Mission (gray bloc)

Valuing Nature
Samuel Vionnet
Sustainability Expert and Founder
+41 (0)76 372 90 27

I support organisations to integrate the value of natural and social capital into decision making, by providing innovative methodologies, data and expertise.

780% return on investment

For every US dollar invested by Novartis in each of the four carbon-sink projects, an average of USD 7.8 worth of societal value is created thanks to climate change mitigation, ecosystem services,...

How sustainable is hydroelectricity?

The Las Cruces hydroelectric project in Mexico might lead to a negative outcome for the Mexican if built. A natural and social capital accounting method has been used to assess the project's impact,...

There is no sustainability without a balance sheet

Measuring social and natural capital only makes sense when we consider balance sheet. So far, very few organizations have managed to do this. We only see P&L published. But P&L is like GPD, it only...

Jobs at all costs

The private sector is exploring new ways to measure its societal impact, moving beyond traditional economic indicators. We developed an innovative model based on social determinant of health studies....

Achieving net positive impact using the SDGs

If not already done, you will have to use SDGs for defining your net positive impact. But how to measure it? I discuss four steps to support you in this difficult task: your theory of change, your...

Honey is worth more than you think

The Association mellifera is developing a high impact social project around honey bees. Valuing Nature sponsored the creation of one bee colony and calculated the societal value created by the...

Solving half the world’s problems

This article explores the role of Natural Capital within the SDGs and addresses in particular the connexions that exist between SDGs targets. It provide as well some statistics on the maturity of a...

The Sustainable Development Goals and the Mont Blanc

An innovative analysis of the SDG’s targets is unlocking barriers and triggering efficient actions to reach these goals by 2030. By understanding that these targets are inter-connected and that...

The wider benefit of water recycling in a water scarce region

ENGIE, a global energy company, used a water valuation approach to assess the benefits of a water recycling project with the help of Valuing Nature. It showed that the overall benefit generated per...

Water scarcity is not a problem… Undervalued water is

This article summarizes the outcome of a session held at the World Water Week 2015, managed by Valuing Nature, which explored the benefits and limitations of the use of water valuation metrics and...

And now what? The future of Natural Capital Accounting

This article presents the results of a survey, of executives working for private companies and consultancies, on the trends and future challenges of the Natural Capital Accounting approach.

Valuing Water – The Basics

The basic concepts of water valuation as an ecosystem service are presented in this article. Water valuation can fulfil the need for a Natural Capital Accounting method for the private sector. This...

Why is Investment in Watershed Services the future of conservation?

Successful conservation projects have mostly targeted low opportunity cost areas in remote locations until now. Conservation has now entered a new phase by competing with humans needs. Investment in...

The Opportunity Cost of Biodiversity Loss in the Swiss Plateau

Measures to maintain the biodiversity on the Swiss plateau would generate 136 millions CHF of benefit for the society. It is urgent that we realize that the sharp decline in biodiversity in...

Global Land Use Dataset

Data is critical to assess the reliance of companies on natural capital. A new model is available to fill this data gap with a global coverage of land use related externalities.

The Value of Rain

A study showed how to link water footprint and ecosystem services valuation to identify the value of rain and freshwater in Santa Cruz (Bolivia) region. This study was done in partnership with Forest...

Natural Capital Accounting - An Introduction

Recognizing the benefits we obtain from nature is key to ensuring long term profit while creating shared value. This article presents shorty the interest for the methodology, illustrated by a case...

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Valuing Nature
Samuel Vionnet
Switzerland - Guatemala
CH: +41 76 372 90 27
GT: +502 4490-5633‬

Valuing Nature is member of


The wider benefit of water recycling in a water scarce region

ENGIE, a global energy company, used a water valuation approach to assess the benefits of a water recycling project with the help of Valuing Nature. It showed that the overall benefit generated per treated cubic meter reaches more than 3 AUD for a range of stakeholders including ENGIE, the local communities and the wider society.

