World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

filtered by category: Climate Change

  • Date: 28 March 2019
  • Author: John Marler, Vice President, Energy & Environment, AEG

This Saturday, March 30 at 8:30 p.m. local time, millions of people, companies and municipalities around the world will celebrate Earth Hour. They will turn out their lights in solidarity for the fight against climate change and renewing their commitment toward protecting our planet.

As the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company, AEG believes we have an opportunity to use our business assets and influence to create positive change in the world.  Through our worldwide network of more than 150 venues, we entertain more than 100 million guests annually, and what better way to raise awareness for this important initiative than to add our venues to the list of iconic structures that will join the global Earth Hour movement?

2019 marks the 10th year that AEG’s is celebrating Earth Hour. We’ve made this an annual tradition because we believe that sustainability is a shared endeavor, touching everyone in all organizations and all corners of the globe.  Through our environmental sustainability program, AEG 1EARTH, are working hard to conserve more, use less, source responsibly and find better ways to work.

But this year’s Earth Hour event takes on an even more urgent tone, in light of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recent report on global warming. According to the report, as a global society, we have less than 12 years to make “unprecedented” changes to our way of life or face increasingly dire consequences.  Just last month, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization released a report explaining that global loss of biodiversity from habitat and ecosystem degradation is threatening the world’s food supplies, as just nine species account for 66% of total crop production. 

John Marler AEG (002)

John Marler is the Vice President for Energy & Environment at AEG

In April, we will release our eighth sustainability report which outlines our progress towards our science-based climate goal, our risk-based potable water conservation goal, and our waste diversion goal. We’ll share our successes and business challenges, including the completion of the nation’s largest solar installation at a municipally-owned convention center, the launch of our employee-driven sustainability advocacy program and our work to reduce single-use plastics throughout our operations.

While our sustainability efforts are ongoing, we celebrate Earth Hour to unite and stand with others around the world. In Shanghai, the Mercedes-Benz Arena will turn off its lights and work with artist Fei Yuqing on Earth Hour activations during his concert. In Los Angeles, L.A. LIVE, STAPLES Center and the Microsoft Theater will be dimming unnecessary lights and promoting Earth Hour through their social media channels. And in Australia, ICC Sydney will black out two-thirds of the venue with messaging to the public and employees. These are just a few examples of what we’ll doing on March 30 in support of Earth Hour – we hope you join us!

 

 

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of WWF.

  • Date: 01 January 2019
  • Author: Jason Clay, SVP Markets, Exec Director of the Markets Institute

The Markets Institute at WWF identifies global issues, trends, and tools around the most pressing challenges of our time. Each year we release a list of what we see as the top emerging industry developments that may not be apparent to help stakeholders stay ahead of the curve, and to help us all shift faster.

The lists are identified through research, interviews, data analysis, and discussions with our Thought Leader Group. Here are the top issues, trends, and tools to keep an eye on in 2019:

ISSUES

Normalization of hate and racism

There is an increase in the acceptance of hate and racism globally, but most notably of all in the US. When those in power are guilty of such actions it empowers everyone with similar feelings to speak out openly and, all too often, aggressively. This polarizes societies. Historically such episodes have been more frequent during periods of economic uncertainty. As groups blame others for their plight, if they have power, they will use existing institutions to enforce their views. However, at least in the US, it is now likely that this will become a flashpoint, as those preaching hate are in the minority, and issues will boil over if sparked.

Animal protein is the new coal

There is some evidence that animal protein is becoming the new coal. Several donors, NGOs, and researchers are attacking animal protein from a variety of perspectives including animal welfare, environmental impacts, and human health. The EAT/Lancet Report will further polarize the issue as many around the world will look at the research behind the report as biased and selected to push a particular type of diet without understanding why people eat what they do much less the role different proteins, nutrients and minerals play in diets as well as the tradeoffs. But mostly people don’t like to be told what to eat, especially not by the privileged.

EU will act on global deforestation

The EU will begin to act against deforestation at a governmental and trade level. There are a few issues that will likely inform this discussion before all is said and done. For many in the global South, EU countries have deforested for millennia—there is very little old-growth forest left—so this move will be seen as hypocrisy at best or at worst the global South will be “paying for” the GHG emissions of the global North. Taking illegal deforestation off the table is simple and WTO compliant. Taking all deforestation out of trade is more problematic. It is difficult to understand how such a trade policy would be WTO compliant given that the PPM (production, processing, and manufacturing) mechanism does not allow countries to discriminate against products based on how they are produced. The issue is likely to be even more complicated because many EU countries have forests and other natural habitat that might become suitable for food production as climate change shifts things North.

Wealth & conspicuous consumption

Wealth has probably been around for as long as people. Prized possessions have been found in burials after tens of thousands of years. However, as societies evolved and became more sedentary—as well as differentiated and stratified—wealth became associated with different groups. Today, as global incomes are rising, most people can have more wealth than previous generations. What is happening now, however, is that wealth and conspicuous consumption are coming together—people are what they have. This is leading to consumption that drives others who see it to consume more. We need to find meaning in our lives other than the acquisition of things.

Economic growth as THE issue

You manage what you measure. Economic growth has become the single indicator of global prosperity. But, despite strong economic growth for some time, far too many still live in poverty. The management model doesn’t seem to be working, and the price is to clear—depletion of natural resources, the stubborn maintenance of malnutrition, and the wealth gap widening in most countries. The planet and the poor cannot afford too many more decades like the last ones. We need to delink prosperity from economic growth, or, put another way, have prosperity that doesn’t leave so many behind? As long as economic growth measures only productivity, output, and profit—with no accounting for natural resources, poverty, malnourishment, and human rights, or everyone’s ability to achieve their potential—then we are measuring the wrong things.

