World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

filtered by category: Climate

  • Date: 23 November 2022
  • Author: Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice President, Private Sector Engagement

Having just returned from COP27 in Egypt, I would like to share my reflections on the state of the climate dialogue. Food was back on the agenda this year in a major way. It’s an area where business can support solutions around sustainable agriculture, resilience, and land-use change. And while there was some progress overall at COP27, including a welcome step towards a loss and damage fund to help vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters, my biggest takeaway is that climate actions aren’t moving quickly enough.

Climate change could depress growth in global agriculture yields up to 30% by 2050. At COP27, we introduced, It’s Time: Solving the Great Food Puzzle for a 1.5° C Future, A WWF Food Manifesto. It calls for food-based climate action pledges to be implemented at the national and regional levels and identifies five decisive actions central to doing so. You can read about these actions here.

Without resilient agriculture, crop failures and food insecurity will likely lead to increased environmental degradation as agriculture shifts to new locations and communities exploit natural resources to accommodate lost livelihoods and incomes. This challenge is particularly acute in Africa.

WWF recently launched, Scaling and Accelerating Adaption in Food Systems in Africa, a report that assessed Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). It found that adaptation plans must be broadened to include shifts to healthier and more sustainable diets combined with radical cuts in food loss and waste alongside improved food production. Only by adopting full food systems approaches, from farm to fork, can we achieve food security and a stable climate. African countries must set more ambitious targets, but finance must also be allocated to the continent and channeled to the local communities that will implement solutions.

By narrowly focusing only on agricultural production, negotiations failed to deliver a transformative plan on food. Nature is humanity’s first line of defense against the impacts of climate change, but climate change itself poses an immediate and existential threat to our natural ecosystems –on which our food systems rely. Ecosystem services, such as pollination of crops, water filtration, flood mitigation, waste decomposition, carbon sequestration and climate regulation are worth approximately $125 trillion dollars annually, providing valuable economic benefits to agriculture, society and business. These economic externalities and system dynamics need to be reflected in policy and finance. There is still hope though that with a joint working group on agriculture and food security over the next four years, it is possible to increase the ambition and build a more holistic approach. Read more on WWF’s hopes for the work ahead here, as well as a joint open letter to negotiators and ministers from 100 organizations urging for more ambitious action to accelerate the transition to more equitable and sustainable food systems.

As U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry so eloquently stated in the run-up to Sharm el-Sheikh about the fight against climate change: “it’s not just the work of one government, or public or private sector, bilateral or multilateral. There’s only one way to secure the future. We have to summon the greatest effort we’ve ever assembled, with the greatest sense of urgency. And we must win this fight, because the alternative is beyond unacceptable.”

Unfortunately, a disappointing roadmap was released by 14 of the world’s largest agricultural companies to address deforestation associated with palm, beef, and soy production in biomes around the world. While the roadmap demonstrates progress for some commodities, it represents a step back for others and ultimately falls short of the 1.5° C pathway that was promised at last year’s COP. There’s a clear path for agricultural companies to shift food production to degraded land.

This message was sent by the newly elected Brazilian President, Lula da Silva, in his address at COP where he stated, “I am sure that Brazilian agri-business will be a strategic ally in our government looking for regenerative and sustainable agriculture. We have 30m hectares of degraded lands. We don’t need to deforest one square meter to be one of the largest food producers in the world.” And while a more sustainable agricultural model is a good step, nature-based solutions also need to be part of the equation.

 We have the opportunity to invest in nature to mitigate the worst effects of climate change as well as be prepared for changes that threaten our ecosystems and our economies. Using land for farming and conserving and restoring nature’s ability to provide multiple benefits, resources, and services is not mutually exclusive. As Secretary Kerry so adeptly noted, “the alternative is beyond unacceptable.”

For more on WWF’s take-aways from COP27, see our closing press release here.

  • Date: 19 September 2022

The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act is a bold step towards rapidly reducing U.S. emissions and limiting global warming, at a time when we really need to make swift strides towards our climate goals. Although the legislation doesn’t go quite far enough, it remains the biggest investment that the United States has ever made in clean energy and decarbonizing our economy.

