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World Wildlife Fund On Balance

  • Date: 21 April 2017
  • Author: Sandra Vijn, Director for Markets and Food

In the US, there are over 43,000 dairy farms spread out over our 50 states. These farms are essential to so many products we use every day. As our population grows and demand on dairy farms increases, so will the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) they emit, adding to the global threat of climate change.

GHG emissions on farms is not a result just of a farm’s type or location, but on the management practices used there. This means there’s no one-size fits all solution to lower GHG emissions. Instead, we need multiple strategies and best management practices that fit the context in which a farm operates. But how can these be identified?

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has launched the Environmental Stewardship Continuous Improvement Reference Manual of its Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program. This manual is a comprehensive resource of on-farm management practices to reduce a farm’s environmental footprint.

This manual is accompanied by an online tool, FARM ES, that allows dairy farmers to benchmark their energy use and GHG emissions against national and regional averages and to identify opportunities for improvement on their farms. The manual then provides resources and guidance to help farmers make these improvements in various areas of farm management, including feed, manure, energy, forage and animal health.

The online tool can also be used to share limited data with others that are interested in tracking progress towards GHG and energy goals within their dairy supply chains. For companies like Walmart, who recently launched Project Gigaton to reduce emissions along it supply chain, tools like this can prove valuable to their suppliers.

“FARM Environmental Stewardship helps the dairy community tell its stewardship story in a measurable, science-based way while providing business value that is also environmentally beneficial,” said Mike McCloskey, Chairman of the NMPF Environmental Committee, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Environmental Stewardship Committee and co-founder of fairlife, LLC.  “The FARM Environmental Stewardship Continuous Improvement Reference Manual provides a resource that aggregates existing science and technology that can help dairy drive continuous improvement, all while tracking its progress in a way that can be relayed to dairy customers.”

In an increasingly resource scarce world, we need to produce more food on the current amount of land, with less impact on the environment. The FARM ES tool has the ability to support US dairy farmers in continuously identifying better management practices for environmental stewardship.

WWF collaborated with the Innovation Center for US Dairy over the last few years to develop the science, indicators and metrics that form the basis for the NMPF FARM ES program. In addition, WWF has lead an independent expert panel that provided recommendations and resources for the manual to ensure the program produces the best resources and solutions for farmers in terms of environmental sustainability.

 

  • Date: 11 April 2017

Building a Brighter Future: The LEGO Group and the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance journey towards a future built with sustainable materials

The LEGO Group joined the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA) in 2016 as a part of the LEGO Group’s continued work towards achieving their stated 2030 goal of using sustainable materials for all packaging and core products. The BFA aims at guiding the selection of bio-based sources to encourage the development of responsibly sourced bioplastics, a sustainable choice for the future. As the company prepares to break ground on the Sustainable Materials Centre, the LEGO Group’s decision to join the BFA is not only representative of the company’s commitment to progress but is also exciting for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as it works towards achieving its mission of transforming markets to reduce the impact of commodity production and consumption.

The complex reality of creating a sustainable bio-economy necessitates collective action towards solutions. 

“Making the change to bio-based sources is a multi-step journey. It’s not a one-step process, nor an easy one at that, because ready-made solutions just don’t exist. Solutions need to start from scratch. But despite this challenge, the LEGO Group has made a bold commitment to join and engage with the BFA to find those solutions,” said Erin Simon, deputy director of packaging and material science at World Wildlife Fund. “Challenges up ahead are to be expected, especially considering that we’re asking the LEGO Group to meet a higher bar when it comes to bioplastics sourcing, something that WWF is excited to be a part of.”

The BFA will support the LEGO Group as they work to reduce the environmental footprint of their operations and products, in an effort to leave a positive impact on the planet our children will inherit. For further information on the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance, please visit: http://bioplasticfeedstockalliance.org/.