TRENDS

Declining political influence of the West

There has been a noticeable decline in the roles played by both the US and the EU politically as well as economically. In part this is due to specific leaders, but it is also part of a backlash against global systems and undue influence of so few at the expense of others. There are far more bi-lateral negotiations now than global ones about politics, security, trade, and even environmental issues. This will continue, especially through South to South negotiations.

Shift of ag biotech to the Mississippi

While the undisputed global tech leader is still Silicon Valley and the Bay Area more generally, there is currently a lot of investment in the US Midwest, especially in the Mississippi River Valley in cities such as St. Louis, Memphis, and Kansas City. However, these regions have a long way to go to catch up with the work, particularly in genetics, at UC-Davis and UC-Berkeley, and no less so then global leader Beijing Genomic Institute in China.

Freshwater grows scarcer

There are already a couple of dozen countries experiencing chronic freshwater shortages. This is likely to worsen with more people, more demands on water sources, unpredictable impact of climate change and weather variability on water availability. We are going to have to get better at recharging aquifers as well as capturing and storing freshwater from homes and cities to the country level as well. We are going to have to cut the total water used to produce food (which should be relatively easy as so much irrigation water is wasted), as well as be more efficient in personal and industrial water use. As water scarcity mounts, the value will go up, and this will drive efficiency.

Global conversations about diet get uglier

Nobody likes to be told what they should eat. Global conversations about diet have become galvanized around the idea of healthy parameters for both people and planet, especially in countries where food security is not perceived to be an issue. There is an increasing chasm in the discussions between the "haves" vs. the "have nots" in the global food system. As the science evolves, we need to ensure that both issues are addressed—how those without access to food and nutrition can get it, as well as determining the more sustainable and affordable nutrient sources for people and the planet. Changes in food values are shifting the debate's focus from production to consumption.

Climate migration

In retrospect, many see the migrations out of the Middle East and North Africa into Europe as the first mass migrations that resulted from climate change. For others, it was smallholders in Central America who were forced to flee their farms because they no longer produced enough coffee or corn to feed their families. Climate-induced migration has already begun, and it will continue in virtually every part of the planet, though it may often be attributed to other causes. We will need to address displacement and food security while we are addressing climate change.

TOOLS

Green bonds for reforestation

Green bonds are instruments recognized by organizations from the World Bank to private financial entities, corporations, pension funds, and governments as a tool that can be issued to finance projects or activities that have a positive impact on climate or the environment. Most green bonds are structurally identical to more conventional bonds, but they are distinguished by the green uses they are put to, e.g. green infrastructure, renewable energy, rehabilitation of degraded land for farming, reforestation, regenerative agricultural practices, etc. They also have generally the same ratings as the entities that issue them.

Fake news goes mainstream

The old adage, trust but verify, has never been truer. It is hard to trust anything that is heard firsthand without first verifying it, but verification is also getting harder. Presumably, freedom of speech and freedom of the press gives one the right to speak or publish without fear of being censored, but it does not abdicate the responsibility of knowing that what you are printing holds true. When the untruths and distortions affect elections, public policies, institutions, health, and safety or target specific groups for persecution we know this tool has been weaponized. As global as we have become, most people get their information from family and friends who all get it from the internet and social media. In the past the media had fact checkers. Social media use algorithms, but they are not working.

Machine learning and AI—tools to separate signal from noise, smoke from fire

There is considerable evidence that machine learning can be applied to many different parts of the economy and greatly improve overall management, and they will start to take the food system by storm—from producers to consumers. Two question questions come up very quickly: 1) Who owns the data; 2) will some of the poorest producers and rural laborers benefit from machine learning or be displaced by it? It’s a pity that one of the global trends isn’t increased public spending for education in farming and rural communities. If that happened more people would have other options and not as many would be forced to make their living from farming.

It's time to work more collaboratively in making tech help us all learn more quickly about how reducing impacts in ag. Smartphones to train farmers, get them access to finance, collect and share data, reduce waste, and share farm equipment. Farmers can now time their delivery to process plants to reduce waste and obtain higher prices. We need to adapt or create similar tools and learning systems for carbon management and measurement, risk management, traceability, and transparency along the entire value chain, not just where it is easiest.

Emissions incentives for producers

In 2018, awareness about the role of agriculture, forestry, and land use in climate change began to pick up steam. How will conversations on food systems and land use as both contributors to and solutions for the climate crisis continue to evolve? How will the impacts of extreme weather and climate change on agriculture affect our ability to feed everyone in a world of increasing nationalism and protectionism? One thing is for sure, we need more carrots and fewer sticks if we are to find voluntary ways to reduce GHG emissions and sequester carbon in the food system. Low cost food comes at a high price to both producers and the planet.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a food and resource security strategy dressed up as a global development program. It’s clear China is using development assistance to line up access to a supply of farmland and natural resources for decades to come. In addition to the infrastructure, China is using 99-year leases on land to farm where farming has never happened (e.g. the grasslands of Inner Asia). While this is smart for China, is it smart for the countries and the businesses that are the beneficiaries of this global strategy? Only time will tell—but it is certainly worth watching as this strategy unfolds.

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Stay tuned for what else we see this year, and help us keep an eye on the horizon.

If you haven't already, sign up for our weekly update to see how these trends evolve.

