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: 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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  • Date: 22 March 2023
  • Author: Tim Rice and Natalie Shahbol

The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all UN member states in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth—all while tackling climate change and working to preserve nature.

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  • Date: 20 March 2023
  • Author: Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice President, Private Sector Engagement

It’s not a shocking revelation to say that water is the lifeblood of business. We know that every industry—indeed every company, organization, and person on Earth—needs clean and ample freshwater to survive. It’s such an obvious fact that we take it for granted and forget. For many of us, it’s difficult and frightening to even imagine a world in which we no longer have access to the water we need. Maybe this is why water stewardship never seems to get the attention it deserves. But we no longer have that luxury.

This week, the United Nations hosts the 2023 Water Conference, the first in nearly 50 years. All of us at WWF are thrilled to see water take center stage in a global platform. And I’m personally so excited to see the enthusiastic engagement, participation, and support from so many of the world’s leading companies. The reason for this goes beyond an altruistic notion to save the planet—though of course we admire and encourage that; it’s about making sure their business stays in business.

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  • Date: 27 February 2023

Water is a vital element of life and one of the world’s most precious resources. However, with risks such as climate change, population growth, and changing consumption patterns, water is under threat. In fact, freshwater species are declining by 83%, faster than terrestrial or marine species. Humans are also at risk, with 1.1 billion people worldwide lacking access to water. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages.

Building resilient communities and ecosystems is a crucial step in the fight against the water crisis and climate change, something that the WWF and The Coca-Cola Company partnership is working toward. Across the world, the partnership has identified priority freshwater basins and collaborated with governments, local communities, and other businesses to ensure the long-term protection and sustainable management of freshwater resources. Coca-Cola’s charitable arm, The Coca-Cola Foundation, has also supported work in this area.

One example of this can be found in the partnership’s work along the Yangtze River in China.

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