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World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

  • Date: 19 February 2019
  • Author: Erin Simon, Director, Sustainability R&D

Plastic is everywhere. It’s in our food and water. It’s in hundreds of diverse wildlife species. It’s found its way to the most remote parts of the world. And in the centuries that plastic waste takes to degrade, it’s polluting critical ecosystems and the species that call them home in ways that we’re just starting to wrap our minds around.

One dump truck full of plastic waste enters our oceans every minute. Over the year, this accumulates to 8 million tons of plastic entering our oceans. If we continue with business as usual, the future looks dire for nature and people. It’s estimated that by 2050, 99% of seabirds will have ingested plastic. The plastic waste crisis poses an urgent and rapidly growing threat to the entire world. To avert catastrophe, we have to stem the flow of plastic waste into the natural world — now.

Forget piecemeal solutions. We must rethink the entire lifecycle of plastic — how we source, design, manage, and reuse the plastic materials that communities depend upon — and engage key players at every stage along the way. The global scale and complexity of the challenge demands a multi-faceted and coordinated response that spans every region of the world and every sector of society.

The private sector has a particularly critical role to play. Businesses can foster positive change in their direct operations and across their supply chains, motivate and collaborate with other industry leaders and service providers, influence policy, engage individual consumers, and spark public dialogue — exactly the kind of ripple effect we need to achieve WWF’s global vision of No Plastic in Nature by 2030.

A recent report by WWF, “No Plastic in Nature: A Practical Guide for Business Engagement,” examines the scope and causes of the plastic waste crisis and offers a clear and pragmatic guide for businesses to lead the much-needed plastics revolution. 

TrashSea

One dump truck full of plastic waste enters our oceans every minute. Over the year, this accumulates to 8 million tons of plastic entering our oceans

WWF brought different areas of expertise to bear in creating this report—a fitting process, given the critical role that collaboration has to play in all of our recommendations. Through an analysis of best practices, independent research, and case studies, the report synthesizes what works, and what’s adaptable. Specifically, there are the four ways that companies can drive systemic change:

  • Embrace strategic collaboration – making purposeful design improvements will maximize impact
  • Shift the thinking around design, packaging, and distribution so that the later stages of plastic’s life cycle are kept in mind. The result will be improved recycling and composting rates, as well as robust markets for recycled materials
  • Engage consumers in ways that shift behavior for the long-run
  • Innovate the ways we currently collect, recycle and compost waste

The plastic waste crisis represents a shared challenge for nature, communities, and business. The end goal of No Plastic in Nature is within the world’s reach, and now we have a roadmap to get us there. We call upon businesses to help lead the way.

  • Date: 15 February 2019
  • Author: Laura Nowlin

The following is an excerpt of a story featured in AGDAILY titled "The words of Rural America — we are here!"

I have read several stories recently that make life in rural America seem pretty dismal — the population is aging and decreasing, everyone is poorly educated and addicted to drugs, and the land is either not accessible to the public, or it is being destroyed by crops and cows . I wonder how much time those journalists spent in rural America before they wrote those stories? Any places that matter take a time investment to understand.

Well, I haven’t just visited the “flyover” states, I live here — five generations of my family have lived in the same central Montana county. I can’t speak for all of rural America, but I can speak about this place, and I would like to challenge the stereotype.

My husband and I have two children, and we chose to raise them in rural America. We left good-paying “regular” jobs to live and work in the country. We read a lot of children’s books, and one of our favorites is Horton Hears a Who. I think often of those Whos and how they united to yell as loud as they could, “We are here! We are here! We are here!” for someone to hear them.

There aren’t many of us out here — 500 people in all of Petroleum County. We are spread out, and we work full-time jobs (sometimes several jobs). We are mostly farmers and ranchers, teachers, and local government staff. We are not journalists, marketing directors, or graphic designers — it is hard to gather together to be loud enough to tell our own story. But, we have a story to tell...

 

Cattle on Ranch in Montana

...We are passionate about our land. This includes the public land where we graze our cattle and the private land that has sometimes been in families for over 100 years. Most of Petroleum County is grassland or the Missouri River Breaks — land that is not suitable for growing crops, so instead, most of us raise cattle.

The grasslands evolved with grazers. The two are codependent on each other and the grasslands need a large herbivore grazing it just as much as the cattle need the grasslands. When a cow grazes, she chomps off part of the plant, which allows it to regrow. When a plant does not have the opportunity to regrow, it becomes decadent — old growth dies and clogs out any chance for new growth to happen. The wildlife, such as deer and antelope, don’t graze this old, dead grass. Cattle hooves break up plants and create litter that covers the ground — this catches water and helps plants to regrow. And, finally, cows poop and pee — the best form of natural (and free!) fertilization out there. Grazing is part of the whole system that enhances both the soils and everything that is below ground, as well as the grasses and other plants above ground.