The LEGO Group and the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance: Forging a new commitment to sustainability

WWF has been a leading advocate for responsible materials development and management. This belief very much aligns with the LEGO Group’s perspective on sustainability. With the support of the LEGO Group and others member companies, BFA is driving positive progress in the field of sustainable materials. No common definition exists for what constitutes a sustainable material. The ‘sustainability’ of a material is influenced by a variety of aspects including its chemical composition, the source, its use, its end-of-life management, and its impact on the environment. WWF will continue to help convene the BFA, now including the LEGO Group, to guide progress towards addressing these aspects of sustainable material selection and use, so as to meet objectives.

“We are excited to take on the huge challenge of replacing the materials of more than 3,600 different LEGO® elements with sustainable alternatives – without compromising on quality nor safety. We join the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance to help guide our selection of feedstocks for bio-based plastics in order to ensure a more sustainable flow of materials. The LEGO Group aspires to have positive impact on the world, and an important part of this aspiration is to reduce our environmental impact to a minimum. We have significantly reduced the impact of our own operations, and we have now turned our attention to our supply chain and materials sourcing. It is our ambition to replace all core materials and packaging with sustainable alternatives by 2030,” says Tim Brooks, vice president for Environmental Responsibility and Sustainable Materials Centre.

Building on a historical commitment to sustainability

For many years, WWF and the LEGO Group have been close collaborators on a suite of sustainability topics which include sourcing sustainable packaging materials, the WindMade initiative, and WWF’s Climate Savers program. This newest collaboration, which began in spring 2015, is the exciting next phase of the LEGO Group’s journey towards building a sustainable future, all the while serving as a model for others in the industry to follow suit as we journey towards a future made of sustainable materials.

  • Date: 06 April 2017

New cattle ranching practices could turn the tide of deforestation in the Amazon.

For a business that cares about its reputation and impact on the planet, not buying beef from the Amazon seems like a no-brainer. Beef production is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation in the region, and no company wants to be associated with the destruction of the world’s most precious rainforest.

That was the position taken for many years by McDonald’s, one of the world’s largest beef buyers. But during the Rio Olympics in 2016, the company’s developmental franchisee in Latin America, Arcos Dorados, announced progress and new innovations, which allowed beef to be sourced from the Amazon without contributing to deforestation.   Instead of simply avoiding the huge number of cattle ranchers in the region, Arcos Dorados is a partner in a project called Novo Campo (“new land”) which aims to make beef production more sustainable.

More with less

Since 1970, an area of rainforest the size of France has been cleared in the Amazon region. “Cattle ranching is one of main economic activities in these areas, but the land is being used in a very inefficient way,” explains Leonardo Lima, director of sustainability for Arcos Dorados, developmental franchisee of McDonald’s in Latin America. “Today, new techniques and procedures enable farmers to produce more with less land – they can achieve four to five times greater productivity without clearing any more forest.”

For example, dividing the property into smaller units and regularly rotating the cattle between them helps to optimize grass growth and keep the soil fertile. Providing plenty of shade and piping water by gravity from reservoirs to drinking stations improves animal welfare – which also means the livestock are ready for market sooner, in turn reducing the greenhouse-gas emissions per kilo of beef. Intensifying production increases yields for farmers, but also frees up land that can be used for other purposes – including growing soy and corn, and restoring native forest.

Sustainable beef?

Working with 28 farmers in the state of Mato Grosso, Novo Campo is piloting the use of indicators developed by the Brazilian Roundtable for Sustainable Livestock (GTPS). They cover natural resource use, people and community, animal health and welfare, quality, traceability, efficiency and innovation.

“We were telling cattle ranchers that there are more sustainable ways to do their work,” says Francisco Beduschi, current GTPS president and coordinator of Sustainable Livestock Initiative for the Instituto Centro de Vida - ICV, the local environmental NGO that designed and develop the project. “So they challenged us to show them how.”

