In the leadup to Climate Week, WWF and its partners recognize that the world urgently needs to be made more resilient to climate change. The myriad challenges that climate change poses to agriculture, ecosystems, and communities demands action from a broad set of stakeholders, including the private sector. But many conservation and sustainability approaches are simply not enough today because they were designed for a climate that no longer exists. Achieving the conservation goals of the future requires a new approach where we are constantly adapting and building resilience—the inherent and continued ability to recover from shocks and stressors—in a future of constant change.
Collaboration with companies is essential to achieving these goals. They require a holistic approach where landscapes are the foundation for assessing risks and piloting solutions, and best practices are shared and scaled through global action. Companies that adopt a local-to-global, holistic approach can help deliver on their sustainability and shareholder commitments, safeguard their investments, and help countries meet their commitments for the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement.
To that end, WWF has developed three guiding principles that we encourage the private sector to follow when developing, supporting, and implementing resilience strategies:
1. Avoid harming nature
“Do no harm” is a basic but critical factor that must be front-and-center. All companies must reduce future harm to ecosystems and thoroughly analyze the impacts and trade-offs of their initiatives.
2. Use nature to help people
Resilience strategies should consider the critical benefits that nature can provide for people – protection from coastal flooding, ground water recharge, soil retention, pollination, and more -- and take steps to ensure stakeholders are invested in successful outcomes.
3. Help nature adapt
Companies must design strategies that allow nature to adapt to the growing changes around us. They should take an active role in ensuring the continued prosperity and stability of natural resources, wildlife, and ecosystems for all people.
WWF and our corporate partners are working together to show what this can look like in action. For example, The Coca-Cola Company is working with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures to assess risks of climate change to their business, with Business for Social Responsibility to establish industry strategy to address the risks, and with WWF to work on the ground and realize large-scale resilience-building. With WWF’s Resilience Principles at the forefront, WWF is working with The Coca-Cola Company to identify processes and interventions in the MesoAmerican Reef that can build landscape resilience to negative impacts of climate change. These impacts include crop loss, encroachment on and shrinking protected areas, water scarcity, and increased social conflict in Guatemala.
WWF works to help our partners:
• Develop a deep understanding of current climate change impacts and future risks to people, agriculture, and nature at the landscape scale, including the critical benefits nature provides to support resilience for local communities – ecosystem services like water provision, flood risk reduction, soil fertility.
• Take a participatory, multi-stakeholder-based approach to prioritize, design, and test adaptation and resilience innovations.
• Disseminate and scale lessons learned from this process across the company’s global reach and industry, and make social-ecological resilience approaches mainstream practice
Major companies have the opportunity to lead with their own resilience strategies, but to be successful they cannot operate in a vacuum. Companies must collaborate with environmental organizations, governments, financial institutions and – perhaps most importantly – other companies. We need to share best practices, pool funds, coordinate, and collaborate. Only together can we act at a scale equal to the problems we face.