Ranchers provide, “ecosystem services.” This means that when we use good land management practices, we provide benefits to the land from which all of society benefits. Healthy grasslands, which can be achieved through cattle grazing, provide ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, water filtration and water storage, open spaces, and wildlife habitat. The beauty of using cattle to graze the grasslands is that they can be managed to address the needs of the land. For example, a noxious weed infestation can be grazed at a certain time of year to get it under control. Where buildup of plant material has happened, grazing that buildup can keep fire danger managed to a more natural level. Studies of grassland songbirds have shown that some of these birds need short grasses, and even prefer bare ground, at certain times of the year. Ranchers can graze their cattle through pastures on a rotation that benefits these declining bird populations.

To read the full story, visit AGDAILY.

  • Date: 17 January 2019
  • Author: By Christine Leong, Managing Director, Global Blockchain Identity at Accenture and Tal Viskin, Senior Manager, Development Partnerships, Blockchain at Accenture

When it comes to agriculture, what you don’t know can hurt you. That’s why companies are beginning to use blockchain technology to trace food products—notably, seafood, beef, and soy—back to their source. But, according to Accenture's new report titled “Tracing the Supply Chain: How Blockchain Can Enable Traceability in the Food Industry,” using the technology well takes careful planning and wide collaboration.

Global commodity supply chains are far-reaching, complex, and immensely fragmented. Millions of producers supply thousands of processors that sell to thousands of importers and so on. Without complete traceability, companies put their brands and potentially even their customers’ safety at risk. Food recallsexposés of slave labourreports of illegal deforestationand Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), are just a few examples.

Today’s paper-based systems for tracking food to its source are a 20th century solution in a 21st century marketplace. Platforms like blockchain, however, enable anyone with a smartphone and internet access to connect with everyone else from fishers and farmers to retailers and restaurants to shed light on current complex and opaque supply chains. That’s the kind of visibility that companies need to mitigate risk, to reputation and product alike.

In addition to providing traceability, systems like blockchain can also lower costs and achieve efficiency gains through improved supply chain and inventory management. Improved transparency can help companies recall products in less time for less money. Indeed, our report reveals that blockchain technology can create a transparency revolution in our global food system, but only if industry, producers, financial institutions, government, and civil society follow a few basic guidelines.

First, there is a lot of excitement around blockchain technology. But, before investing capital into the development of a blockchain solution, companies must ensure that blockchain adds the intended value. In general, our research showed that it could enhance traceability for a variety of commodities, including wild-caught tuna, farmed shrimp, soy, and beef.

Second, any blockchain system must be able to connect millions of farmers, hundreds of processors, and thousands more distributors, brands, retailers, and foodservice companies. It will work only if it’s interoperable and digital transformation is enabled. It will fail if fishers, farmers, and processors use different systems for each of the hundreds of retailers, traders, and other companies further down the supply chain. As companies jump on the blockchain bandwagon, many are creating their own in-house, enterprise solutions with different languages and transaction systems.

Third, data must be presented uniformly. (Anyone who has tried to merge two differently formatted Excel spreadsheets can tell you how important that is.) Producers, processors, and others along the supply chain must use consistent language to refer to products and their characteristics—from agreeing on “soy” versus “soya” to kilograms versus tons. Otherwise, companies will end up with a towering babble of data.

Fourth, even immaculately designed systems cannot avoid human error. People make mistakes, so using electronic trackers and other devices that automatically upload information to the blockchain, such as radio ID tags, can improve the quality and consistency of data shared on the blockchain.

Finally, companies must strike the right balance between transparency, security, and privacy. Of course, blockchain systems should include as much detail as necessary to trace products. But exposing the names and addresses of thousands of producers could put them at risk. Companies may use information to gain competitive advantage over their rivals, so, where possible, transaction details such as quantity and price between two participants would be visible only to stakeholders of the transaction.

Early blockchain trials are promising, but it is still early days. It could be a powerful tool, but it won’t work if companies wield it blindly. They need to coordinate with their buyers, suppliers, partners, and even their competitors to build an effective, sustainable, and interoperable system. That’s the best way—perhaps the only way—that companies can eliminate illegal and unethical practices from their supply chains and, better yet, from the planet entirely.