The project helps ranchers apply various good agricultural practices, which have been tested by the Brazilian agricultural research agency Embrapa, in line with the GTPS principles. It also has tools that enable ICV’s technicians to measure aspects of farms social and environmental performance – including a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based tool to verify that there has been no deforestation on farms. This in addition to a general satellite deforestation monitoring system in the Amazon put in place by the Brazilian government. All farms involved must sign a commitment pledging themselves to zero deforestation and continuous improvement.

One area where striking results can be seen is in greenhouse-gas emissions. “The best-performing ranches have reduced their emissions by 90 per cent,” says Francisco. Indeed, he believes it’s possible for ranches to be carbon-neutral through measures such as good pasture management, which can lock carbon into the soil.

“Our aim is that this could be the next baseline for sustainable production – zero deforestation, with a net carbon balance and indicators to measure sustainability,” he says.

The indicators being developed by the Brazilian roundtable are aligned with the principles and criteria of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, a multi-stakeholder initiative founded by beef industry players including McDonalds, Cargill and Walmart and NGOs like WWF, the Rainforest Alliance and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to promote an environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable beef industry. Having common principles and measurable indicators in place makes it easier for buyers to verify the sustainability of the beef they buy.

Lima acknowledges that the beef sourced to date from the Novo Campo project is “a drop of water in the ocean”. But, he says, there’s growing interest from farmers and investors – and that’s good news for the world’s largest rainforest. “With these procedures and techniques,” he says, “there is no reason and no excuse for anyone to cut any trees in the Amazon.”

Meanwhile, the good practices, indicators and monitoring systems being developed through the project will support other efforts, such as the Collaboration for Forests and Agriculture. This five-year initiative, led by WWF, TNC and the National Wildlife Federation with funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, aims to eliminate deforestation linked to beef and soy in the Amazon, Cerrado and Chaco regions in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina  by 2020.  

“Getting major buyers to commit to verified deforestation-free beef provides an incentive for producers on the ground to adopt better practices, generating jobs and wealth ” says Jean-François Timmers, WWF’s Global Soy Lead. “The Novo Campo project shows it’s possible to increase beef production while reducing the area of land needed, also liberating new space for expanding crops without destroying natural habitats. We urgently need to scale up these solutions to end deforestation in the Amazon, the Cerrado and beyond.”

  • Date: 29 March 2017

WWF and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. launched a partnership in 2016 to help ensure the health of our oceans. Marking the one-year anniversary of our five-year partnership, we have made much progress towards achieving our first set of 2020 goals. Through the partnership, Royal Caribbean will aim to achieve ambitious and measurable sustainability targets that reduce the company’s environmental footprint, raise awareness on the importance of ocean conservation among Royal Caribbean’s more than 5 million passengers worldwide, and support WWF’s oceans conservation work.

Download the report here to learn more about how the past year has begun laying the groundwork across priority areas, which include sustainable seafood and other key commodities, destination stewardship, and emissions reductions.

 

  • Date: 24 March 2017
  • Author: Hilton Worldwide

Earth Hour is the world’s largest grassroots movement that celebrates climate action, and it all began at a Hilton. In 2007, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) conceived of Earth Hour at the Hilton in Sydney, Australia. A decade later, Hilton is honoring its Earth Hour legacy with a global social media contest to spread the word on how we can all play a role in reducing our energy consumption.

Earth Hour takes place this Saturday, March 25 from 8:30PM to 9:30PM your local time. Millions of people across the planet join the global Earth Hour movement by simply turning off the lights. Hilton is inviting you to take a picture of your Earth Hour “unplugging” and demonstrate your creativity in mobilizing climate action.  Share your photo on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the hashtags #EarthHour and #TravelWithPurposeContest. The winner will win a five-night trip to see the world’s most famous natural light – the Northern Lights – in Reykjavik, Iceland!

