Earth Genome: Current Work
We have begun our work with corporations and investors who have direct, significant influence over the use of natural capital:
- GIST: We have co-created the Green Infrastructure Support Tool (GIST) with Arizona State University and seven global corporations through the auspices of the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), to address global water issues via green infrastructure solutions. GIST was showcased in December 2015 during the WBCSD annual conference in Paris and the subject of a presentation by Earth Genome co-founder Glen Low at the GreenBiz16 conference in February 2016. Public release of GIST is expected in early 2016.
- Following on the success of GIST, we are developing additional tools to address multiple sustainability decisions corporations and municipalities are facing:
- We are creating an agricultural supply chain tool focused on optimizing crop suitability and mitigating food sourcing risks.
- We are in discussions to design a tool for guiding decision-making on sustainable investments, based on water quantity/quality insights.
- And we are developing a source water protection tool designed to inform municipalities how to best ensure water supply quantity and quality through watershed level investments to protect drinking water.
- See how The Earth Genome now allows you to access changes in surface water area across the globe over time — an example of the unprecedented access to environmental information our work can give you.
- We are exploring impact investing tools for several financial services organizations focused on negative screening (for risk and impact) and positive screening (for environmental and social benefit).
Our Initial Focal Areas
Out of our ongoing conversations with industry partners, we’re focusing development of The Earth Genome on four initial impact areas that business has told us will have immense relevance and value for its decision making:
- Water: Building on our success with GIST, prioritizing investments to address water issues (too little, too much, too dirty) to ensure operations have secure water.
- Site Selection: Identifying the best locations for new sites given long-term resource inputs, and identifying investments to mitigate future risks to existing sites.
- Supply Chains: Identifying the highest agricultural supply chain risks, financial impact, and solution scenarios to improve resiliency.
- Food: Prioritizing levers to improve yield and optimize inputs, given climate change and water availability.
The key is to find the right decisions that — if improved — would create real financial value. We’re focused on providing tools for those specific decisions such that each successive tool is built better, faster and cheaper — leveraging all the prior work done. That approach will ensure that the data and tools drive real value while decreasing costs to use.
Our Pathway to Impact
Apps — one of the engines of the digital economy — are key to scaling insights from big environmental data. So we are also engaging with best-in-breed third-party developers to build their own custom decision-support tools and apps using The Earth Genome’s data and platform — catalyzing lower-cost development, greater repeatability and customization across issues, and ultimately end-user adoption at scale.
In five years, The Earth Genome will create a new, vibrant market for environmental information and make the use of that information — and natural capital — as ubiquitous as financial capital is today. That market will lead to new levels of private investment in the environment that far exceed those from public institutions and philanthropy, while lowering risk for corporations, governments and society.
Our investments in data infrastructure underpin our work with corporations and investors. We are investing heavily in creating web services and application programming interfaces (APIs) so that our partners can quickly and easily incorporate environmental information into their own applications. We are custom building tools and building industry standard infrastructure to ensure we scale the impact of our work quickly and efficiently.
The Earth Genome will catalyze the following developments within five years:
- A plethora of low-cost decision-support apps based on big environmental data;
- A vibrant ecosystem of environmental-information players and tools where products and innovations increasingly become more valuable with scale of use and connection to other apps and tools;
- Improved decisions by all capital decision makers — because they now have insight on how natural capital informs how they need to do business in any specific place; and
- Ubiquitous, transparent access to pinpoint information about the state and dynamics of the environment — akin to the quality and access we have for economic information today.
Our long-term goal: The Earth Genome will ultimately answer any question about the planet relevant to decision making — from sustainable agriculture to air quality, from energy production to forests.
It will one day improve decisions everywhere, leading to better outcomes for governments, business, society and the planet.