About the Report:

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funded “Tracing the Supply Chain: How blockchain can enable traceability in the food industry” as part of its efforts to assess the feasibility and costs associated with accelerating blockchain for traceability in beef, soy, farmed shrimp and wild capture tuna supply chains—namely, soy and beef in Latin America and aquaculture in South and Southeast Asia. The report benefited from advisors, including representatives from SAP, Microsoft, IBM, Republic Systems, Synapse Nexus, and WWF. 

This blog was originally posted on Accenture's Technology Innovation blog.

  • Date: 06 December 2018
  • Author: David Schorr, Senior Manager, Transparent Seas, WWF

Whether it’s in your personal life or your business, without connections you won’t find success. For the seafood industry—and for all the people around the planet who eat fish or fish for a living—it’s the same story. If seafood is to be sustainable and profitable, connectivity is key.

This is important because the decline of our ocean ecosystems is now mainstream knowledge confirmed by new data and science practically every week. The latest Living Planet Report shows just how much fishing has had an impact on our oceans and the global food supply chain. Since 1950, vessels have hauled in nearly 6 billion tons of fish and invertebrates, like lobsters and mussels. That’s the equivalent weight of 9.4 million yellow school buses hauled out of the ocean every year. And if that is hard to imagine, just picture these buses lining up bumper to bumper—it would wrap around Earth three times, and then some.

While some fishing is sustainable, much is not – and some is outright illegal. Telling seafood products apart requires tracking what’s caught (or farmed), where, when, how and by whom. But for seafood, which has one of the most complex global supply chains of any food product, traceability is a significant challenge. Following fish from vessel to dinner plate cannot be done without dozens of technologies being able to smoothly interoperate. 

How interoperability works

Interoperability is a big word for a relatively simple idea—technology is most useful when different systems can communicate with one another seamlessly.

Consider the smartphone that you rely on for every day life. If you travel across state lines—or even overseas – as long as you cover the cost, your phone will work. That doesn’t just happen. The mobile industry prioritized interoperability to make that possible.

The same is true for ATM cards. Interoperability makes accessing a massive network of banks possible, which allows you to withdraw money anywhere in the world using only a sliver of plastic, getting the cash you need instantly and securely.

Where business is leading

Technology can create transparency throughout the seafood supply chain, but only if systems can communicate and share information. The key is for the seafood industry to come together around a culture of transparency and data sharing, and to establish digital data sharing standards and practices.

Fortunately, the seafood industry is actively engaged to make that possible, and business leaders are on the cusp of a breakthrough that will change the way the global seafood supply chain works.

With the help of WWF and the Global Food Traceability Center, more than fifty leading companies have come together through the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) to draft a set of voluntary industry guidelines and create the technical standards needed to allow key information to flow easily across the sector. The GDST includes small, medium, and large businesses from North America, Europe and Asia, and represents the whole supply chain from fishers to processors to retailers. They are working not only to establish basic interoperability standards, but also to produce industry-wide best practices for the quality of information and verification practices.

This work is expected to wrap up in just over a year, but there is still time for additional companies and stakeholders to be a part of this process. Go to the GDST website to learn more or get involved.

Although it sounds wonky, the creation of a framework to enable interoperability of seafood supply chain management and information systems will be a critical moment on the timeline of technology in ocean conservation. Perhaps a Living Planet Report published a generation from now will tell the story of how a set of companies dedicated to interoperable information sharing helped open the door to greater knowledge about where our seafood comes from and how we can manage our ocean resources for long-term, sustainable health.

  • Date: 28 November 2018
  • Author: Jennifer Silberman, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility, Target

Ceres and WWF first launched the AgWater Challenge in 2016 to encourage better water stewardship among the world’s most influential food and beverage companies. On October 16, Target and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) joined seven already participating companies in making stronger, more transparent commitments to better protect freshwater resources in their agricultural supply chains.

WWF caught up with Target’s Vice President of Corporate Responsibility, Jennifer Silberman, to learn more about the company’s commitments.

Jennifer Silberman

Why is it important to Target to protect freshwater resources in its agricultural supply chains?

At Target, we want to have a positive impact on both the communities where our products are sourced from, as well as communities where our stores are located. We sell products that can be heavily reliant on freshwater, so the importance of good stewardship in agriculture is key for us to continue to provide our guests with more sustainable products.

You recently committed to collaborate with suppliers in the Mississippi basin to address water pollution issues. How do you plan to achieve that goal?