Since its inception, Earth Hour has inspired hundreds of thousands of Hilton Team Members at hotels around the world who have done everything from developing low carbon menus to hosting “dining in the dark” experiences and acoustic concerts. The annual celebration is part of a broader strategic partnership between Hilton and WWF that is focused on three critical areas: water use, sustainable seafood purchasing, and food waste.  As a result of the collaboration and WWF’s insight and expertise, Hilton launched its Sustainable Seafood goals in 2016 and a new Water Stewardship Commitment just this week.

  • Date: 22 March 2017
  • Author: Maxime Verstraete, VP Corporate Responsibility, Hilton Worldwide

The travel and tourism sector in which Hilton operates is one the world's largest employers, supporting 1 in 10 jobs around the world. We are also a sector that depends heavily on water – a resource that is all too often taken for granted – and one that, by 2030, will be facing a 40 percent shortfall in what is needed to meet global demand.  That is why we are partnering with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to launch a new, long-term water stewardship strategy that will help us tackle the global water challenge.

Water is the lifeline that flows through a hotel, supplying its swimming pools, guest room showers and baths, greening the landscaping, and facilitating all of the cooking and cleaning that happens in the kitchens. In previous years, Hilton has worked hard to reduce the amount of water we consume within our hotel operations – with nearly 17 percent reduction in 7 years. Now we are ready to take our water stewardship to the next level by looking across the entire value chain that supports the hotel ecosystem, from our business partnerships, to the communities in which we operate and the watersheds in which they are based.

Through our collaboration with WWF, we’re evaluating our entire value chain to identify areas that are exposed to high water risk, as well as the communities that are increasingly exposed to water stress. Working with our partner businesses, vendors and suppliers, we will take steps to reduce water usage and enhance and protect clean water resources in the areas surrounding our hotels, and we will share best practices across our industry.

To ensure we make progress, we track, monitor and evaluate performance through our innovative measurement platform, LightStay. Using this tool, which is a brand standard for all 4,900 Hilton hotels, we are able to understand how our hotels are managing and improving water use over time. This in turn will allow us to develop and enhance the system, through incorporation of more detailed water risk information, to drive greater water awareness and ensuring our hotels have the information they need to make thoughtful decisions in daily operations.

Today, we are also joining the global dialogue on water stewardship by signing onto the United Nation’s CEO Water Mandate, joining business leaders in advancing water stewardship across the globe.

Learn more about how you can join Hilton in becoming a better water steward by listening to our friend, Steve.

  • Date: 21 February 2017
  • Author: Jason Clay

When a large, global food company commits to deforestation-free commodities, its entire supply chain listens. And when McDonald’s does so, other global food companies follow suit. That’s why the company’s commitment to source only deforestation-free beef by 2020 in regions with identified risks relating to the preservation of forests holds such promise to protect critical habitats, including Latin America’s most valuable ecosystems.

While deforestation has slowed across parts of the Amazon, it remains the world’s largest arc of deforestation. Furthermore, as if to compensate for progress in the Brazilian Amazon, deforestation has intensified in other Amazon regions of countries neighboring Brazil, as well as the Cerrado savannah of Brazil, and the Chaco mixed grass and woodlands of Paraguay and Argentina.

Many factors drive deforestation, but beef production is the biggest. Cattle ranching occupies about 80 percent of the deforested area in the Amazon, and it has led to the conversion of nearly 200 million acres of Cerrado habitat. Between 1976 and 2011, more than 29 million acres of Chaco habitat were converted largely first for the production of beef and then soy, a feed source for livestock.

The environmental impacts of deforestation are clear: it contributes to climate change, drought, soil degradation and erosion, water pollution, the spread of disease, and the loss of biodiversity. There are a number of social impacts as well from land conflicts to bonded and child labor, the displacement of indigenous cultures, and deterioration of water quality for drinking and fish, the most common source of protein in many affected areas.

From multinational traders to smallholder farmers, businesses increasingly recognize the economic risks of deforestation, such as resource scarcity and soil degradation, supply chain instability, legal jeopardy, and reputational harm. Its impact on weather variability is particularly troublesome for Latin American farmers who largely rely on rain as opposed to irrigation. Indeed, research indicates that deforestation has contributed to several “once-in-a-century” droughts and floods in Brazil since 2000.

