consumers to adopt simple, water-friendly habits in their homes, such as skipping the rinse when loading the dishwasher.

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  • Date: 15 February 2024
  • Author: Madalen Howard, WWF

Freshwater fish, often overlooked in conservation initiatives, are essential components of aquatic ecosystems. Despite their vital roles in maintaining biodiversity and supporting human livelihoods, they remain marginalized in the realm of conservation. This oversight is evident in the lack of representation of freshwater migratory species in protective measures.

Currently underway in Uzbekistan, the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) brings together nations, conservation organizations, and experts to address the pressing issues facing migratory species worldwide. One of the most significant highlights of this conference is the release of the inaugural authoritative report on the Status of the World’s Migratory Species, which paints a stark picture of the challenges migratory animals are facing.

Regrettably, its key findings are sobering:

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  • Date: 16 October 2023
  • Author: Michele Thieme, Deputy Director, Freshwater, WWF

Water is often assumed to be the world’s most abundant resource. While more than 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, only 0.5% of that is fresh and available for use. This finite resource and our freshwater security is in increasing peril. The global population has exploited our rivers, lakes, and aquifers creating a water crisis that is undermining human and planetary health. Now, billions of people lack access to safe water and sanitation, food insecurity is on the rise, and we are losing freshwater species at alarming rates. Why is this happening? Because we have failed to properly value the very water we rely on.

The High Cost of Cheap Water, a new report from the World Wildlife Fund addresses this issue head-on. Not only is water critical for community and species health, but water is also a necessity for industrial production of goods, their transportation, and the production of the energy needed to underpin the entire supply chain. There are no siloes when it comes to freshwater access and usage; every decision we make about water impacts another industry or community. When considering the total footprint that water has across our society, WWF estimates that the total global quantifiable economic use value of water in 2021 is approximately US$58 trillion, equivalent to the combined GDPs of the United States, China, Japan, Germany and India.

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  • Date: 18 September 2023
  • Author: Laura Phillips-Alvarez
Laura Phillips-Alvarez

Laura Phillips-Alvarez is an intern with the Media and External Affairs Department at WWF

I had a very D.C. childhood. And by that I mean, I grew up between Honduras, Uganda, Tajikistan, Nicaragua, Mozambique, and the U.S. (in that order). I never know what to respond when people ask me where I’m from, so I give a palatable answer that does not actually answer where I am from.

“My mom is from Guatemala and my dad is from Boston.”

“Cool!”

This mixed-identity crisis is common in third culture kids (TCK’s), a term coined in the 1950s for children who spend their formative years in a culture other than their parents.

Identity crisis aside, spending the first 13 years of my life in some of the countries that are the hardest hit by climate change (and the least responsible for it) instilled in me a great sense of urgency to live as sustainably as possible.

As Hispanic Heritage Month kicks-off, I wanted to reflect on some of the lessons in sustainable living that I adopted from my childhood across Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the U.S.

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  • Date: 21 June 2023
  • Author: Brian Richter, senior freshwater fellow at World Wildlife Fund

The iconic Rio Grande, or “Great River,” is at risk of losing its greatness. Water overuse and climate change have heavily depleted the once-mighty flow of the river, creating desperate conditions for the farming communities and natural ecosystems that depend on it. We can restore the Rio Grande to some semblance of its former glory, but doing so will require a transformational shift in the way political leaders, farmers and communities perceive the river, their culture, and their livelihoods.

Just how far has the mighty river fallen? Consider this: whereas the river once rose forcefully in springtime in response to melting snows in Colorado, its ‘spring pulse’ has now dwindled to less than a third of its former volume. As a result, water storage reservoirs essential to farming have dried up, leaving farmers without water to grow food and fiber. At the end of last year’s growing season, New Mexico’s largest reservoir, Elephant Butte Reservoir, was less than 10% full.

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  • Date: 01 June 2023
  • Author: Allen Townsend, Senior Program Officer, Freshwater Metrics, WWF

Last week, the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) launched its highly anticipated first release of science-based targets (SBTs) for nature. Keynoted by Nigel Topping, the High-Level Climate Action Champion for UNFCCC COP26, the launch webinar had over 3,000 registrants from across sectors, including governments, financial institutions, credit rating agencies, media, NGOs, and businesses. WWF has released blogs explaining the relevance of the Targets by Martha Stevenson and Craig Beatty over the past week.

The launch also marks a milestone moment toward addressing the freshwater emergency at scale. Business runs on clean and abundant water. Therefore, companies and their suppliers are a critical part of the solution, and setting meaningful targets is an important step. As part of the initial release, the first version of the freshwater technical guidance reflects decades of science and efforts by the water stewardship community and WWF to promote collective action for restoring freshwater ecosystems and protecting human water security.

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  • Date: 24 May 2023
  • Author: Martha Stevenson, Senior Director of Strategy and Research

Today, the Science Based Targets Network released its first version of nature targets. This is a significant step in uniting the world’s leading companies to stabilize the climate, preserve freshwater resources, regenerate land, secure healthy oceans, and support biodiversity.

We know that business as usual can’t continue. We are exceeding planetary boundaries – the points of no return for nature, climate, and humanity as we know them. You only need to turn to the news to see the devastating effects: wildfires in the boreal, droughts in eastern Brazil, and the empty forests of the Congo, once teeming with biodiversity. These harbingers of what’s to come reflect an ecological system out of balance.

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