We will work with Field to Market to identify partners (primarily corn and soy) in the Mississippi River Basin, who will build time-bound measurable goals to improve soil health in these locations, reducing agricultural runoff. The goal is that more corn and soy grown under these guidelines will be used in our supply chain, and then end up in a Target store near you.

How does managing water resources fit within Target’s overall corporate responsibility goals?

These commitments align with our existing goals of creating healthy ecosystems and providing sustainable water management, all part of our Future at Heart strategy. It ties into our Freshwater Stewardship Approach work launched earlier this year where we made specific commitments in raw material supply chains, manufacturing, our direct operations, and beyond the fence line of our stores.

How does Target connect these enterprise corporate responsibility goals to its agricultural supply chain?

This connects with work already taking place with our suppliers to drive sustainable water stewardship in Target owned-brand product design and manufacturing, as part of our Responsible Sourcing Aspirations for 2020. The commitments we are making will take this work one step further by engaging in our food raw material supply chains. We know that some of our largest areas of material impact on water usage are in agricultural supply chains, and making public commitments through the AgWater Challenge was a great opportunity for us to partner with our suppliers to accelerate progress on freshwater stewardship.

AWC-5 Ingredients 10
  • Date: 27 November 2018
  • Author: Lou Leonard, Senior Vice President for Climate and Energy at WWF

Last month, the world’s preeminent climate scientists issued a somber warning to the world: we have a dozen years to halve global emissions to get on a path to prevent catastrophic climate change from devastating our communities later in this century. We need only look to recent fires in California or storms in North Carolina for a taste of the dangerous future in store if we fail to take up this charge. 

What once were thought to be “tomorrow’s problems” are now today’s crises -- that’s as clear as ever in the recent United Nations report and in our daily news feeds. The global community needs to keep warming to no more than 1.5 degrees to ensure our collective safety and prosperity. To get there, we need zero net emissions by 2050 – full global decarbonization – which requires cutting current emission levels in half by 2030.

But doing so is a tall order. The transformation of our food, transportation and electric systems required to fully decarbonize our society is unprecedented. It means we’ll need to harness every tool at our disposal: technological innovation, national policy, sub-national climate action and an economy-wide price on carbon.

Perhaps what’s most critical – and in shortest supply – is radical cooperation. We need all facets of the US economy to be part of the solution, exploring common ground and collaborating where possible toward a common goal.

Listening and collaboration are values that have guided WWF’s climate work from the beginning. We have a long history of working with some of our nations’ largest energy users – including major companies and metropolitan areas – to set and scale science-based climate targets. Engaging the private sector and regional governments is essential to transforming entire markets to lower-impact business models.

Effective solutions to the climate crisis will catalyze positive transformation across the many sectors of our economy. A price on carbon and complementary national regulation are critical to getting us there in the US. While discussions around carbon pricing have percolated among economists and think tanks over the last decade, only recently has the dialogue expanded to include leading businesses in the chief sectors of the US economy and voices from across the, too-often divided, political spectrum. The Climate Leadership Council (CLC) has led just such an effort, which is why WWF is pleased to be joining this important conversation.

We need private sector stakeholders and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to come together and meaningfully support a carbon pricing policy that meets and exceeds the targets set by the United States under the Paris Agreement. While carbon pricing is not a silver bullet, it’s a solution that merits robust discussion, creative design and honest debate. For some sectors, an appropriate carbon price has the potential to be a gamechanger. In others, like the transportation sector, carbon pricing alone likely will not be enough to bring down emissions at the pace needed to meet our national targets.

In joining CLC, WWF is not endorsing all elements of the Council’s four-part plan. We fully support the US Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate climate pollution. Specific regulations the agency has issued to address climate pollution from power plants, vehicles, and oil & gas facilities are critical to achieving the immediate emissions reductions we need now.

It’s not surprising that such a diverse group of players come to the table with some differing views. That’s okay and in fact expected when exploring grand ideas with the potential to take on the biggest crisis facing our planet. What matters most is that by tackling this together, we can help spur the kind of bold solutions the problem demands. This effort may succeed, or it may fail. But we won’t know if we choose not to sit at the table together. 

  • Date: 20 November 2018
  • Author: Marty Spitzer, Senior Director of Renewable Energy, WWF

Walmart’s Project Gigaton is a supplier-focused initiative to prevent one gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions across their global supply chain over 15 years (2015-2030). Project Gigaton aims to inspire suppliers to reduce emissions across their own operations and supply chains.

