Our Philosophy


NWNL is committed to ethical goals for our interview processes, support of responsible stewardship,
eco-friendly policies and environmental education for all ages. Details on our environmental social justice,
ethics, sustainability practices and interview guidelines below.     


No Water No Life [NWNL] is deeply saddened by recent cases of racial injustice that are part of systemic racial, social and environmental injustice in the US and elsewhere. NWNL is listening and clear on where it stands. They say, “Justice should roll like a river.” As well, rivers need to flow with clean water to ensure justice, peace and life. Below are our commitments.

• Inspired by today’s protest leaders, NWNL is now reexamining social and environmental injustice we’ve documented: from Cajun-Creole families in the Mississippi River Delta fleeing sea level rise, to Kenya’s Lake Turkana fishermen and desert pastoralists losing their only water source due to Ethiopia’s new dams. Now NWNL will intensify its spotlight on environmental/social injustice in Black, indigenous, Latinx, African and other marginal communities.

• Photographs expand the power of words. NWNL imagery illuminates issues from drought-prone California to the flood-prone Mississippi River’s banks and Delta. Awareness is the precursor to action. So, recognizing how our focus matches today’s plea for action, NWNL will more actively expose unhealthy and unjust conditions.

• NWNL archived materials from 70 African and N American expeditions are critical to exposing life-threatening conditions in under-served watershed communities lacking justice, health care, education , water, sanitation, and solutions to climate change impacts. NWNL will more widely share its archive of 15 years of research, 118,000 photos and 450 interviews by expanding our partnerships. 

• NWNL hiring is all-inclusive. For 15 years, our interns, student bloggers and project manager have been a great Next-Gen, multi-racial team focused on solutions to watershed threats and their consequences. Yet NWNL will now do more to encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds and request blogs addressing environmental and social justice.

• NWNL supports the concept of Green Voices of Color. Among today’s many great voices addressing social/environmental injustice, NWNL recommends:

Zeke Magazine, published by Social Documentary Network: a photographically driven magazine full of powerful portrayals of unjust issues.
Vacant to VibrantCreating Successful Green Infrastructure Networks, by Sandra Albro: a book of practical insights to converting vacant land, aging sewer infrastructure and declining neighborhoods into inspiring and productive community green spaces.
Just Add Water, 
a campaign to break down barriers and elevate the importance of racial and ethnic diversity in the outdoors.

• NWNL knows action and funding are needed more than words to maintain this month’s momentum for change and to achieve new global initiatives. Thus, we hope you will join us as NWNL donates 10% of its July photo sales and the NWNL staff donates to projects promoting racial equity and justice.


    • All information gleaned will be recorded with source, researcher and date obtained. Direct quotations will be noted and appropriately credited when used.
    • Intellectual property not in Creative Commons will be used only with permission.


    • DO NO HARM: The welfare of the ecosystem and its species is paramount. NWNL Photographers will maintain safe, informed and responsible working distances, not distressing wildlife nor interfering with their life cycles.
    • TAKE ONLY PHOTOS & OBEY RULES: Expedition teams will take nothing other than images; be aware of and follow all posted regulations; and respect other scientists, landowners, guides, government officials and recreationalists.
    • WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T: NWNL photographers will respect the rights, customs and values of all stakeholders in watersheds visited.
    • CAPTIVE ANIMALS: They will only be documented if their welfare is being addressed and they’e not being exploited solely for profit. Such images will be captioned as “captive.”
    • DIGITAL MANIPULATION: No essential content will be altered in any way that would misrepresent actual events or circumstances or deceive the viewer. Any other creative manipulation will be fully disclosed to the viewer.

PRACTICES: NWNL’s current efforts include:

    • Covering our carbon emissions in office and on expedition with carbon credits.
    • Using in-kind, donated equipment and eco-friendly materials for packaging, photographic printing and paper products; reviewing packaging options to reduce waste; and reducing usage of post-consumer materials, paper consumption and mail volume.
    • Turning off lights and reducing heat and air conditioning as much as possible; using compact fluorescent lights; and purchasing ENERGY STAR qualified appliances.
    • Examining travel routes for fuel conservation; inflating of car tires to increase gas mileage performance; and studying transportation routing to conserve gas and reduce emissions.
    • Recycling programs for paper, printer cartridges and other equipment where possible.
    • Telecommuting, mass transportation and carpooling for associates.

VISION: NWNL seeks to be an organization where:

    • NWNL office, research and expedition teams are urged to become aware of environmental, social and economic interactions of human and biophysical systems.
    • Sharing of information on sustainability issues is encouraged and supported.
    • The NWNL mission is developed to contribute to global sustainability and foster partnerships with other eco-focused stewardship organizations.
    • Sustainability issues are fostered within NWNL to help create stronger messages and outputs.
    • Emission of pollutants and consumption of materials and energy is reduced to the lowest levels possible without decreasing the level of services necessary to fulfill the NWNL mission.

COMMITMENT: The NWNL Team affirms that:

It is committed to protect and enhance the environment through its research, organizational and travel efforts; to sustain ecological systems; and to educate stakeholders globally to become aware of:

      • The vulnerability of our environment and natural resources
      • The need for environmental education and stewardship advocacy
      • The potential contributions of a global political will to protect our watersheds.

GOALS: The NWNL Team will strive to:

    • Incorporate environmental concerns in all project decisions
    • Seek alternatives to minimize negative environmental influences, both in office and in the field
    • Conserve natural resources and restore environmental quality
    • Consider social, economic and environmental impacts of NWNL’s operations and foster a participatory process in augmenting sustainability.
    • The NWNL Team recognizes that understanding and committing to sustainability is an evolving practice.

NWNL interviews are conducted to help raise awareness of watershed values, threats and sustainable management solutions. In converting our NWNL interviews with scientists, stewards and stakeholders into readable documents, our primary guiding principle is to preserve the integrity of each interviewee’s spoken words.

There is no universal standard in preparing interview transcripts for publication; so to establish trust with our readers, NWNL hereby clarifies the approach and standards of our interview editing process. Our objective is to capture and convey perceptions and informational content, rather than to provide an opportunity to study the mechanics of their speech, grammar or ethnographic diction. NWNL edits are meant to balance the meaning, character and flavor of spoken expression with the need for readability.


    • Unintentional repetition, over-used conjunctives, misspoken words, non-words, small talk, miscellaneous filler and subject/verb disagreements are usually eliminated.
    • The order in which subjects are discussed within an interview may be changed to create sequencing clarity for the reader.
    • The wording of the original NWNL question may be adjusted for sequencing clarity or context.
    • Discussion not pertinent to questions in the transcript may be withheld to keep the conversation focused or saved for future interview transcripts on separate issues.
    • Information added later by NWNL for clarity will be in brackets: i.e.: a feature that no longer exists, such as a waterfall flooded over by a dam reservoir.
    • Contractions heard on the tape are usually maintained to reproduce real speech and character.
    • Phonetic spellings for dialect are not used.

Upon request, interviews are available in their entirety, with the only edits being elimination of comments that the interviewer requested be kept “off-the-record.”