Press Releases

“Measuring What Matters” summit brings together national leaders for discussions around providing more comprehensive and equitable evaluation of infrastructure benefits

Nov 30, 2022

BATON ROUGE, La. (Nov. 30, 2022) – Hundreds of national leaders, scientists, academics and stakeholders are participating today in the “Measuring What Matters: Towards a more comprehensive and equitable evaluation of benefits” summit at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

The summit is the culmination of an applied policy research effort from The Water Institute of the Gulf, in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineering With Nature® (EWN) Program, to consider how to best quantify the broader set of economic, environmental and social benefits and costs that integrated water resource projects can provide.

Speakers include Brenda Mallory, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works); Rick Spinrad, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Marcia McNutt, President of the National Academy of Sciences. Afternoon panels include perspectives from federal and state agencies as well as private sector and nonprofit organizations.

The economic benefits associated with water resources projects has been the focus of federal investment decisions for decades. However, the science of quantifying and evaluating the diverse environmental, social, as well as economic benefits and costs of water resources projects has advanced significantly in recent years.

In 2021, USACE engaged The Water Institute to review existing benefits evaluation approaches and identify practical options for improving federal practice for evaluating comprehensive array of economic, environmental and social benefits produced by integrated water resources projects.

The Water Institute study team has worked with USACE to identify and further evaluate six completed USACE planning studies that encompass the navigation, coastal storm risk management, flood risk management and ecosystem restoration missions within USACE to assess methods for evaluating nature-based solutions and the comprehensive benefits expected from water resources projects.

The Measuring What Matters Summit seeks to provide a venue for open exchange and discussion around these benefit measuring approaches. Participants will have the opportunity to hear from senior administration personnel on the importance of considering and valuing a comprehensive range of economic, environmental and social benefits in support of the President’s priorities, including the Justice40 Initiative and the 2022 Earth Day Executive Order (EO 14072).

Ultimately, the feedback and perspectives shared in this summit are intended to provide USACE and other interested government agencies with actionable and practical guidance on how to best formulate, evaluate and deliver integrated water resources projects.

Two earlier reports from The Water Institute’s applied policy research are here. Following consideration of the feedback and perspectives shared during the summit, a capstone report with findings and recommendations will be published.

The full agenda for the summit is here.

More information on The Water Institute’s policy research is here.