There are six pillars of Project Gigaton through which suppliers can reduce emissions: energy, agriculture, forests, packaging, waste, and product use. World Wildlife Fund works with Walmart on several of these pillars to help suppliers reach their sustainability targets, and, in turn, further WWF’s conservation mission. In this blog, Marty Spitzer, Senior Director of Renewable Energy at WWF, highlights the energy pillar of Project Gigaton.

How does energy contribute to climate change and emissions outputs within a company’s supply chain?

The vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions around the world come from energy consumption. And for many companies, their supply chain emissions far exceed emissions within their personal operations. That means when looking at a company’s carbon footprint, energy emissions in the supply chain is a good place to start.

If a supplier has already set an emissions reduction goal what is the value of joining Project Gigaton?

For an individual company that’s already set a goal, what Project Gigaton provides is access to a large group of companies and an easy onramp to initiatives that will help companies achieve their goals and set more ambitious targets over time.

The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) is one example of an initiative available to Walmart suppliers in Project Gigaton that can help companies make it easy to buy renewable energy. Project Gigaton also encourages companies to set science based goals to reduce their emissions in line with the standards of the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). The SBTi offers the global standard and accreditation for companies setting SBTs. Project Gigaton also has a relationship with RE100 for companies looking to set a 100% renewable energy goals. We are excited about Project Gigaton because it is a platform that is helping to drive collective action at a large scale and also directly connecting companies with the programs needed to implement their goals.

REBA plenary session

Companies share barriers and paths to success at the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance Summit.

If a supplier is just starting out on their sustainability journey, what would they do to get ready to join Project Gigaton? Who can help?

The first thing that every company should do as they embark on their journey to address climate change is measure their emissions footprint and set up a baseline so they can prioritize the most important emissions and track progress over time. That can be done in house, by a consultant, with NGOs or through partnering with companies. With a baseline in hand a company can identify its greatest reduction opportunities, set goals and begin to implement them. On the Project Gigaton website, companies can sign up and add their commitments. Even if a company has not yet set up a baseline or target, they may still get started with Project Gigaton by investing in emission reduction projects and registering them with Project Gigaton. 

If a company has already joined Gigaton under the energy pillar, why sign up for other pillars?

If a company is well on its way with its energy goals, there are other ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on what kind of company it is and where its footprint is most significant, looking beyond energy emissions is a tremendous opportunity to approach emissions holistically and execute larger reductions.

What resources are available to help those already committed, those looking to commit and those who feel there’s a barrier of entry for a supplier of their size.

For those who are thinking about joining, there are really no barriers to entry. Walmart encourages suppliers to look at their own operations and make a commitment that works best for them. For larger companies, there are quite a few initiatives out there that are designed for your participation and Walmart’s Sustainability Hub has many of those initiatives listed. For smaller companies, those initiatives may not feel like the right fit, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t invest in emissions reductions goals. Smaller companies can start with a commitment to simply understand where their emissions are coming from and subsequently branch out to individualized goals related to transportation, packaging, commodity-driven deforestation or whatever area will help reduce emissions within their operations. 

This blog is part of a series. Please see our additional Project Gigaton Q&As on forests,  agriculture, and food waste. You can join Project Gigaton by submitting your own emissions target, or by submitting goals that fall in one or more of the six pillars. Links to join can be found at: www.walmartsustainabilityhub.com/project-gigaton

  • Date: 19 November 2018
  • Author: Colleen Geurts, Environmental & Sustainability Director at Schreiber Foods

Schreiber Foods is a Wisconsin-based dairy company with global reach. As the company has grown, they’ve built sustainability into their operations. Currently, the company is focused on setting science-based targets to limit their carbon emissions and, in doing so, is seeking to collaborate with a broad range of stakeholders, including World Wildlife Fund, to achieve those goals. They participate in Project Gigaton, Walmart’s supplier-focused initiative to prevent one gigaton of emissions across their global supply chain between 2015 and 2030, and through that are helping make shifts in the dairy grocery aisle. Colleen Geurts, Environmental & Sustainability Director at Schreiber Foods, shared why the company is committed to science-based targets, and the role animal digestion of feed plays in their company’s emissions.

Geurts-Colleen-2014

How does agriculture contribute to climate change and emissions outputs within your company’s supply chain?

As a dairy company, the main ingredients we purchase are milk and cheese. To help us prepare to set a science-based target, we performed a global scope 3 emissions (those attributable to our suppliers) hotspot assessment, which is the process of determining where our supply chain’s carbon footprint is the largest. Through that assessment we learned that the majority of emissions from dairy happen before the milk even leaves the farm. The emissions mainly come from dairy cows digesting feed, called enteric emissions (as in, coming from the gut). This brings an interesting challenge for Schreiber, since we don’t own any farms or dairy co-ops. We purchase milk and cheese from co-ops and dairy processors to make yogurt, cream cheese, natural cheese and processed cheese, so we need to look to our supply chain to help cut our emissions.

