World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

  • 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: 28 March 2019
  • Author: Lou Leonard, Senior Vice President, Climate Change & Energy, World Wildlife Fund

Americans love a good bargain. Case in point — the renewable energy market, where costs continue to fall, and companies are moving fast to take advantage. In 2018 alone, a mere 40 U.S. companies contracted for more than 6 gigawatts of renewable energy, doubling the previous record. That’s enough power to supply over 1 million homes.

But even as companies are doing more renewable energy deals than ever before, scientists warn that we have to move faster to decarbonize the economy in time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Companies can do even more to speed up America’s transition to renewable energy, if we can remove a few obstacles standing in their way. 

Increasingly, the price of renewable energy is not the problem: Costs for renewables are dropping, beating out coal and even natural gas in many places. Renewables also offer businesses less energy price volatility, allowing a company to lock in a price for decades, a significant advantage compared to market fluctuations in the price of natural gas. And renewables help companies meet their carbon reduction goals.

The price is right, companies can plan with confidence that the price won’t change, and renewables help companies meet their climate goals. So, what’s the problem? In short, access to the market for buying renewable power. Even for big companies, buying energy isn’t like buying a TV at the mall or ordering takeout online. If you want 100% renewable energy – rather than the mix of mostly dirty electricity with a little clean power thrown in that many utilities supply to their customers – it can get complicated, fast. Only the biggest companies have in-house expertise to navigate the complexities of a renewable energy deal.

And that’s in places where electricity markets are even open for these kinds of deals. In most American states, utilities control electricity markets, providing power to all customers — and choosing the source of this power. In these ‘regulated energy markets,’ companies can’t purchase their energy directly. A few companies have found creative ways to hack the system: For example, large technology companies have used their leverage when bringing new energy demand to the state (e.g., new data centers) to negotiate renewable energy deals with their utility. But existing and smaller customers lack the leverage to secure a deal.

It’s clear that the deck is stacked against these companies. To tackle climate change, that has to change. Companies need to learn from each other and to collectively use their voice to make it easier for everyone to buy renewables.

That’s where the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Alliance (REBA) comes in. REBA is a coalition of energy buyers and suppliers looking to transform America’s electricity system while bringing 60 gigawatts of clean energy online by 2025. And they are working together to drive progress in those challenging “regulated markets” — thanks to powerful new tools like green tariffs, buyer aggregation and innovative policy incentives.

Green tariffs come in many shapes and sizes but are essentially programs where a utility allows buyers to purchase renewable energy at a fixed rate. In some cases, companies have collectively partnered with utilities, which in turn buy electricity from renewable energy sources on the companies’ behalf. Such deals highlight a recent innovation of aggregating the purchasing power of multiple buyers in a single deal, thereby reducing prices and transaction costs.

This kind of ‘aggregation’ can be especially helpful for smaller companies. Large buyers are increasingly offering to ‘anchor’ lower costs for smaller companies who join the deal. In other cases, a group of smaller companies can serve as a collective anchor to negotiate a deal none of them could do alone.

It’s time to use these good examples to design innovative policies that bring these options to different markets. Legislation in Michigan and North Carolina triggered the development of green tariffs, while California expanded direct access for large customers to shop for renewables competitively. REBA is helping to build these innovative new procurement structures across markets, but more work is needed across the country.

And now REBA is about to really up its game. Today, the coalition is officially transforming from an NGO-driven initiative – driven by World Wildlife Fund, World Resources Institute, Rocky Mountain Institute and Business for Social Responsibility – to a business-led association. Under this new model, REBA will crowd in hundreds, even thousands, of new corporate members who collectively have the power to drive policy and regulatory fixes, level the playing field on costs and increase options for all customers to buy renewables.

Some trade associations in America have a bad reputation for blocking progress on climate change. But companies use trade associations for their biggest priorities, for when they really want to raise their voices together to have the greatest impact. What if we had a new trade association chartered to help save the planet? Starting today, we do.

Many challenges remain, but the unprecedented clean energy procurement in 2018 demonstrates a growing corporate consensus that renewable energy is the future. And now REBA offers a powerful vehicle — driven by American businesses — to help us get there.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Date: 15 February 2019
  • Author: Laura Nowlin

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cattle on Ranch in Montana

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

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

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

To read the full story, visit AGDAILY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Report:

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

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

  • Date: 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.

---

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

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

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

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

How interoperability works

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

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

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

Where business is leading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer Silberman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Date: 27 November 2018
  • Author: Lou Leonard, Senior Vice President for Climate and Energy at WWF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archive