  • Date: 10 October 2018

It’s no secret that as the world’s population continues to rise, so does our demand on its resources. Between growing incomes and the need to feed more people, the rate of consumption will continue to far outpace the systems necessary to manage this consumption. Because our waste systems simply can’t keep up, uncollected or leaked waste will continue to wreak havoc on the environment. Litter doesn’t just affect the beauty of our environment – it affects the health of ecosystems, biodiversity, and humans alike.

At World Wildlife Fund (WWF) we work to stop the flow of waste into nature, but we realize that changes are needed earlier in the material management system to eliminate the potential for massive downstream effects even before they become an issue. We need to develop innovative solutions that work to improve the entire system from the earliest stages of product development.

WWF’s Cascading Materials Vision is the foundation for what a holistic material management solution looks like. We’ve recently joined the NextGen Cup Consortium, led by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy and in cooperation with founding partners Starbucks and McDonalds, to help bring part of this vision to life through a multi-year initiative.

Launching this week is the Consortium’s inaugural initiative, the NextGen Cup Challenge, which will seek to transform one of the most recognizable single-use items: the paper cup. The challenge, managed by OpenIDEO, aims to catalyze ideation and action leading to the adoption of a new, sustainable, single-use cup that can be recycled or composted on a global scale. 

The challenge will analyze the cup as part of the larger system it fits into and designers will strive to create a new fiber cup that is one part of a more sustainable global waste management strategy.

While single-use cups are only part of our waste problem, this challenge is the Consortium’s first step in revolutionizing the recovery of materials in the packaging industry.

Why is this challenge necessary?

Most paper cups distributed today are sent to a landfill. Therefore, a critical piece of the challenge is designing a cup that can be recovered at the highest scale globally and across a range of regions that have different infrastructure systems. Ultimately the greenest cup is the one you bring with you, but until this practice becomes a cultural norm, we need to make sure our fast-moving consumer cups have minimal environmental impacts.

We produce over 250 billion paper cups each year. While these cups must always meet health and safety standards and be convenient, lightweight, printable, durable, and functional across a wide range of temperatures, there has never been enough pressure to source and produce these cups in a sustainable way. This challenge is necessary because the current cup is created and used on such a large scale that it has enormous waste management impacts. In addition, we are wasting valuable resources that could be given new life and we are constantly demanding virgin materials to produce more cups.

Technically, traditional paper cups (as well as almost anything), can be recycled if broken down physically or chemically. However, for recycling to actually occur on a meaningful scale, there must be value for the recovered material. The economics of recovery must be such that the value of the re-processed material is still higher than the costs of re-processing. In addition, there needs to be a large enough volume of the specific material to make it profitable. Therefore, the more uniformity in sustainable packaging materials, the easier it will be for a global system to recapture the value of the material.

Why is WWF involved?

Progress towards a global system of material recovery is exceptionally difficult due to the scale of the issue and the number of stakeholders that must be involved to achieve meaningful results. WWF not only recognizes the scale of this problem but also the enormous potential for positive change. As the world population grows, so does demand for goods and packaging and our natural resources suffer. Items such as paper cups are thrown away every day without regard to their potential value in a circular economy. Recovering materials such as single-use fiber cups means taking advantage of an opportunity to do more with less.

WWF serves as an advisory partner on the NextGen Cup Challenge because we look at environmental issues from a broad and comprehensive lens. WWF will provide guidance throughout the competition to ensure that as one environmental issue is being solved, others are not created. WWF’S ability to recognize and evaluate tradeoffs will help inform decisions made by the NextGen Cup Consortium and the team at WWF is already at work helping establish the criteria for a successful and sustainable fiber cup.

Join the challenge! Here’s how:

The NextGen Cup Challenge will officially launch on October 9 when entrepreneurs, designers, and companies are encouraged to submit proposals. Several phases, including reviews and refinement, will occur before the top ideas are announced in February 2019.

Moving Forward

The NextGen Consortium is actively looking to partner with other companies, as they recognize that increased support from other partners will trigger market signals that reverberate throughout the entire value chain. The paper cup is one of those challenging single use items whose re-design for recovery can open the door for wide-scale recovery of other single-use packaging. We know that the global solution to material waste will not be successful through individual attempts at solutions. We must collaborate on a systems approach to maximize our collective potential for success. We believe that, by inviting the full suite of actors to the table, the NextGen Consortium is talking strides towards a promising solution to single-use material waste.

To stay informed as the NextGen Cup challenge progresses, check out https://nextgenconsortium.com

  • Date: 13 September 2018
  • Author: Sam Arons, Director of Sustainability at Lyft

Since 2017, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been part of Lyft’s Round Up & Donate program, which gives Lyft riders the option to round up their fare to the next dollar and donate the difference to WWF.

This year, Lyft’s been working to reduce its carbon footprint. As the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) takes place in San Francisco this week, WWF caught up with Lyft’s Director of Sustainability, Sam Arons, to learn more about the company’s commitments.

Sam Arons blue

Why does Lyft care about its environmental impact and making climate commitments?

Lyft was founded on the belief that technology will enable us to dramatically reduce carbon emissions from the transportation system while improving quality of life and access to opportunity for all Americans. We’re more determined now than ever before to make that vision a reality. We now give more than 10 million rides a week - and as we continue to grow, we have a greater responsibility to dedicate material resources to our vision and values.

In the future, all vehicles will be electric and operate using clean electricity. But climate change is not waiting. It’s happening now, and it presents a clear and immediate threat to our world and those who live in it. Action cannot wait. That's why we took the important steps to immediately offset the carbon emissions from all rides globally - and earlier this week, we announced that Lyft is now a fully carbon neutral company. We have also committed to purchase enough renewable energy to cover the electricity consumption of every Lyft office space, driver hub, and electric vehicle mile on our platform.