Why has your company decided to set a science-based target?

Science-based targets ensure we’re doing our part to reduce our emissions in line with our company’s size and future growth strategies. These targets take the guesswork out of goal setting and allow for transparency. By setting targets approved by Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), we’ll also be working to reduce risk in our supply chain and help ensure we have a sustainable industry going forward. As a customer-brand dairy company, we’re listening to our customers and making sure we set goals consistent with their aspirations, so we can support a sustainable supply and brand for them. Walmart’s Project Gigaton is one example of how we’re supporting our customers in achieving their goals.

What has the target setting journey been like so far?

It takes a huge amount of data and communication to get to the point where you can even set targets. We’ve worked across Schreiber to gather data, understand its significance and then translate these calculations into targets. This process has truly involved all parts of our business around the world. Currently we’re refining some of the data in our scope 3 assessment to complete our target setting work. We’re nearing the home stretch and plan to submit our targets for approval by SBTi soon. I’ve been very impressed by the engagement and support of our Schreiber partner’s (employees) throughout this journey!

What challenges or barriers have you faced?

Currently, our 2020 goals for GHG emissions only take into account our Scope 1 & 2 emissions. These are emissions that occur from the operations in our plants from activities like electricity and fuel use. We set a goal of 25 percent reduction in GHG emissions intensity (GHG per unit of product produced) by 2020 over a 2008 baseline and came up with a plan to achieve the goal. To date, we’ve reduced our GHG emissions intensity 23 percent over our 2008 baseline. We did it by making a plan and executing energy efficiency projects in our own facilities that are under our own control. Along with the plan and execution, it took effort and commitment to achieve progress.

One of the challenges with setting our new science-based targets for 2030 is that the majority of the emissions are coming from the things we purchase and aren’t in our direct control. We will still have a component of the goals that’s targeted to our internal operations (Scope 1 & 2), but where we can make the most difference is in our supply chain with our milk and cheese suppliers. Without collaboration and participation from our suppliers we won’t be able to achieve our goals.

The second challenge we face is how to measure progress. Dairy farmers are constantly working to find ways to be more sustainable. They are stewards of the earth, their livestock and their communities. It’s part of who they are. Since we don’t own farms or dairy co-ops, we can’t see clearly the primary data attributable to the largest piece of our GHG emissions in our carbon footprint. We’d be able to make more progress if farmers and other supply chain stakeholders adopted a consistent tool to calculate emissions and emissions improvements on the farms where we buy our milk. For that reason, we’re working with industry groups to develop tools that measure emissions – and emissions reductions –  the same way across the industry.

What advice do you have for other companies setting agriculture-related climate targets?

We don’t have it all figured out, and that’s okay. Part of the journey will be figuring out how to achieve the targets once they’re set and working together to measure progress. My advice is to work together with your customers, your suppliers, trade associations and NGOs on your journey. This way, we can ensure we’re all getting better and making a difference together. 

  • Date: 17 November 2018
  • Author: Delfin Ganapin, Governance Practice Leader for WWF-International

As calls for a New Deal for Nature and People grow at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Conference of the Parties in Sharm el Sheikh, Delfin Ganapin, WWF’s Governance Practice Leader, makes the case for fully integrating natural systems into the infrastructure of the future. This blog was originally posted on Medium.

We need to build wisely

New infrastructure development is essential if we are to meet the food, water and energy needs of a growing global population and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Yet expected public and private investment of $90 trillion in major projects between now and 2030 will double the amount of infrastructure on Earth and could potentially degrade the natural systems on which we all depend.

Making wise choices and pursuing sustainability is critical.

While infrastructure can contribute significantly to socio-economic development, poor choices on design and location of assets with lifespans of 50 to 100 years can lock-in unsustainability for decades.

Mixed blessings

Developing large 'transport corridors' for example, is increasingly seen as a way to stimulate regional integration and economic growth but outcomes are often mixed.

In one study looking at economic benefits of transport corridors in South Asia, the World Bank found impacts across countries on economic welfare and equity are generally positive but that associated impacts on the environment are extremely negative.

Similarly, assessing conflicts arising in infrastructure projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, IDB found 80% faced a delay, more than 50% declared a cost overrun, and 20% were cancelled due to conflicts.