To rapidly decarbonize and halve U.S. emissions by 2030, which is the goal that allows us to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we need leadership at every level of the economy. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), which represent a significant amount of job creation and economic activity in the U.S. are already taking steps to address climate change and build resilient business futures by reducing their emissions.

Alone, the impact of one small business appears minimal compared to the global climate challenge, especially next to the activity of the largest corporations and heaviest polluters. But together, SMEs make up 90% of businesses worldwide, affect the livelihoods of over two billion people, and drive innovation that reaches the biggest business leaders. That’s a force to be reckoned with.

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  • Date: 03 August 2022
  • Author: Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice President, Private Sector Engagement

The recent news of a deal on a Congressional budget reconciliation package that includes unprecedented federal investment focused on climate change and clean energy is an opportunity that cannot be missed.

To understand the urgency around addressing the climate crisis, look no further than the frequent and extreme storms and unprecedent heatwaves that we are experiencing this summer due in part to human-caused global warming. These past few months have been a window into the more dire impacts of climate change we can expect unless we limit warming to 1.5° C (2.7° F) according to a recent report by the United Nations.

Leading businesses are doing their part to address climate change by setting ambitious climate goals and tackling their own emissions. In fact, more than five dozen of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies have set climate goals approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). These are great first steps towards the global goal of halving emissions by 2030, but we need leadership from Washington to incentivize clean energy investment and supply chain decarbonization to achieve climate mitigation at scale.

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  • Date: 22 April 2022
  • Author: Marcene Mitchell and Sheila Bonini

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced a proposed rule that would require companies to include climate-related information in their regulated financial reporting, including in their annual 10-K statements. The climate-related disclosures would range from the company’s greenhouse gas footprint to climate risks and the strategies they are employing to mitigate the impact of climate change on their business.

WWF welcomes the SEC rule, particularly in light of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which makes clear the risk of inaction on climate change. The world has now reached 1.1°C of warming, and we’re already seeing enormous harm and damage to our communities, economy, human health, food and water security, and natural ecosystems. The report highlights the urgent need for a whole-of-society approach to staving off the worst effects of the climate crisis. The corporate disclosures required by the SEC’s proposed rule are an integral part of the solution.

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  • Date: 13 April 2022
  • Author: Julia Kurnik and Katherine Devine, World Wildlife Fund

Most agricultural methane emissions (around 70%) come from ruminants, such as cows and sheep. This is primarily due to manure and gastroenteric releases—or, simply put, cow burps. Most methane for cattle, particularly beef, is released in the grazing phase of the supply chain. When cattle roam for grazing, it is difficult to track methane release or to mitigate emissions due to the nature of grazing. Furthermore, scalability and traceability are challenging, particularly for small-scale grazing operations.

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  • Date: 12 April 2022
  • Author: By Julia Kurnik and Katherine Devine, World Wildlife Fund

Rice, one of the most abundant crops grown and consumed globally, makes up 12% of global methane emissions – and a staggering 1.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. When rice is harvested, a ton of rice stubble and straw is left behind for every ton of harvested rice – 750 million tons globally in 2015. Currently, to clear fields for future crops, farmers either burn the rice straw, which results in significant carbon dioxide emissions as well as methane, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and particulate matters, or they flood the field to encourage swift decay – which also leads to extensive methane emissions.

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  • Date: 11 April 2022
  • Author: Julia Kurnik and Katherine Devine, World Wildlife Fund

Global leaders in Glasgow recently signed the Global Methane Pledge and recognized that addressing methane emissions is imperative if we’re going to achieve a 1.5° C future. In fact, the IPCC calculates that methane emissions will need to drop 37% below 2017 levels by 2030 and 55% below 2017 levels by 2050 to keep that goal within range. At COP 26, President Biden announced the US will join a global coalition of more than 100 countries pledging to cut global methane levels by a minimum of 30% by 2030 and rolled out an action plan for US methane emissions reductions.