These actions are not the full solution, but an important step forward. By committing significant financial resources to these efforts, we’re building into our business a strong incentive to pursue shared rides and the displacement of gasoline-powered vehicles. The more shared rides and clean vehicles on the platform, the fewer carbon offsets we will need to purchase.

As a company whose business model relies on cars, what steps are you taking to reduce emissions?

Back in April, just before Earth Day, Lyft announced that we would be offsetting the carbon emissions from our rides And this week for GCAS, we’ve doubled down on that commitment by announcing that Lyft is now a fully carbon neutral company, and that we’re covering 100% of our electricity consumption, including EV charging, with renewable energy.  What we’ve effectively done is imposed a carbon price on ourselves as a way to drive CO2 out of our business. We’re excited about this for a few reasons. First of all, we think it’s important to take responsibility for our environmental impact, and this was a way to step up and do that right away.

How do you plan to achieve your carbon offset commitment?

When we started this project, we obtained a partner to help us build a portfolio of offset projects that would be in the right places and volumes to offset all ride emissions. These offset projects were selected after rigorous vetting. That’s how we kicked off the project. Since the announcement and selecting the projects, we have been buying the offsets on an ongoing basis to cover the emissions as they occur.

Do you work with others across industry? If so, what steps are you taking to drive the industry forward?

“We’re already starting to have the conversations that will bring a whole ecosystem of different players together to achieve this electrified future.”

Sam Arons
Director of Sustainability at Lyft

Lyft is part of several different industries, two major ones being the transportation industry and the tech industry. It’s important to us to work across both, and with our colleagues in local and state governments. One area where this will be particularly important is with electric vehicles. EVs will be a very important piece in the future of our sustainability program at Lyft. At the end of the day, it’s good to be offsetting carbon emissions, and we’re very proud that we’re doing that, but that can’t be the ultimate answer. We need to eliminate emissions to begin with rather than emit and then have to offset. To do that, we’ll need all our rides to be in electric vehicles that are charged from renewable energy to have no emissions at all. Achieving this will require working with auto manufacturers who will be the ones to create more models of vehicles that have sufficient range for a ride-sharing application – about 200 miles at a minimum. We’ll also work with electric utilities who will provide the grid infrastructure that can support more charging stations, and with third-party charging providers to get those stations deployed. And we’ll need to work with state and local governments on permitting and placement of charging stations. We’re already starting to have the conversations that will bring a whole ecosystem of different players together to achieve this electrified future.
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The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of WWF.

  • Date: 13 September 2018
  • Author: Steve Easterbrook, CEO, McDonald's and Carter Roberts, President & CEO, World Wildlife Fund

With each passing day, the world awakens to growing evidence that investing in sustainable business practices, clean energy and climate-smart agriculture isn’t just best for the planet – it’s good for companies and consumers.

This week, the Global Climate Action Summit – the first-ever global summit focused on non-federal climate leadership – kicks off in San Francisco. The Summit will bring business leaders together with mayors, governors and others from across the globe to share knowledge and chart a new path for climate ambition.

For businesses, this means committing to ambitious climate targets and crafting concrete plans to meet them. Earlier this year McDonald’s became the first global restaurant company to adopt a science-based climate target, which aims to prevent an estimated 150 million metric tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere by 2030. Science based targets help companies identify how much and how quickly they need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to align with the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping the increase in average global temperatures below 2° Celsius (3.56° Fahrenheit). More than 125 companies have already adopted them, and more than 335 have committed to do so. But many more have yet to sign on.

The world’s largest companies can help lead the way. By becoming early adopters, they can help shift entire industries toward more sustainable practices and drive results on a scale that matters. 

McDonalds letter

As printed in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 13 2018

Of course, setting targets is one thing. Meeting them is another. Strategies to meet climate targets will vary from sector to sector, but two in particular present exciting opportunities: shifting to renewable energy sources and adopting smarter land-use policies.

Large companies can leverage their collective buying power to directly purchase renewable energy to power their operations. Or, if they purchase electricity through a local utility, they can demand that their utility offer more renewable energy options. For example, there are over 20 special utility renewable energy options across 15 states, with large companies playing a big role in helping develop many of them. By driving a transformation of the electricity system, companies can help promote and scale renewable energy sources, all while reaping considerable savings and growing jobs.

How companies and their suppliers use land presents an effective and relatively untapped solution to climate change. From global food production and consumption, to forest management and infrastructure development, these practices produce 12 billion tons of emissions globally each year – greater than the emissions from cars, planes, trains, trucks and ships combined. But a new approach to land use that focuses on long term sustainability and growth instead of immediate, short-term returns can achieve 30 percent of the emissions reductions needed to fulfill the Paris Agreement. For example, companies can promote climate-friendly agricultural practices like cover crops and no-till farming. And they can help address supply chain impacts on deforestation.

Hundreds of companies like McDonald’s – along with the cities, states, regions and countries where they operate – have already begun to implement these solutions, and many others. More than 3,000 of these climate leaders have committed to helping America, and beyond, fulfill its pledges under the Paris Agreement as part of the We Are Still In coalition. Collectively, we represent half of American citizens and about half of the country’s total economic output.

The Global Climate Action Summit provides business leaders and others with the opportunity to learn from one another and commit to more aggressive goals. We urge business leaders around the world to join the move toward science-based climate targets, and to embrace renewable energy and land use solutions that will help them meet those targets. Together, we can strengthen our environment and foster a safe, sustainable planet for future generations. 

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This was originally published as an open letter in the San Francisco Chronicle.