Release date: 07.10.2015
Client: Engie
Category: Case studies

Water issues can only be addressed by taking a comprehensive view at watershed level, involving all stakeholders. Understanding the value of water for those stakeholders is at the basis of the design of efficient solutions, whether involving new policies or infrastructure investment, pricing methods or other means.

The private sector in particular has been historically focused on its direct operations only, looking at water use efficiency and waste treatment measures in particular. More recently, it started using the water scarcity index to screen production sites to identify potential values at risk. However, water scarcity is often a rough measure of pressure on water resources, as it is derived from a ratio between the amount of water use and the resources available (although some work is being undertaken to refine those metrics). It does not inform us about the cause of water scarcity, whether it is driven by irrigation water use, demographic increase, climate change, degradation of land, etc., and if this scarcity has an impact on communities and ecosystems. A high level of water scarcity might be well managed and results in low impact.

ENGIE, a global energy company, took the initiative to look beyond water scarcity, more specifically at the value of water for different stakeholders. The case study was undertaken on a cogeneration power plant at Kwinana near Perth in Australia. The water scarcity in this region is so high that two water desalination plants has been built to back up the insufficient water resources and reduce the strain on groundwater supplies. Water scarcity is driven in this location by demographic and industrial expansion, and at the same time by climate change and lack of precipitation. Within this context, a water recycling project has been created to supply an industrial park where ENGIE is located using wastewater from the nearby city. Valuing Nature assessed the benefits of this initiative for a wider selection of stakeholders, and identified the potential value that this analysis could bring to future project identification and planning.

The overall water saving from this water recycling project reaches nearly 4’000 m3/day just for the cogeneration power plant. We identified four main benefits and associated stakeholders, which are:

  • ENGIE/private sector: the water recycling costs are lower than alternative water sources, also involving a lower consumption of chemicals due to improved water quality. Overall, this results in cost savings and mitigation of the risk of water supply disruption in the future.
  • Local communities: reducing the pressure on local water resources reduces the need to extend water desalination capacity in the long term future, thus lowering the overall cost of water supply in the region for its communities. Real economic costs estimates of the various water sources were available. The economic valuation of the recycled water was based on the avoided cost technique.
  • Wider society: different water supply systems have different environmental impact, including greenhouse gas emissions, infrastructure needs, chemical consumption, etc. Desalination water usually has a high carbon footprint, much higher than groundwater or surface water sources. Ensuring that surface and groundwater supply are preserved reduces the need for more environmentally impacting water sources. Overall, this water recycling system reduces the environmental impact linked to more polluting water sources, benefiting the wider society through reduced climate change impact and other environmental damage (the assessment was realized using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology and a customized economic factors applied to LCA indicators).
  • Ecosystems services/wetlands: groundwater is the main water source in the Perth region while surface water is vanishing due to climate change lowering precipitation year after year. This groundwater is connected to a variety of wetlands in the region, which are linked to a range of ecosystem services benefiting the local communities and wider society. These benefits have been estimated using benefit transfer technique, based on the publication of de Groot et al. 2012.

When summing up the benefits experienced by the various identified stakeholders, we get an overall benefit above 3 AUD/m3. More than half the total benefit is experienced by ENGIE, as illustrated within the figure below. This demonstrates that a big driver for similar future projects might be the cost reduction for the private sector, in addition to resilient water supply sources and more general reputation benefits.

Looking beyond the benefits for ENGIE, local communities are the second biggest beneficiaries, followed by the wider society and the benefits provided by wetlands ecosystem services.

Those results show that it is possible to estimate the impact of a water management project on a wider range of stakeholders, in monetary units. The benefits are mostly experienced through reduced costs for all stakeholders groups. This information could influence the way such projects are identified, planned, negotiated and financed in the future.

Water valuation is a flexible and powerful tool to analyze a situation in a watershed and to support decision making in order to improve watershed management, involving the different stakeholders present. I hope to see more organizations and communities using this tool to trigger actions to become more sustainable.

This case study was presented at the World Water Week 2015, along with other water valuation case studies. To access the other case studies, please click here.

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