drinking water, drought, economy, outreach, photos

Greenwashing and Water Advertisements

Have you ever seen an advertisement for a product claiming to be sustainable?  Has an advertisement like the one below (by Nestle) ever convinced you that a product is good for the environment?

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Above Photo: EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index

As I heard today on Think Out Loud, an advertising organization called EnviroMedia Social Marketing and the University of Oregon have created a website called EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index to provide a forum for people – you the consumer –  to compile and discuss these types of advertisements.

It’s greenwashing when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact.

– EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index

A simple search for the keyword water shows several ads that dupe the consumer into thinking a product is sustainable. For example, look at the ad below for cotton – the catch line is “Cotton: the environmentally friendly fiber.” Yet cotton is a water intensive crop often grown in water scarce locations. So do you think cotton is environmentally sustainable?

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Above Photo: EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index

Register on the website to comment on this ad or upload more ads that you think have been “greenwashed”.

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economy, international, investments, water privitization, water trade

Global Water Index: Investments for Privatized Water

You may have heard the phrase S&P 500 floating around, background noise as you listen to the news. But if you are a person with even an inkling of interest in the stock market, you will know the S&P 500 is an index exhibiting stocks of the top 500 publicly owned companies primarily from the US.

The S&P 500 shows the market value of the 500 companies in the index and is a good indicator of how the stock market is doing as a whole. The index will rise if the market value of a company goes up (with an increase in individuals interested in purchasing shares), and the index will decrease if the market value of a company goes down.

Well, what does this have to do with water, you ask.

The S&P 500 actually has little to do with water itself, but Standard and Poor’s (the company that created the S&P 500) recently released an index of the top 50 companies in the global water sector called the S&P Global Water Index. The Global Water Index is similar to the S&P 500 except investors use it to track viability of investments in the international water sector. The Global Water Index is comprised of 25 companies in water utilities or infrastructure and 25 companies in water equipment or materials.


Photo courtesy Pixieslayer on flickr.

Events such as the subprime mortgage crisis in the US and rising oil prices have really challenged the future of investments. Water, necessary to life and in demand everywhere on the planet, is thought the next big thing among some economists.

“One man’s challenge is another man’s opportunity. With water shortages an enormous challenge in both the developed and developing world, companies that transmit, purify, or supply equipment should benefit.”

– Forbes, ‘Ways to Play Water

Should individuals with money benefit on global shortages of drinkable water?

Individuals are already investing in the global water sector, and this will influence sustainable and available water supplies into the future. Such investments could drive-up the cost of implementing water infrastructure or treatment facilities for developing countries with dwindling budgets. In addition, among the ten most profitable companies in the Global Water Index are SUEZ Inc. and Veolia Environnement SA. These privatized water suppliers, as well as others in the index, have poor records of providing affordable and dependable water supplies.

For more information on water privatization, see this post on Waterblogged.info or listen to this CBC radio series (a little past due but still great), Water for Profit.

agriculture, asia, climate change, drinking water, economy, industrial, international, technology, united nations, water trade

World Economic Forum 2008 Wraps Up with Water

Water was a major topic of conversation at the World Economic Forum 2008 (WEF) now coming to a close in Davos, Switzerland.

At the forum, according to the Environmental News Service, Bill Gates announced a grant of $306 million dollars for development projects to help boost yields of crops for farmers in developing countries. It is unclear whether a portion of this money will be devoted to water conservation practices in conjunction with agriculture. Also discussed was implementation of a cap and trade system for water supplies and the importance of market forces in water allocation.

Leaders at the forum pledged renewed support for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, of which one goal is to increase access to safe drinking water.

Created as a venue for dialogue, research, and networking among economic and political leaders, the WEF is often criticized for more talk rather than action, a membership majority of industrialized countries (primarily USA, Europe, and Asia), and limited media access to specified plenary sessions.

While members of the WEF did review the importance of water in the coming age, no definitive plan was drafted to move our global society in that direction. However, maybe discussions during the event will leave lasting impressions on these economic leaders. And gradually, they will come to the realization that water is more than a commodity, but a necessity of life.

Be sure to check out other blog posts on this issue… our friends at WaterWired give additional perspective on how water was incorporated into the WEF agenda.

Webcasts from this forum are available on the Podcasts, Video, and Web-Mediapage on this blog, as well as on the WEF website.

For an insiders look at the WEF 2008, check out this NPR story: The Wacky World Economic Forum.

international, technology, water trade

Israel’s Stance and Expanding Water-Technology Markets

If you pay attention to international water issues, you will soon realize the small country of Israel is slowly attempting to make a name for itself in the field of water technology. In fact, Israel recently hosted an international water technology conference, WATEC, from October 30 to November 1 of 2007.

Israel, though lacking in natural water resources, is exporting its water technology across the globe, billing itself as the “Silicon Valley of water technology,” in the words of Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer.

Israel hopes to increase export revenues from water technologies to 2 billion US dollars by 2010. The Israeli government has just launched a program to maximize technical knowledge of desalination, water purification, irrigation systems, water treatment, reclaimed water, water security, and water infrastructure.

Given the increase in global water scarcity, Israel is one of many entities ready to step into an open-economic playing field to double their dollar in the field of water technologies.

This report, Growing Markets for Water and Wastewater Technologies, issued by BCC Research, likely explains markets available for growth in the water technology sector, but specifics of the report are not known because I could not afford to pay the $4850.00 to purchase a copy (yes, the water technology industry must be growing…). However, one of the report highlights states:

The expenditures for municipal water and wastewater applications were $8,066 million in 2005, $9,575 million in 2006, and $11,290 million in 2007. They are expected to grow at compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.2% and reach $39,709 million by 2012.

We can apply the economic model of supply and demand very clearly to the water scenario. As demand for water increases, the price of water (water technologies, etc.) on the world market will also increase. Consequently, there will be an accrual of entities hoping to profit on the commodity of water, alas we are seeing such happening presently.

Author’s Postscript: This post highlights global water technology markets and Israel’s current standing in such world markets. However, there are many critical water issues relating to Israels continued occupation of Palestinian territories in areas of the region with greater access to water.

Additionally, Israel maintains water technology, yet continuously fails to supply Palestinians with assistance for development of water infrastructure or access to reliable water supplies.  In the near future, I will attempt to address these issues.