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  • Date: 09 February 2022
  • Author: Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People and Purpose Officer

Embedding climate consciousness into organizational culture can help attract and retain talent 

The Netflix film “Don’t Look Up,” which many of us have streamed while isolated at home, satirizes society’s inability to take swift action even in the face of the most dire threats. A not-so-subtle metaphor for the climate crisis, the movie struck a chord among those who are apprehensive about our collective future, and rightly so. With extreme weather events becoming more frequent, it is time to take bold action while there’s still time to limit the damage.

For businesses, beyond the fact that prioritizing environmental sustainability is the right thing to do for the planet, there are also clear business benefits in doing so. For one, we know that companies’ climate strategies have become increasingly important to today’s workers. Businesses that evolve operations and embed environmental, social, and governance (ESG) consciousness into workplace culture will be a step ahead in the race for talent in a highly competitive marketplace.

Most CxOs understand this. The recently released Deloitte 2022 CxO Sustainability Report: The disconnect between ambition and impact, a survey of 2,000+ C-suite executives across 21 countries, found that business leaders agree environmental-sustainability efforts have a positive impact on employee morale and well-being (84%), as well as employee recruitment and retention (77%).

Yet, according to Deloitte Global’s 2021 Millennial and Generation Z Survey, their employees may not be impressed. While climate change and protecting the environment is a top issue of concern among Gen Zs and millennials, less than half of millennials and Gen Zs Deloitte surveyed think business is having a positive impact on society. And about 60% fear that business’ commitment to the environment will be less of a priority as leaders focus on pandemic-related challenges.

So, where’s the disconnect?

While companies are acting—66% of those surveyed in the CxO Sustainability Report say their companies are increasing the efficiency of energy use, for example—they are less likely to implement more difficult, “needle-moving” activities that embed climate standards into their business ethos, such as developing new climate-friendly products or requiring suppliers and business partners to meet specific sustainability criteria. These “needle-moving” actions—along with others identified by Deloitte’s research—are indicators of broader and deeper climate ambition. Broader because they go beyond the four walls of the organization and deeper because they ingrain sustainable practices into their operations.

What can organizations do to turn their ambition into action, and action into impact? How can they evolve their climate commitments in ways that improve recruitment and retention?

They can start by educating senior leaders and the board on how to assess the impact of a changing climate on the business, as well as the business’ impact on the climate. Only then can they earn the broad senior leader buy-in and influence that will prompt “needle-moving” actions and effect meaningful transformation.

Businesses can also empower employees to act as climate changemakers. By engaging and educating employees on climate change impacts—decisions about what they consume, use, and buy—companies can help their people make positive climate choices at home and at work, while amplifying these actions through their personal networks.

Thinus Keevé, Chief Sustainability, Property and Export Officer at Australian supermarket chain Coles shares how their employees have felt the positive effects of transparency and participation, saying,

“Our team members tell us how proud they are of our sustainability work. They love it, they see it in stores, and they know what we are doing and how we are contributing.”

Ultimately, leaders that build on credible climate commitments and integrate sustainability into every part of the business will earn the trust of their stakeholders.

We’re in a decisive decade to act against climate change, and bold actions resulting in measurable impact are needed to accelerate the pace of intervention—while there’s still time to limit the damage. Organizations willing to “look up” and face climate challenges head-on not only can help improve our world, but they’ll also have an advantage in the battle for talent.


This post does not necessarily represent the views of WWF.

  • Date: 23 November 2021
  • Author: Melissa D. Ho, Senior Vice President, Fresh Water and Food, WWF

“When will leaders lead?” Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados asked on the opening day of COP 26. As this “Super Year” of global events, including the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Conference of Parties (COP), and the Climate COP 26, concludes, I ask myself, did leaders lead?

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  • Date: 20 October 2021
  • Author: Marcene Mitchell, Senior Vice President, Climate Change, WWF

In just under two weeks, the center of gravity for the climate crisis will be in Glasgow, Scotland at COP 26. The Paris Agreement’s over 190 signatories, along with NGOs, academics, corporations, and journalists will descend upon what was one of the most heavily industrialized cities in Europe, to talk about how to decarbonize the world economy.

One of the lingering questions the world will have is whether the United States is ready to be at the forefront of global leadership on climate. The Build Back Better Act, if Congress can pass it before the COP begins, could demonstrate its commitment, and be the herald that the U.S. is prepared to lead on climate.

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