Global food companies are in a unique position to influence not only their own supply chains but also that of their rivals. McDonald’s need for ground beef from select cuts leaves the majority of each animal for other buyers. In other words, for every pound of deforestation-free beef raised on farms that supply to McDonald’s, several more pounds of food—as well as leather and other byproducts—are destined for other companies’ supply chains, facilitating a sector-wide move to conserve forests.

WWF is working to support the transition to deforestation-free commodities, such as beef, soy, palm oil, timber, and so on. As a founding member of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, for example, WWF works with producers, other industry players, environmental NGOs, and researchers to push for the adoption of locally appropriate indicators and metrics that help producers reduce the footprint of the beef they produce. In collaboration with National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, we are securing commitments from other companies in the beef and soy supply chains to eliminate deforestation in the Amazon, Cerrado, and Chaco ecosystems specifically.

Just as the global, interconnected food system means that environmental and economic impacts can reverberate around the world, so too can positive commitments to protect forests ripple out across the entire industry. As one of the largest single buyers of beef, McDonald’s influences producers, processors, distributors, and other companies at every point along the value chain. Today, it is sending a clear message to all of them: the future of beef is deforestation-free.

  • Date: 14 February 2017
  • Author: Richard Holland, director, markets programme (interim), WWF

One way to tackle daunting, seemingly impossible, challenges is to break them down into manageable “chunks” and share-out responsibility for these among a large number of willing and qualified people. Such is it with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted by 198 governments in September 2015 and which comprise some 17 goals and 169 targets, mapping out a routeway for the world community to 2030. 

Action to address these targets is being picked-up by partnerships of governments, companies, international organizations and civil society working from the local to global levels. In effect, it’s a type of large scale crowd-sourcing exercise and certainly one that is unparalleled in its ambition to eliminate extreme poverty, reduce inequality, and protect the planet in just 13 years.

To make progress toward the targets many of these programs and partnerships need information, tools, organization and funding which will come from hundreds, or more likely, tens of thousands of sources. Voluntary sustainability standards represent one set of ready-made tools and platforms that can help business take positive steps towards several of the 2030 targets. And do so in a way that supports many millions of small-holder farmers, fishing communities and forest owners improve their standards of living, while satisfying growing consumer demands for more ethical products.

The ISEAL-WWF Report “SDGs mean business: how credible standards can help companies deliver the 2030 Agenda“ provides a clear explanation as to the role that credible voluntary sustainability standards can play in helping business contributing tangibly to the SDG agenda, and start doing this now.

 

The Report provides examples of results that have already been achieved towards the Goals for food security, health, gender equality, water management, decent work, sustainable consumption and production, climate change, life undersea and on land, and for partnership.

Voluntary standards are of course no “silver bullet”. They are only one means to make progress and ultimately governments and businesses will need to combine these with many other efforts and measures. Still they can be employed efficiently by businesses at every link in the value chain – enabling producers, harvesters and processors to achieve a recognized level of sustainability, and traders, manufacturers and retailers to address the impacts of their supply chains. In doing so, they contribute across a number of SDGs.

As well as helping tackle challenges described by the SDGs, the use of voluntary standards generally align well with business interests in many sectors. Indeed at their best they allow companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors, anticipate increasing consumer demand for new products, secure access to needed resources and increase the value of their brands.

By providing a way to link economic interests with contributing to the SDG agenda, the chances of attracting more people to get involved should increase. In this way voluntary standards can help generate a few of the many, many hands that will be needed to achieve the SDG goals over the coming 13 years.