Tellingly, ecosystem degradation was the most prominent environmental conflict driver in 72% of cases, followed by pollution (67%), deforestation (24%), water issues (17%) and climate change (11%), causing some projects to spend millions on environmental restoration and reforestation, even where regulations did not require such action.

Lack of institutional capacity and deficient upfront planning – especially in connection with siting in pristine environments and considering impacts on vulnerable indigenous and local communities – are also key conflict drivers.

Mind the gap

There is also a global shortfall in infrastructure finance. Current investment is not keeping pace with the SDG 9 ambition to 'build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation'.

Investment required to deliver mega-projects such as China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative connecting Beijing with Brussels and branching into South Asian countries, may exceed available financial resources.

Globally we face a cumulative ‘infrastructure gap’ of up to $15 trillion between now and 2040. Above all, what is blocking investment is political, financial and environmental risk. And unless we address this risk, we will fail to secure much needed private sector investment to fill the gap.

As important as the scale of investment, are the 'how' and the 'where' of infrastructure. Incentivizing sustainability and creating 'bankable' projects that reduce risk by addressing environmental impact and utilizing natural services should be at the heart of our approach.

Beyond climate change

That infrastructure development is increasingly focused on tackling climate change is welcome but we need to go further.

Nature is worth an estimated $125 trillion to the global economy every year, providing us with a host of infrastructure services such as clean air and water, food, timber, flood protection and climate stability.

Such benefits come from complex living systems that not only need space to flow and develop but that are also under threat – the more we disrupt them, the more we need to spend on inferior, inflexible imitations of natural infrastructure just to stand still.

A road is not just a road. In Brazilian Amazonia, 95% of all deforestation occurs within 5.5 km of a paved or unpaved road, and in the montane forests of Southeast Asia, landslides are two to three times more frequent in terrain with roads than without.

Natural disasters caused by human ecosystem disruption and climate change already cost more than $300 billion per year. Droughts, floods and water pollution cost business $14 billion in 2016 – a five-fold increase over 2015.

Natural infrastructure services can enhance and sometimes replace built solutions while benefitting climate, biodiversity and resilience. Protecting coastal wetlands, for example, could save the insurance industry $52 billion annually through reduced flood damage losses.

In building the infrastructure of the future, we must respect all planetary boundaries, sustain essential ecosystem services and carefully blend infrastructure with natural landscapes.

Good governance

With approximately 75% of the infrastructure required by 2050 still to be built, we have an enormous opportunity to develop ‘hybrid’ infrastructure that combines natural and built systems in ways that allow people and planet to thrive.

This requires good governance that enables us to make wise choices and develop systemic solutions.

Africa in particular is at a critical juncture with its governments under pressure to provide food, water, energy and transport that meet the needs of a population set to double by 2050. Transport corridors, rapid urban expansion, land use change and agricultural development all present significant challenges.

Investment in projects that ignore the importance of existing ecological infrastructure and its contribution to economy and society risks reducing overall welfare if it sustains growth without poverty alleviation, increases pollution or promotes extractives and uneven development.

No two infrastructure projects are alike. Adopting early and comprehensive strategic planning based on sound science and meaningful social engagement will reduce risk, increase efficiencies, lower costs, spur investment and avoid costly changes.

Achieving sustainability requires an integrated landscape approach that accounts for complexity, assesses direct and indirect impacts, identifies synergies and ensures sustainability.

We need innovative design that reaches beyond urban centers, maintains nature’s connectivity and enables us to secure the services we need without relying on outdated, discredited and damaging approaches.

Practical solutions and good models exist. It is time we put in place the institutional capacity and governance that delivers at scale and drives a shift in global norms.

New Deal for Nature and People

We need a New Deal for Nature and People akin to the Paris Agreement on climate change that values and incentivizes public and private investment in nature.

Working together, as governments, financial institutions, businesses, NGOs and citizens, we might then re-imagine the complex built infrastructure systems we need in ways that empower local communities and that complement, harness and protect the extraordinary wealth of natural infrastructure systems we already have. 

  • Date: 08 November 2018
  • Author: Monica McBride, Manager for Food Waste at WWF

Walmart’s Project Gigaton is a supplier-focused initiative to prevent one gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions across their global supply chain over 15 years (2015-2030). Project Gigaton aims to inspire suppliers to reduce emissions across their own operations and supply chains.

