World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

Better business for a better Earth

At World Wildlife Fund, we believe deeply in the private sector’s ability to drive positive environmental change. WWF Sustainability Works is a forum for discussion around strategies, commitments, technologies and more that will help businesses achieve conservation goals that are good for the planet and their bottom lines. Follow WWF Sustainability Works on twitter at @WWFBetterBiz.

filtered by category: Sustainable Business

  • Date: 12 February 2024
  • Author: Sam Wildman, Senior Program Officer, Animal Ag Systems

The US Round Table for Sustainable Poultry and Eggs (US-RSPE) gathered 65 industry leaders, experts, and stakeholders in November 2023 for their annual meeting. This pivotal conference aimed to propel the sector’s sustainability efforts by addressing critical issues within the poultry and egg supply chains and creating a collaborative atmosphere for workshopping shared challenges.

In 2018, WWF was a founding member of the US-RSPE, in part because of the need to encourage market transformation towards sustainable intensification and the need for continuous improvement at speed and scale yet seen. The roundtable has evolved to not only be the thought leader on the sector’s continuous improvement, but to be a space for leaders to collaborate and advance action on shared challenges across the pillars of people, planet, and poultry.

The meeting encouraged and facilitated rich discussion across all three pillars of poultry and egg sustainability – people, planet, and poultry. Robert Bonnie, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation shared his optimistic perspective of the industry’s progress and opportunities, followed by timely discussions on how to advance the impact each organization has associated with biosecurity and bird health, effective workforce development strategies, and poultry feed sustainability.

Executive Director of US-RSPE, Ryan Bennett, expressed enthusiasm about the outcomes of the meeting, stating, "November was a chance for us to provide the resources and knowledge for the poultry sector to go into 2024 ready to support and change the conversation about poultry sustainability."

The meeting served as a platform to set the course for the organization's growth with the release of a new strategic plan, building on the success of the member-driven metrics framework and its impact on the poultry and egg sector.

A significant achievement highlighted at the conference was the current progress on the Roundtable Framework Tool, the first-ever sustainability assessment tool designed specifically for the poultry and egg industry. With a year of implementation behind them and having met past strategic objectives, US-RSPE is aiming to scale further, supporting the sector's growth and sustainability.

As the Framework continues to be a game changer, Bennett emphasized the organization's commitment to increasing awareness and expanding support to drive positive change within the industry. The US-RSPE annual meeting has proven to be essential for those dedicated to advancing sustainable practices within the poultry and egg sector.

  • Date: 01 February 2024
  • Author: Judith Hochhauser Schneider

All those bottles on beaches, fashion garments in landfills, and obsolete tech devices in dumps or incinerators, didn’t have to meet this fate. They became trash because a plan wasn’t put in place at the beginning of the product lifecycle to recapture the waste and use it to make new products and materials. That’s the basic premise of a circular economy. And it takes responding to external factors, collaborating internally, and coordinating across the entire supply chain to accomplish it well.

Having worked at WWF for over eight years leading large corporate partnerships, I saw that the most sustainable companies didn’t have the biggest sustainability teams. On the contrary, these brands effectively embedded sustainability strategy, and personnel, into each functional area: marketing, supply chain, finance, etc. This is an evolution from the often grassroots, isolated sustainability teams of years prior. The strongest companies strive to meet consumers where they are, satisfy shareholders, hold one another accountable, and meet government compliance rules.

As we think about creating a truly circular economy, the level of complexity increases as do calls for new ways to work together to drive change. Internal and external coordination must be ratcheted up. There is no room for siloed thinking; change requires a systems-thinking approach to understand the interdependencies within and outside of an organization. Additional tools are needed, especially in a rapidly changing landscape with circularity expectations from regulators, shareholders, and consumers.

Governments

One significant shift currently underway involves the ways that governments are tackling one of the major challenges in circularity: plastic waste.

Governments at the local, state, and national levels are addressing plastic waste in different ways. Perhaps most significant is the Global Treaty to End Plastic Pollution, which is establishing a set of legally binding global agreements that delineate the steps and timelines necessary to change the production and consumption of plastics. Along with domestic and state legislation, initiatives like this will lead to regulatory measures. Encouraging creative thinking requires internal collaboration among stakeholders and countless others to make that shift from a voluntary to a regulatory landscape.

Companies

As Peter Drucker famously said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Business change as critical as circularity requires implementing a change in corporate culture. One of the best ways to shift culture is to involve cross-functional teams in designing process change. It ensures collective understanding, clarity in accountability, and personal responsibility. In addition, making a concerted effort to align incentives across functions will encourage internal behavior change, which is especially effective when linked to corporate targets. The result is more employees taking ownership in their respective roles and encouraging the right conversations at the right levels of seniority.

Consumers

Circularity presents a new way of doing business and engaging customers. It is no secret that companies track legions of customer data before, during, and immediately after a sale. But infrequently do they continue to track that product (and its disposal). And most don’t provide guidance to the end user about how to manage or reclaim a product or its materials. Plus customers can feel abandoned when they are left to dispose or recycle the products and packaging on their own, without the help of the company who produced it or the municipality who collects it. This is a missed opportunity for circularity!