  • Date: 01 January 2018
  • Author: Jason Clay, SVP Markets, Exec Director of the Markets Institute

The Markets Institute at WWF identifies global issues, trends, and tools around the most pressing challenges of our time. Each year we release a list of what we see as the top emerging industry developments that may not be apparent to help stakeholders stay ahead of the curve, and to help us all shift faster.

The lists are identified through research, interviews, data analysis, and discussions with our Thought Leader Group. Here are the top issues, trends, and tools to keep an eye on in 2018:

ISSUES

Trade wars

With the recent resurfacing of nationalism around the world, we should expect an increase in trade wars as countries use trade to negotiate many different issues including global parity around cost of production as well as positioning countries to support domestic political platforms and constituencies. If/when trade wars come to include food—whether to close borders entirely or even just limit exports—then it will most certainly cause environmental impacts.

Plastics and food waste

The rush to limit plastic in the environment and particularly plastic ending up in the oceans is unprecedented. The full extent of the environmental impacts of plastic are only beginning to be understood. However, plastic does have several benefits, especially when it comes to food in terms of both safety and improved storage life. We need to be careful that we don’t move so far to remove plastics that we begin to increase food loss and waste. We need to find ways to recreate the benefits and convenience of plastic, or we need to find ways to keep plastics out of the environment or both.

From traceability to transparency

For several years, companies have become more and more interested in where their products are produced. Certification and verification systems do this (to some extent), but they are expensive and often proprietary, so many different systems have been created including—but not limited to—Blockchain. The traceability systems, however, rarely go all the way to the farm where production happens, or even further back to feed and other inputs. And now companies are beginning to realize that it is probably more important to know how the product is produced as where it is produced.

The rise of urban and controlled environment agriculture

There are hundreds of vertical, soilless agriculture operations in the US and thousands around the world. These operations offer the opportunity of producing food in urban areas, in food deserts, and in areas with severe water shortages. They also have the potential to reduce food loss and increase shelf life. While the number of species grown is still rather small and dominated by leafy greens, it is broadening. The cost of production remains high, but the operations are akin to that of solar and wind power in the 1970s. As the industry grows and people innovate, the costs will go down and these systems will be more affordable and more versatile. Even better if the actors can share knowledge on certain technology and grow more quickly through collaboration.

Finance resilience

The impacts of climate change, both chronic and extreme weather events, have occurred more quickly than anyone thought. We are already seeing undeniable impacts on production, livelihoods, and nutrition. Two places where this is most pronounced are with smallholder producers of tree crops: cocoa in West Africa and coffee in Central America. Many producers are beginning to struggle as their products and production systems falter in the face of unpredictable rains and drought and the spread of pests and diseases. Governments have generally reduced funding for food and agriculture just when they need to be increasing it. Companies need to find ways to invest in the producers in their supply chains not just for traceability and transparency but also for resiliency.

Cyber warfare, food security
To date, cyber-attacks have largely ignored food and food security targets. However, as food delivery via e-commerce platforms grows, the potential for cyber-attacks increases. As trade becomes more politicized, food production also becomes a bigger target. Finally, as food productions increasingly depends on electricity or digitally based systems for irrigation, feeding, or detection, cyber warfare targeting food systems will become a lot more common.

TRENDS

Food e-commerce

E-commerce for food has grown considerably in recent years. It started with fast food delivery services like pizza in the US. But it has expanded to include uncooked food home delivery, mostly in China starting with Alibaba, and then on to the US with Amazon, Blue Apron, and more. Some grocery retailers have been delivering food for over a decade and they are stepping up the pace to compete. This trend will only expand.

Changing consumption patterns

Consumption patterns have shifted for as long as people have been exposed to different foods and types of cuisine. This of course increased as mass transportation became more common, and it has increased even more as social media has connected people around the world through food. Today, health and nutrition concerns, as well as age also influence consumption. However, as food becomes more global and even niche markets can be quite large, global finance is also increasing the pace and scale of change. When coupled with high net worth individuals with strong food preferences and opinions, even more funding becomes available.

M&A over R&D

In the face of climate change, the rise of nationalism and increasing trade wars, companies are investing increasing amounts in mergers and acquisitions and less in research and development. It is cheaper to buy innovation and market share than it is to build it out from scratch. There are simply too many things that can be relevant to a viable company today than ever before.

Go North (or South), young man

Climate change is driving chronic changes in crop growing zones, winter freezes, and average rainfall as well as increasing extreme weather like hurricanes, droughts, floods, fires, and dust bowls. Crops are moving North in North America but also in Europe and Asia, and South in Africa and Latin America. And habitat conversion continues and GHG emissions increase.

Precompetitive platform uptake

The number of precompetitive platforms has increased rapidly as companies begin to realize that many of the most important issues they must address are shared with others, as are the solutions. Sustainability is a precompetitive issue. Companies are responsible for what they do directly, however, most of the biggest impact of food products are where and how raw materials are produced and then consumed. What happens in the middle has fewer impacts. No company can solve production and consumption issues alone. Climate change and other crises will spur more collaboration.

TOOLS

Common protein and nutrition metrics

As questions on healthier and more nutritious diets become more common, calories will no longer be a sufficient metric for malnourishment. We need a common set of metrics to compare proteins and other key nutrients from very different kinds of foods so that we can compare apples to apples, so to speak. Many plants have proteins—are they the right ones? Many animal proteins have nutrients—are they the right ones? At what ages are different proteins and nutrients most important in human lives? How many of these proteins and nutrients already exist in household gardens of local communities and indigenous people but have never been studied by science? Is there a way to create averages or ranges, or is every individual truly unique?

