World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

filtered by category: Freshwater

  • Date: 05 December 2022
  • Author: Melissa D. Ho, Senior Vice President, Freshwater and Food

Water is essential to life; it flows through all plants, people, and wildlife. We depend on abundant and clean freshwater to drink and flourish, to sustain thriving healthy ecosystems, floodplains, and fisheries, and to grow crops and livestock that feed and nourish humanity. While the Earth is covered in vast amounts of water, we forget or we take for granted that freshwater is a finite and precious resource. Despite the essential role to life and livelihoods, much of our freshwater and the biodiversity it supports are in dire trouble. Only one-third of the world's long rivers remain free-flowing and freshwater species are among the most threatened on the planet; one in three face extinction. The biggest threats and drivers of freshwater degradation are unsustainable agricultural water use, which is causing pollution and overextraction of surface and groundwater resources, and poorly planned infrastructure, which fragments rivers and wetlands and disrupts connectivity and function of ecosystems. All of these challenges are exacerbated by climate change.

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  • Date: 01 December 2022
  • Author: Enrique Prunes

The Upper Rio Grande’s first Basin Health Report Card was launched on Thursday, November 17th. The results, developed by leading ecosystem scientists and local experts to help residents and policymakers better understand the health of their local waters, are mixed: the Upper Rio Grande basin scored a “C.” There is not enough water in this region of the Rio Grande to meet the current needs of all users and sustain a healthy river ecosystem into the future.

The Upper Rio Grande, flowing from headwaters in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, through New Mexico, and ending in Texas, has supported people and wildlife for thousands of years. More than 6 million people in the United States rely on its resources. Native Nations, Pueblos, and Spanish acequias depend on the river for water, food, and shelter. The river also supports the Chihuahuan Desert, one of the three most biodiverse deserts in the world. As one of the five longest rivers in the US, an American Heritage, and Wild & Scenic River, the Rio Grande’s value as a critical watershed for the people and species of the Southwest region is unmatched.

The launch of the report card was similar to its development – it brought together people from all corners of the region to discuss the status and next steps for water in the basin.

Partnerships prove critical to tackling the world’s water challenges; there is not enough money, time, or resources for any one organization to “solve” the world’s water challenges on its own. The creation of the report card is part of a partnership among Audubon Southwest, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and World Wildlife Fund and engaged over 100 stakeholders from over 60 organizations. As discussed in the event and throughout the report card’s development, diverse engagement across stakeholders is needed to create a shared vision for protection.

  • meeting 1

    Speakers representing the three states- Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas- presented during the event. Here, Mike Hamman, NM State Engineer, summarizes the changing water levels of the Rio Grande over time and the importance of tackling future water uncertainty.

  • rio grande 2

    Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury, U.S. representative from New Mexico's 1st congressional district, spoke to the value of water for life in New Mexico during her recorded remarks.

  • rio meeting 3

    After the presentation, speakers answered audience questions, which ranged from details on the future scenario models to opportunities for continuing freshwater restoration even when it seems difficult, such as in the Forgotten Reach near El Paso,

Local Native Nations and Pueblo communities throughout the Upper Rio Grande region are valued members of water rights and management conversations. Engagement with these groups throughout the two-year report card development process was a clear priority, yet it was difficult to fully engage with those groups. Beyond the launch, WWF aims to utilize the report card findings to support advocacy efforts and ensure there are consistent opportunities for engagement and discussion.

This assessment is unique in that it includes existing and new information from across all three states: Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Furthermore, it provides regional specificity, highlighting that the indicator scores worsen from north to south. Some indicators may score an A in one locale, but score a C in another. This information allows for location specific management changes to improve on targeted indicators.

““The Rio Grande Basin is unique in its multi-state and binational nature and it makes sense that approaches to dealing with transboundary issues in the basin would be just as unique. This report provides important information for the upper and middle portion of the region and paves the way for discussion and the development of guidance and models that can be applied later along the international reach.” ”

Leslie Grijalva
Environmental Protection Specialist, Environmental Management Division Program Manager Rio Grande Texas Clean Rivers Program, International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. Section

By convening action at all levels—from local communities to industry to governments—we can usher in a future of cooperation and water security.

  • Date: 05 October 2022
  • Author: Allen Townsend, Senior Program Officer, Freshwater Metrics & Stewardship

Like an archer aligning their eye and arrow on the bullseye, identifying the appropriate target is critical for establishing the path towards action. For companies looking to reduce their dependencies and impacts on the environment, including freshwater, land, biodiversity, and ocean, science-based targets (SBTs) for nature are a critical initiative for companies to take robust and credible action towards an environmentally safe and socially just future. When defined and implemented, these corporate targets will take direct aim at the drivers and pressures fueling nature loss, offering a pathway for critical and measurable corporate action in the right places at the right time.

As a member of the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) and a Freshwater Hub partner, WWF is collaborating with CDP, The Nature Conservancy, Pacific Institute, and World Resources Institute in providing technical expertise for the development of science-based targets for nature. While SBTN's Initial Guidance, published in 2020, provides companies with a 5-step framework for action, the Network has now released more detailed technical guidance for public comment. This draft guidance will provide companies with detailed methodologies to assess and prioritize their impacts on nature, and enable them to progress to setting targets, beginning with freshwater.

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  • Date: 25 March 2022
  • Author: Devon Leahy, Vice President of Sustainability at Ralph Lauren and Nicole Tanner, Freshwater & Food Transformation Manager, World Wildlife Fund

Hidden water is water that is not felt or seen in final products, but is required for almost every step of the production process. The water footprint of textile and apparel companies includes freshwater use throughout the phases of clothing production from growing cotton or other materials, to manufacturing and finishing the final garment. Therefore, water use needs to be effective and efficient across the value chain. By working to uncover where water is hidden within the value chain, the partnership between Ralph Lauren and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is finding innovative ways to decrease water-related risk, preserve the resource, and benefit the environment and local communities.

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