Since leaving WWF, I have been working to launch the Global Impact Collective, a new consultancy that uses systems and design thinking to advance sustainability implementation at pace.

Design thinking is an important process, which sometimes requires an expert guide and facilitator to ignite innovative ideas. The process brings together crucial stakeholders who can contribute different perspectives to the same problem. And when used well, it has become a powerful tool to drive alignment, improve collaboration, and surface truly innovative solutions.

At The Collective, we bring together key teams, including product design, sourcing, packaging, marketing, sales, finance, and others – people who don’t often find themselves in the same room at the same time, focused on problem solving. This process gives organizations the space and speed to develop many creative ideas and solutions at once. And because all the stakeholders are in the room, new solutions are socialized and pre-vetted for testing.

Consumers, governments, and companies can’t solve the plastic waste problem on their own. Coordination across sectors will be critical to understanding the perspectives of different stakeholders and making sector-wide progress. But before cross-sector collaboration happens, internal coordination within your organization is key. When you bring design thinking into the equation it invites an expansive, perspective shifting mindset. It allows you to say, “how might we…”, opening the door for broader, more creative solutions that are more inclusive and engage players throughout the value chain.

Join Us!

Come see it in action on February 12 at GreenBiz24 when the Global Impact Collective leads a design thinking workshop called Design Swarm™ for Circularity: Harnessing Our Collective Genius.  Be part of the experience as sustainability leaders unpack how to partner with internal stakeholders to creatively solve the issue of circularity.  This fast-paced, creative session, which will harness the creativity of the minds in the room to generate a large volume of breakthrough ideas at a very rapid speed to address internal coordination in your organization. We will explore circular economy from the perspective of Food & Bev, Technology, Fashion thanks to our esteemed lightning speakers: Erin Simon (WWF), Meghann Glavin (Starbucks), Jim Hanna (Microsoft) and Jennifer DuBuisson (Levi Strauss & Co).

We’d love to see you at Greenbiz24. Please reach out to let us know if you’ll be there so we can send you workshop materials in advance. Please join us!

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

  • Date: 31 January 2024

Arizona in February is known for snowbirds, sunny skies and of course, sustainability! GreenBiz24 will take place Monday, February 12 – Wednesday, February 14. This annual conference brings together leaders from across the country and around the world to share ideas, trends, and innovations in sustainability.

As always, WWF experts will participate in workshops and panels, lead discussions and provide valuable insights to conference attendees looking to find new and innovative solutions to help their companies and organizations take their sustainability and conservation efforts to the next level.

If you’re participating in GreenBiz24, we invite you to join a workshop or session featuring WWF experts and of course come say “hello” during conference networking breaks. Here’s where you can find us:

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  • Date: 29 January 2024
  • Author: Jason Clay, Executive Director, Markets Institute at WWF

Each year the Markets Institute at WWF releases a list of potential emerging developments that will affect the global food system and will be important for producers, consumers, the private sector, and governments to consider. The topics are identified through research, interviews, data analysis, gleanings from others, and especially through discussions with the Markets Institute’s Thought Leader Group. Here is a condensed version of our full report. As always, we welcome feedback, so please get in touch.

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  • Date: 20 December 2023
  • Author: Jason Grant, Manager, WWF Forests

How can wood furniture help ensure forests remain standing? Using wood from responsibly managed forests can actually help keep forests healthy for generations. Forests managed under rigorous environmental and social criteria can generate income while allowing forests to regenerate naturally, so they continue to provide goods and services that benefit people, wildlife, and climate. This market incentive also helps keep forests from being degraded or cleared for agriculture or other uses. As a result, companies that offer wood products in the marketplace are essential to addressing the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss through their responsible sourcing decisions.

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  • Date: 19 December 2023
  • Author: Maud Abdelli, Lead WWF Greening Financial Regulation Initiative

Our Planet needs nature to survive, and so does our financial system. Increasing biodiversity loss represents serious environmental and social risks to the stability of our price and market economy. With over half of the world's GDP heavily dependent on functional natural ecosystems, nature loss does not only directly affect companies and industries for example through supply chain disruptions, but also impacts communities who depend on fragile natural resources for their livelihood.

Findings from our recent annual assessment (SUSREG), which tracks progress on the integration of environmental and social risks in central banking and supervision activities in 47 countries, mostly members of the Network of central banks and supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), the Basel Committee (BIS) and International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), shows that since our first assessment in 2021, several central banks, financial supervisors and regulators are making notable progress.

