Sustainability Reads: July 21- July 27

Food, energy and water: the politics of the nexus
The interdependence of food, energy, and water security exists and optimization of the tradeoffs between all three resources is key. However, the bottom line is that efforts to address are politicized and don’t necessarily take into account local needs. For example, hydro projects to address water security were constructed in Thailand displaced cropland that was valuable to meeting local demand for food so wasn’t worth it. Although international community is still grounding this nexus approach, it is based on two assumptions: 1.) Using global and regional models of the flows of these resources, ignoring day-to-day realities at the local level; 2) Using these models for economic valuations which can be used as a decision-making tool and market mechanism to efficiently allocate resources. Limits include the reality that trade-offs between food, energy, and water are not in perfect equilibrium and especially at the local level priorities can look different from the macro perspective. By Jeremy Allouche on Political Science hosted by The Guardian.

EPA is failing to stop methane leaks from pipelines, inspector general says
It is widely acknowledged that EPA does not adequately regulate fracking activities which have a number of environmental and health effects; most discussions are focused around leaking methane which is a potent greenhouse gas. Article provides highlights from a recent report from the EPA’s inspector general including that in 2011, more than $192 million worth of natural gas was lost due to leaks in pipelines. Report also supports President Obama’s call for partnership between EPA and Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to address, which the EPA has now agreed to take on. We hope this partnership can transcend the obstacles put forth by companies conducting fracking activities and reduce the amount of methane leaked. By Katie Valentine on Climate Progress.

GreenBiz 101: The core of materiality? What matters most
You have probably heard of the term ‘materiality’ and this post illustrates what the concept means as part of company’s increasing social responsibility. Materiality is relevant environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors that should guide companies’ sustainability programs and what they report on. Survey identifies the following issues as commonly material to companies’ operations: climate change, air pollution, access to energy, water pollution, bribery/corruption and biodiversity loss. Deciding what is material is determined by engaging stakeholders including NGOs, investors, employees, and communities. Efforts to standardize what is material by industry is being conducted by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and is a key aspect of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) requirements. By Heather Clancy on Greenbiz.com.

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