  • Date: 25 January 2017
  • Author: David McLaughlin, VP, Agriculture, Markets and Food

In a global movement to protect the world’s tropical forests, countless companies, governments, NGOs and indigenous peoples’ organizations have committed to ending deforestation. Many include the world’s largest food companies who have pledged to eliminate deforestation from their agricultural supply chains, including from the production of palm oil. While this international ambition shows great promise, the challenge now rests with finding a way to ensure that these commitments are successfully implemented.

Fortunately, the increased availability of publicly available spatial data from satellite imagery and other sources has revolutionized the way the world sees and can respond to deforestation. Platforms such as Global Forest Watch (GFW) have extended the accessibility of global datasets to track deforestation in near real-time, and carry with them new possibilities to better protect forests.

With support from GFW, World Wildlife Fund–US is piloting a new tool, the Jurisdictional Risk Assessment, or JRA, to enable companies and governments to leverage this wealth of data to prioritize their own efforts to reduce and end deforestation, particularly as they relate to addressing illegal deforestation.

The JRA allows palm oil buyers, governments, and other end-users to assess and compare the extent and rate of past deforestation activities within the palm oil producing districts of Indonesia. More specifically, the JRA is based on a set of key risk assessment indicators, designed to capture only deforestation that is achieved in a manner that is not permitted, or which takes place where certain laws and policies prohibit deforestation or conversion in Indonesia. For example, the tool identifies districts that have experienced historically higher rates of deforestation in primary forests, protected areas, peatland, and certain sections of the country’s Forest Estate through activities considered illegal such as through the use of fire for land conversion. By highlighting jurisdictions associated with higher risk, palm oil buyers can better prioritize their traceability and due diligence efforts toward achieving their commitments to deforestation-free supply chains. Similarly, governments can use the analysis to prioritize domestic efforts to meet climate targets through policy measures and land use planning to reduce deforestation.

Traceability has long been a challenge for food companies, particularly in the palm oil sector. Complex supply chains leave food companies with significant difficulty in verifying the extent to which their products are associated with deforestation and illegal activities, exposing them to a variety of legal, financial, and reputational risks.

In Indonesia, district heads, known as bhupatis, have significant authority over the granting, development and enforcement of rules surrounding palm oil concessions. As a result, the Jurisdictional Risk Assessment is conducted at the district level. While the pilot focuses on palm oil in Indonesia, it could be adapted in further phases for other commodities and geographies associated with deforestation.

Among other important considerations, the JRA is based primarily on remote sensing data and does not quantify social risks (e.g., land insecurity, labor rights). It is also based on historic data but could potentially be developed to self-update with more current data flows as they become available. The JRA is not intended to be used as a standalone tool with regard to procurement decisions across jurisdictions. However, it can complement other sources of information (in particular, local knowledge and consultations) to paint a broader picture of deforestation risks and underlying conditions in order to facilitate decision-making.

Forests are increasingly recognized for the numerous critical roles they play on this planet, from filtering the air we breathe and purifying the water we drink, to providing habitat for a vast array of biodiversity, and providing an important buffer against the impacts of a changing climate. Their destruction poses direct threats to the very livelihoods of local communities as well as the business interests of local and multinational companies. By shining more light on deforestation risks, companies, governments, and all those seeking to end deforestation can better prioritize their efforts to strengthen due diligence and sustainable production practices at scale—a positive step for everyone, all 7.4 billion of us.

  • Date: 22 December 2016
  • Author: Kris Johnson, TNC; Derric Pennington, WWF

The Cedar Rapids Water Division has its headquarters, appropriately, just a few hundred yards east of the Cedar River, the source of drinking water for this second largest city in Iowa. This building is the epicenter of the Water Division’s work to provide clean water for the 126,000 residents and numerous industrial and food production facilities located in the city.

Rising levels of nitrate in the Cedar River make this work more important than ever. The Water Division building was also the location of a recent workshop organized by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and Cedar Rapids. In this unique meeting, farmers, watershed coordinators, and partners from producer organizations and state and federal agencies crowded around large, interactive TVs to “design” a watershed that could support profitable farming and provide clean water as well.

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