12.20.16 | By Jessica Hanson

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is already wrapping up – what a full year this has been! We have some exciting opportunities ahead, and we’re pleased to share our 2016 successes with you. From all of us at Earth Economics, we wish you a very happy holiday season. We look forward to sharing more exciting developments in 2017!

Here are a few of our 2016 highlights:

Securing a $400 million win for NDRC competitors

Earth Economics served as a subject matter expert in HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), advising cities nationwide and working closely with several competition finalists in conducting holistic benefit-cost analysis for their applications. These competitors were awarded a combined total of $400 million, over 1/3 of the total funding available!

Continuing work with the 100 Resilient Cities Initiative

As a Platform Partner for the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Initiative, we support the selected 100 cities with expert natural capital valuation, ultimately helping them to develop long-term funding strategies for these assets. Over this past year, we collaborated with the City of El Paso, Texas, to assess the value of the city’s open space and provide a model for connecting the value to their economy. 

Evaluating the Lower Snake River dams  

Our report, “National and Regional Economic Analysis of the Four Lower Snake River Dams”, showed the four Lower Snake River dams return only $0.15 cents on every dollar.  This report is critical to informing the benefits and costs of the dams and the sustainability of this infrastructure in a modern economy, and it is a crucial tool for stakeholder groups advocating for dam removal and alternative solutions.

Providing values to guide FEMA policy updates

May 2016 marked yet another pivotal change in FEMA policy which allows ecosystem services to be applied to all FEMA project types, including fire and drought mitigation actions. Earth Economics partnered with CDM Smith to conduct the research necessary for implementing ecosystem services into Benefit-Cost Analysis – a federal mandate set in 2015.  The federal government now acknowledges the value of natural landscapes for mitigating the impacts of natural disasters.

Working with the Governmental Accounting Standards Board

In March, we conducted a professional development session on natural resources accounting for about 60 staff, board, and advisory council members of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), and the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF). Together, these institutions set national accounting standards for state and local government and the private sector in the U.S. We are continuing our work to advance accounting standards and funding mechanisms for conservation lands such as forested watersheds, wetlands, and open space.

Supporting a $22 million recreation bond in Alaska’s Mat-Su Borough

In late 2015, we released a report, “Economic Benefits of Trails, Parks, and Open Space in the Mat-Su Borough”, that showed that every dollar invested in these resources provides a return of more than $5.  Over the following months, stakeholders leveraged the report to educate voters about the value of their natural lands, and in the fall of 2016, Mat-Su Borough residents voted in favor of a $22 million bond to support local trails, parks, pools, and ice rinks – the largest recreation bond ever passed in Alaska’s history!

Helping Columbia River Tribes negotiate with better economics

In collaboration with the Pacific Rivers Council, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and the Upper Columbia United Tribes, we assessed the ecosystem services provided throughout the entire Columbia River Basin (CRB).  An ecosystem services valuation of the CRB is a vital step in negotiating new terms for the Columbia River Treaty, which is scheduled for an update in 2024. For the first time ever, the Columbia River Tribes will have documentation of the Basin’s natural capital value and an economic argument to support ecosystem conservation and the reintroduction of salmon populations.

Painting a clear picture of sustainable agriculture practices

In a new effort to spark investment in sustainable agriculture, Earth Economics joined with Farmland LP and the Delta Institute to assess the economic impact of best management practices on ecosystem services provisioning. This new analysis provides invaluable data for farmers and investors alike. With a clear picture of the financial impacts of sustainable agriculture practices, individuals and stakeholders will be able to gauge the environmental and financial impacts of their investments.