CRISPR & gene editing

CRISPR and other types of gene editing allow for the selection and replication of traits that already exist within a genome, e.g. productivity, flavor profiles, and nutrient density. However, they are also tools that can be used to help make organisms more resilient in the face of climate change, e.g. drought or heat tolerance, disease resistance, or geographic and conditional variation. These same tools can be used to create GMOs, but their benefits can also come from working on single species. Whether that happens or not in some geographies will depend on if gene editing within a species is considered a GMO or not. Portable DNA sequencers are another genetic tool to keep an eye on, with potential for hunting down pests, testing for viruses, and bringing science directly into the hands of farmers.

Agrobots and tech

There have been a plethora of new robotic and other technology developments along the value chain. Drones monitor field conditions including soil moisture, plant health, and disease outbreaks at a fraction of the costs of humans, and very quickly with higher levels of certainty. Tractors drive themselves while also geo-spatially monitoring seeding rates and fertilizer applications, herbicide applications and pest issues, and productivity tied back to inputs used. Agrobots can be used to help determine optimal harvest times and increasingly, harvesting can be automated. Finally, distribution centers are automated and home food deliveries can be made by bots. There’s no question this will be a multibillion dollar industry in short order, but how it will impact labor and if/when it will price some farmers out of the business remains to be seen.

Science-based targets for supply chains

Many companies are making commitments to reduce GHG emissions to help limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. They have started with scope 1 emissions (what they produce themselves onsite) and scope 2 emissions (the energy they purchase). However, in the food industry, scope 3 emissions (how raw materials are produced upstream and how products are consumed) are by far the largest contribution. As we have seen with other certification programs, making commitments is one thing, making change happen is quite another. If the food sector is going to make a meaningful contribution to prevent climate change, we need to find the right incentives.


Social media and misinformation

Social media has allowed the spread of misinformation at unprecedented levels. Couple that with the fact that more people seem to be driven by their own opinions or those of trusted friends than they are by science, and there’s a perfect storm of misinformation. This is a minefield for anyone interested in science-based solutions for the world’s most pressing problems, but it is increasingly difficult for government and the private sector to navigate this space. Social media and the underlying technology are powering the spread of misinformation, and at the end of the day the platforms intended to bring us together are leading to social polarization.

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  • Date: 25 September 2017
  • Author: Martha Stevenson

Recent months have witnessed a whirlwind of debate in the bioenergy space, with letters signed by academics on both sides, white papers and responses wielded between think tanks, civil society and industry groups squaring off in special reports, and a hung Science Advisory Board of the EPA unable to make a determination about their guidance on biogenic carbon accounting. It has been a confusing time, even for the experts.

At WWF, we follow these debates and review the scientific literature to inform our position, which is then grounded in the expert field experience of our global network. For those of you seeking to green-up your energy supply and navigate these confusing times, here is our best advice when it comes to bioenergy, while understanding that new studies are coming out every week and that the IPCC won’t issue their guidance on national inventories until 2019.

Use sources of sustainable renewable energy first.

If you are in a sector where there are commercially viable low/no-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels and bioenergy (e.g., solar[1], wind, geothermal) use those first and get creative on how to shift as much energy demand as you can to those systems through electrification. If you are in a sector where these solutions are not commercially viable (e.g., industrial process energy or aviation) then we have two additional pieces of advice.

Only use bio feedstocks that deliver significant climate benefits over fossil fuels and without compromising biodiversity.

The most important question to WWF in the bioenergy debate is “What types of bioenergy provide a significant climate benefit over fossil fuels and do not significantly impact biodiversity?” The first point is crucial given that there are types of bioenergy that, whilst technically ‘renewable’, can have higher impacts on climate change than the fossil sources they replace[2]. Additionally, the connection between climate and biodiversity is important to understand, because the concept of mitigating trade-offs is not so simple.[3] Climate change will have negative impacts on biodiversity and maintaining biodiversity will increase ecosystem resilience to climate change. A benefit to one at the expense of the other is not a sound solution.

With this as context, our cautious recommendation is to look to industrial or municipal wastes and byproducts that are available for energy production, while applying an approach of cascading use[4]. These classes of biomaterials do not increase harvest levels, are unlikely to cause displacement affects (i.e. remove feedstocks from other industries) or further impact soil or biodiversity conditions. These are the lower risk feedstocks for supply, but need to be assessed on a case by case basis while considering local supply, production management practices and potential alternative uses. Before investing in bioenergy infrastructure or long term contracting, develop a rigorous sourcing policy consistent with the above, including what feedstocks are acceptable and conduct an assessment of the availability of policy-compliant, bioenergy feedstocks for the duration of the project.

Assumptions of carbon neutrality leave you exposed to serious risk.

WWF supports life-cycle carbon accounting for any technology that is making climate benefit claims, so that the true impacts are understood and informed decision-making can occur. Assumptions of carbon neutrality limit your understanding of the system and the potential risks, leading to poor decision-making and unwise investments. Given the growing awareness amongst policy makers of the sustainability concerns relating to many types of biomass, they are also subject to significant regulatory risk. We would like to see more companies calculating and reporting their biogenic carbon emissions, including (when important): land use change; impacts to all five carbon pools; forgone sequestration and for forest ecosystems[1] carbon debt over a climate-relevant timescale. Calculation methodologies exist to do all of this and their intent is to understand the full picture of climate impacts, so we can design energy transitions in line with a less than 2-degree future.