There are six pillars of Project Gigaton through which suppliers can reduce emissions: energy, agriculture, forests, packaging, waste, and product use. World Wildlife Fund works with Walmart on several of these pillars to help suppliers reach their sustainability targets, and, in turn, further WWF’s conservation mission. In this blog, Monica McBride, Manager of Food Waste at WWF, shares why the waste pillar is so important to Project Gigaton.

How does food waste contribute to climate change and emissions outputs within a company’s supply chain?

The link between food waste and its impact on the environment is significant. Food production accounts for an estimated 70 percent of biodiversity loss, 70 percent of freshwater use and 50 percent of soil erosion. When we waste food, we also waste out all the intensive labor, land and resources that go into its production. Wasted food represents about eight percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is a main contributor to deforestation and the depletion of global water sources.

In fact, food waste actually helps contributes to climate change at two different phases in its life cycle.

First, the production of food requires land, fertilizer, water and other chemicals that collectively account for 25-35 percent of global GHGs – the single largest environmental impact of any human activity. And when you factor in the energy required to transport that food to market, the impact is even greater.

Second, the disposal of wasted food generates additional emissions. Organic waste that’s disposed of in landfills produces methane, which contributes 25-85 times more to global warming than carbon dioxide. Composting food is a better disposal option. Even though it also produces carbon dioxide, its overall impact on our climate is less than that of methane.

WWF’s No Food Left Behind report provides the latest data and context around North American post-harvest.

If a supplier has already set an emissions reduction goal, what is the value of joining Project Gigaton?

There is tremendous incentive for companies to join Project Gigaton, even if they’ve already charted their emissions reductions path. For one, it’s good for business. Companies can receive recognition for the good work their doing and get increased visibility and recognition for it. They also gain access to key resources that can help them achieve their goals and commit to even more ambitious targets in the years to come.

Importantly, when companies join Project Gigaton, they send a signal to other suppliers, including many of the smaller companies that may have otherwise been wary about reporting their waste numbers. Together, these companies can help generate the critical mass needed to shift the entire industry – and ultimately the entire private sector – toward more climate-smart business practices.

If a supplier is just starting out on their sustainability journey, what needs to be done to get them ready to join Project Gigaton? Who can help?

The question for companies to answer is: where do you sit along the food waste chain, and what is your specific point of impact? From there, the sustainability journey begins.

The first step for any company is to establish its food waste baseline. This is the only way for a company to truly understand its current impact and identify opportunities for improvement. From there, WWF recommends turning to the industry standards regarding food waste. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 — a global, collective 50 percent reduction in food waste by 2030 — should be the North Star for companies looking to set realistic goals. The Science-Based Target Initiative also offers some guidance on food waste reporting, along with other useful measures of supply chain efficiency.

Project Gigaton and experts like us at WWF can offer advice on setting – and meeting – these goals.  

The Project Gigaton website – and its section on waste in particular – makes it easy to start the process.

If a supplier is considering joining Project Gigaton and making a commitment for waste, should they also consider setting goals in other areas like energy and forests? What’s the value in signing up across the platform?

The impact of food waste isn’t just felt at the disposal end of the spectrum, so companies will be able to find areas of overlap.

For example, if you’re a food supplier working on the production end and have a direct impact on land use, there’s an inherent overlap with goals for agriculture. If you’re a transport company, you can look at waste for understanding your resource efficiency, while simultaneously setting fuel emissions goals.  
What resources are available to help those already committed, those looking to commit, and those who feel there’s an entry barrier for a supplier of their size.

There are many valuable resources to help companies that have already committed to Project Gigaton as well as companies that are looking to join. When it comes to food loss impact, World Resource Institute’s Food Loss and Waste Protocol is an excellent beginner’s resource on what to measure and how to measure it.  

To audit your waste footprint or track it over time, companies can turn to consulting firms that specialize in improved food management and are equipped to help address hot spots for food waste within manufacturing facilities.  

Can you give one example of a participating Project Gigaton supplier who is really leading the way in food waste?  

Taylor Farms is a strong example of a supplier that is making the most with the food they grow and harvest. Through innovative solutions they’re taking fresh and wholesome product that was no longer needed for its primary purpose of processed fruit and vegetable products and repurposing them into new product offerings like bagged slaws and kits. Taylor Farms is actively looking for opportunities to improve crop utilization, be it through donations, compost, animal feed, or waste to energy rather than turning to the landfill.

This blog is part of a series. Please see our Project Gigaton Q&A on forests here and on agriculture hereYou can join Project Gigaton by submitting your own emissions target, or by submitting goals that fall in one or more of the six pillars. Links to join can be found at: www.walmartsustainabilityhub.com/project-gigaton

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