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  • Date: 15 December 2023
  • Author: Jason Grant, Corporate Engagement Manager, Forests


WWF’s Wood Risk Tool helps companies tackle unsustainable logging and unacceptable trade while supporting responsible forestry


Conserving forests requires a tremendous worldwide effort from all sectors of society — governments, companies, communities, conservation organizations and individuals. And while we can celebrate successes around protecting priority threatened forests, driving large-scale forest restoration, and improving management practices in working forests, these vital efforts continue to be undermined by illegal and unsustainable logging that harms nature, people and climate. WWF’s new Wood Risk Tool is one step toward addressing this pervasive problem by helping companies stem the flow of illegal and unsustainable timber into the market.

Illegal logging is a scourge of truly global proportions. It accounts for most of the timber harvest in many producer countries, particularly (but not exclusively) in the tropics. Indeed, 10%–30%* of the global timber harvest is estimated to come from illegal origins.

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  • Date: 14 December 2023
  • Author: Erin Simon, Vice President and Head, Plastic Waste and Business

Plastic waste has been found everywhere, from city streets to the depths of the Mariana Trench, where it harms economies, ecosystems, and human health. While the crisis feels ubiquitous, there has been strong momentum recently to find solutions, from city initiatives to negotiations for a Global Treaty to End Plastic Pollution. The Global Plastics Treaty, in particular, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for businesses, governments, and communities to create a world free of plastic pollution.

As the world continues to grapple with the best approach to end plastic pollution, one thing has become abundantly clear over the last year: action is required at all economic levels (including individuals, companies, and governments) if we wish to see real change this century. The first step in addressing plastic pollution is understanding the scope of the problem and emphasizing that plastic reporting is not only possible, but critical to change. The corporate Members of WWF’s ReSource: Plastic initiative are demonstrating this possibility through continued efforts to transparently report their plastic footprints and progress against plastic waste goals. This work is showcased in the just released annual report, Transparent 2023, which details and tracks the latest year-over-year progress of ReSource Member companies’ efforts to reduce plastic waste.

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  • Date: 01 December 2023
  • Author: Emily Moberg, WWF

Setting deforestation- and conversion-free commitments can come with a steep learning curve. One of the first hurdles to overcome is deciphering some commonly used—and commonly misunderstood—environmental science terms and concepts. One of the questions I get the most often: what is the difference between cutoff dates and target dates? In the following post I’ll delve into specific definitions and context, along with why this is so crucial to get right.

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  • Date: 20 November 2023
  • Author: Erin Simon, Vice President and Head of Plastic Waste & Business

I traveled to Nairobi this past week, where representatives from nearly every country in the world gathered to continue the negotiations on the UN Global Treaty to End Plastic Pollution, a landmark blueprint for ensuring that plastic never contaminates the places we love most. Walking into the headquarters of the UN Environment Programme, I felt nothing but hope and optimism. Through the ups and downs of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I knew we might have a long week ahead of us but my faith in the UN process to work was still very much intact.

The third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) was supposed to be a critical moment for countries to agree on how to end plastic pollution through concrete commitments and decisive action. If done right, the framework being negotiated represents the best shot to work with businesses and governments to dramatically reduce the level of unmanaged plastic waste, particularly in nature, and to create a more sustainable and efficient economy.

At the beginning of the week, WWF set a clear vision for what a successful treaty looks like. This includes global, binding, and collaborative rules, not individual commitments from each of the 175 UN Member Nations. Specifically, WWF is advocating for:

  • A clear path to ban, phase out or reduce production of single-use plastic and the most damaging plastic chemicals currently used in manufacturing and packaging.
  • A defined set of requirements for product and systems designs that reflects the innovation we need to manage plastic waste and support a global economy based on sustainability, not disposability.
  • Proven financial measures and policies that provide the incentives for businesses to transition from single-use plastic products to more innovative, sustainable options.

However, early in the week, a handful of like-minded states—including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Cuba, Bahrain, and India—rejected the Zero Draft prepared by the chair and demanded a new one that they felt better suited their own interests, but clearly did not reflect all the views of the majority of Member States.

As the week went on, as an observer, it felt harder and harder to watch these few countries become successful in their deployment of tactics to slow the process down. I understand the vision of the UN -- the need for the equality of voices and perspectives. I wholeheartedly agree that complex world problems need a collective and collaborative approach to solve them. But it feels like while trying to preserve that ideal we lost touch of the purpose. It becomes hard to defend the process and its value when a few agendas continued to dominate and delay while they advocated for their sovereignty of resources over human health and ecosystems.

When countries unanimously agreed to negotiate a treaty to END plastic pollution, I believed them. And this treaty is our best bet, but only if we find the most common ground possible to create a world where humans and species are not suffering. In the end, the majority of Member states fought for a high level of ambition, with more than 100 countries supporting global bans and phase-outs of the most harmful and avoidable plastics, and 140 countries calling to establish global binding rules as opposed to voluntary actions, but to get the job done, it will require a strong political will we did not see in Nairobi. The will to stand up and speak up not for country or economic agendas but for the people and planet who depend on these world leaders to do their part.

When we said everyone has a role to play, we meant it. WWF will continue to fight for this future - will companies and policymakers do the same? We can’t afford to let this moment slip by us.

Read Erin Simon's reflections from INC-2 in Paris, here.

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