There are not many simple answers on this topic given the interlinkage between climate impacts and competing land uses, including biodiversity, but these difficult challenges need to be addressed. WWF will continue to look to the science and engage constructively with other stakeholders to grapple with these complex trade-offs.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

 [1] Check out Quantis’ Guidance on calculating Land Use Change https://quantis-intl.com/lucguidance/ https://about.bnef.com/blog/global-wind-solar-costs-fall-even-faster-coal-fades-even-china-india/

[2] http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/one_planet_cities/key_messages/?302612/EU%2Dbioenergy%2Dpolicy%2D%2D%2Dposition%2Dpaper

[3] Biodiversity promotes primary productivity and growing season lengthening at the landscape scale. Jacqueline Oehria, Bernhard Schmida, Gabriela Schaepman-Struba, and Pascal A. Niklausa. PNAS doi/10.1073/pnas.1703928114.

[4] (https://www.worldwildlife.org/projects/cascading-materials-extending-the-life-of-our-natural-resources) 

Check out Quantis’ Guidance on calculating Land Use Change https://quantis-intl.com/lucguidance/

  • 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: 01 January 2017
  • Author: Jason Clay, SVP Markets, Exec Director of the Markets Institute

The Markets Institute at WWF identifies global issues, trends, and tools around the most pressing challenges of our time. Each year we release a list of what we see as the top emerging industry developments that may not be apparent to help stakeholders stay ahead of the curve, and to help us all shift faster.

The lists are identified through research, interviews, data analysis, and discussions with our Thought Leader Group. Here are the top issues, trends, and tools to keep an eye on in 2017:

ISSUES

Climate change as a threat multiplier

We are seeing more and more anecdotal evidence of the impacts of climate change. Nowhere more so perhaps than in the global food system. There are more pests and pathogens, weeds are healthier, seasons more variable, and there are more extreme weather events from drought to floods, hurricanes, tornados, dust bowls, fires, and more. We are also seeing the beginning of shifts in where crops are—or can be grown. Going forward, we need better systems to monitor climate impacts so we can begin to anticipate and get ahead of them.

Decentralization of global governance

Global governance systems are being undermined and replaced with bilateral arrangements and a more decentralized system. This can be seen most clearly with the World Trade Organization being moved aside by bilateral and regional trade deals. But it is also happening in several other ways. There are some issues that are truly global and that cannot be solved by one, two, or even a handful of countries. Everyone needs to be engaged. This is especially true of environmental issues—biodiversity loss knows no boundaries; neither does pollution, and GHG emissions, perhaps the biggest pollution issue of all, will not be solved without cooperation, rules of the game, measurement and continuous improvement, with everyone doing something.

Emerging zoonoses

It feels like zoonotic diseases have become a more regular occurrence. In fact, we have had an average of two every year for the past century. Except for the Spanish influenza, most of the outbreaks have not been global. However, it’s growing clearer that they are being caused by clearing natural habitat and forcing more biodiversity onto smaller amounts of land. New hosts are being found in the wild but also with the most common mammals—livestock and people. As we clear more land, encroach on more habitat, and raise more livestock, we can expect more outbreaks. And if hundred-year storms are now a twice-a-decade event, we can expect a big one, or more, on the horizon.

Microbiomes

We are at the beginning of a groundswell around microbiomes, whether it is the gut microbiome of people or animals, soil or even plant microbiomes. As we understand more about the microbiomes of different species, we have a much better idea about their role in nutrition, nutrient uptake and recycling, and the production of GHGs like methane. Microbiome research and understanding how they function will be key to changing diets of people and livestock, but also in how we feed plants and take advantage of natural processes to reduce soils amendments.

Trump & Bolsonaro: Wild Cards

No two national leaders reflect the rise of nationalism, protectionism, and the rollback of environmental protections more than Trump and Bolsonaro. Unfortunately, they are not alone, and others are likely to follow suit as we experience major pushback on globalization, as well as social and environmental agendas—and the polarization that each seems intent to encourage. Their governments look less like democracies and more like a “winner takes all” strategy. And, with these two it will get worse before it gets better; each has a constituency of loyal followers.


TRENDS

Plant-based Everything

As the movement, particularly in developed countries, toward plant-based diets gains momentum, we are seeing alternatives for anything that traditionally contained animal protein. Some of these attempts work and will begin to find market share. Most fail. But the trend is here to stay—plant-based diets will be an increasing share of the food market. The questions are how big it will become, where it will gain most tractions, how long will it take, and if they can keep the environmental impacts low if—and when—they start to scale.

Momentum from the Paris Accords

Coming out of the Paris COP, many companies have decided that they can’t wait for governments to start reducing GHG emissions. More and more companies are making commitments to reduce their own scope one emissions, as well as scope two three emissions. It is great to see this movement. The question is whether it will help drive government ambition higher.

Soil’s moment in the sun

It’s about time that the importance of soil is more widely recognized. With current farming techniques, without soil we would have no food. That is why soil (e.g. its health, erosion rates, nutrients, and biodiversity) is such an important biome for people. Regenerative agriculture, climate-smart ag, land stewardship, agroforestry, and eco-agriculture are all pushing for better soil management. Now, with the potential to pay farmers for improving soil (not for soil carbon per se, but reduced input use and increased efficiency and resiliency) rather than mining it, hopefully we will see vast improvements in productivity and reduced negative impacts.

Decline of regulation

With economic growth declining, the rise of nationalism, and the volatility of primary product pricing, most countries have less revenue and are cutting government. Many are pulling back precisely when the need to do more has never been greater, as social safety nets are disappearing and any gains for the poor are rolling back. In this vein, governments are also becoming laxer about enforcing existing regulations. This has resulted in a gradual, but pervasive increase of illegality in global food trade affecting both domestic and global food systems. It continues to go unchecked, hurting both producers and consumers, but also the planet.

Protein tradeoffs: land, sea

As people become more selective about protein sources, they are beginning to choose based not only on human health issues such as links to disease, aging, or the latest nutrition study in the news. Many are shifting from land-based proteins to those from the ocean. The real question is how does one compare proteins of different types of livestock with different seafoods, and then also production methods, e.g. free range or grain-fed and wild-caught or farmed. This trend will lead to more research about proteins and how they fit into personal nutrition plans.

Material accumulation vs. well-being

Increasingly, material accumulation is confused with well-being. This is true not just in developing countries where more people are being lifted out of poverty but also includes developed countries and the wealthy wherever they live. Displaying wealth in the form of things leads to accumulation and unnecessary consumption. It can be something as simple as having twenty t-shirts in a drawer, but only wearing three. And as things are displayed it becomes competitive and drives more accumulation. Unless people see the folly of this it only ends at the resource limits of the planet.


TOOLS

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is increasingly being tested and used in the US for a wide variety of needs from fundraising to research. Contributions through citizen science have led to the identification of new species, species distribution and population counts, and even things like weather patterns, the impacts of climate change, and the search for criminals. However, crowdsourcing is also being used to support peer-reviewed, primary scientific research, and eventually crowds may do more of the reviewing.

Personalized nutrition

Now that we can sequence everyone’s personal DNA, we can not only anticipate medical issues or inherited traits but can keep them in check if monitored. Now it is clear that it is possible to also understand the impact of diet on health and even anticipate and ‘prescribe’ personalized nutrition plans to abate certain health issues.

Precompetitive venture capital

When XPRIZE launched the space tourism prize, they discovered that many entrants didn’t have access to the capital they needed maximize their chances to win the $10 M prize. They did not win the contest, but after the prize was awarded, four of them launched IPOs and raised $2 B in venture to take their inventions to market. Realizing that they had missed an opportunity, the Foundation created BOLD Capital, a venture fund to invest in groups that qualified to compete for XPRIZEs. The goal was to create a fund that invested in all the horses in the race. This is a way to de-risk VC is going forward.

Forest carbon sequestration

As companies attempt to reduce their GHG emissions, many realize that there is no way that they can reduce their direct GHG emissions, so they are looking for other ways to make a meaningful contribution. While it doesn’t make sense for oil and automobile companies, even airlines or thermal power plants to invest in carbon sequestration, it might make sense for banks, insurance or IT companies to reduce global emissions by investing in reforesting degraded areas or forests that are being degraded or likely to be cut. This helps solve a carbon problem and rehabilitates degraded land for nature. But this should only happen in addition to setting a broader, transparent, science-based strategy to reduce emissions in their operations and across their supply chains.

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  • Date: 10 August 2016
  • Author: Sandra Vijn

Last year, 9.3 million cows generated more than 200 million pounds of milk in the US. That’s a lot of nutrition, and it’s also a significant source of greenhouse gases—about 2 percent of our country’s emissions. Recognizing this fact in 2008, the dairy sector voluntarily set a goal of reducing GHG emissions from fluid milk by 25 percent by 2020, and has since undertaken several projects intended to help meet that goal.

Over the last six years, World Wildlife Fund has worked with the Innovation Center for US Dairy, dairy farmers, consumer brands, and others to develop a digital tool called Farm Smart® to help dairy farmers measure, shrink, and share their GHG and energy footprints.

Now, the Farm Smart tool will be incorporated into the FARM Environmental Stewardship module that is being added to the existing FARM Animal Care and FARM Antibiotic Residue Prevention modules, managed by National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). The FARM Environmental Stewardship module will be available to all 43,000 US dairy farmers on January 1, 2017.

By entering their production metrics into a digital survey, farmers can use the FARM Environmental Stewardship module to see how their herd size; feed, and energy use; manure systems; and other variables affect their environmental and economic performance. For dairy buyers and brands that have established climate change goals of their own, the module can help them track of emissions and energy use within their supply chains. It can also be used to identify potential efficiency gains and cost savings. It can help find ways to produce more milk with less resources.

Why is WWF involved? We are dedicated to driving sustainable food systems to conserve nature and feed the planet. That means using fewer resources to produce more food on the current amount of land, and protecting natural habitats, keeping oceans, rivers, and lakes clean, and curbing climate change. These issues are important for the dairy industry: Beyond greenhouse gas emissions, dairy cows produce manure, which needs to be properly managed to protect waterways, and use feed, which should be produced in ways that conserve soils and water, and doesn’t lead to conversion of ecologically important areas such as prairies, wetlands, and forests.

Though climate change will affect everyone on the planet, farmers are on the front lines. It threatens them directly in the form of erratic weather and indirectly in the form of volatile prices for energy, feed, and other inputs.

It’s also a critical issue of trust and transparency. Consumers increasingly want to know where their food comes from and how it was produced. The FARM Environmental Stewardship module creates a platform for uniform reporting of GHG emissions and energy use, and in addition to the FARM Animal Care and FARM Antiobiotic Residue Prevention Modules, will give customers and consumers a more comprehensive and up-to-date view of what it takes to produce a gallon of milk.

As challenging as it is for a single company to reduce its energy use and GHG emissions, it’s even more difficult for an industry of 43,000 businesses—as well as their customers down the supply chain—to act collectively. That’s why this is so significant: it gives every farm a consistent means to measure and manage their emissions. It also sets an example for other industries looking to take similar actions.

It’s now up to us—WWF, the Innovation Center, and NMPF, among others—to ensure it’s used as widely as possible. Given how valuable it is for all involved, there’s good reason to be optimistic.

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