Toggle Nav

World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

  • 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:

  • Date: 19 November 2018
  • Author: Colleen Geurts, Environmental & Sustainability Director at Schreiber Foods

Schreiber Foods is a Wisconsin-based dairy company with global reach. As the company has grown, they’ve built sustainability into their operations. Currently, the company is focused on setting science-based targets to limit their carbon emissions and, in doing so, is seeking to collaborate with a broad range of stakeholders, including World Wildlife Fund, to achieve those goals. They participate in Project Gigaton, Walmart’s supplier-focused initiative to prevent one gigaton of emissions across their global supply chain between 2015 and 2030, and through that are helping make shifts in the dairy grocery aisle. Colleen Geurts, Environmental & Sustainability Director at Schreiber Foods, shared why the company is committed to science-based targets, and the role animal digestion of feed plays in their company’s emissions.


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

As a dairy company, the main ingredients we purchase are milk and cheese. To help us prepare to set a science-based target, we performed a global scope 3 emissions (those attributable to our suppliers) hotspot assessment, which is the process of determining where our supply chain’s carbon footprint is the largest. Through that assessment we learned that the majority of emissions from dairy happen before the milk even leaves the farm. The emissions mainly come from dairy cows digesting feed, called enteric emissions (as in, coming from the gut). This brings an interesting challenge for Schreiber, since we don’t own any farms or dairy co-ops. We purchase milk and cheese from co-ops and dairy processors to make yogurt, cream cheese, natural cheese and processed cheese, so we need to look to our supply chain to help cut our emissions.

Why has your company decided to set a science-based target?

Science-based targets ensure we’re doing our part to reduce our emissions in line with our company’s size and future growth strategies. These targets take the guesswork out of goal setting and allow for transparency. By setting targets approved by Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), we’ll also be working to reduce risk in our supply chain and help ensure we have a sustainable industry going forward. As a customer-brand dairy company, we’re listening to our customers and making sure we set goals consistent with their aspirations, so we can support a sustainable supply and brand for them. Walmart’s Project Gigaton is one example of how we’re supporting our customers in achieving their goals.

What has the target setting journey been like so far?

It takes a huge amount of data and communication to get to the point where you can even set targets. We’ve worked across Schreiber to gather data, understand its significance and then translate these calculations into targets. This process has truly involved all parts of our business around the world. Currently we’re refining some of the data in our scope 3 assessment to complete our target setting work. We’re nearing the home stretch and plan to submit our targets for approval by SBTi soon. I’ve been very impressed by the engagement and support of our Schreiber partner’s (employees) throughout this journey!

What challenges or barriers have you faced?

Currently, our 2020 goals for GHG emissions only take into account our Scope 1 & 2 emissions. These are emissions that occur from the operations in our plants from activities like electricity and fuel use. We set a goal of 25 percent reduction in GHG emissions intensity (GHG per unit of product produced) by 2020 over a 2008 baseline and came up with a plan to achieve the goal. To date, we’ve reduced our GHG emissions intensity 23 percent over our 2008 baseline. We did it by making a plan and executing energy efficiency projects in our own facilities that are under our own control. Along with the plan and execution, it took effort and commitment to achieve progress.

One of the challenges with setting our new science-based targets for 2030 is that the majority of the emissions are coming from the things we purchase and aren’t in our direct control. We will still have a component of the goals that’s targeted to our internal operations (Scope 1 & 2), but where we can make the most difference is in our supply chain with our milk and cheese suppliers. Without collaboration and participation from our suppliers we won’t be able to achieve our goals.

The second challenge we face is how to measure progress. Dairy farmers are constantly working to find ways to be more sustainable. They are stewards of the earth, their livestock and their communities. It’s part of who they are. Since we don’t own farms or dairy co-ops, we can’t see clearly the primary data attributable to the largest piece of our GHG emissions in our carbon footprint. We’d be able to make more progress if farmers and other supply chain stakeholders adopted a consistent tool to calculate emissions and emissions improvements on the farms where we buy our milk. For that reason, we’re working with industry groups to develop tools that measure emissions – and emissions reductions –  the same way across the industry.

What advice do you have for other companies setting agriculture-related climate targets?

We don’t have it all figured out, and that’s okay. Part of the journey will be figuring out how to achieve the targets once they’re set and working together to measure progress. My advice is to work together with your customers, your suppliers, trade associations and NGOs on your journey. This way, we can ensure we’re all getting better and making a difference together. 

  • Date: 17 November 2018
  • Author: Delfin Ganapin, Governance Practice Leader for WWF-International

As calls for a New Deal for Nature and People grow at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Conference of the Parties in Sharm el Sheikh, Delfin Ganapin, WWF’s Governance Practice Leader, makes the case for fully integrating natural systems into the infrastructure of the future. This blog was originally posted on Medium.

We need to build wisely

New infrastructure development is essential if we are to meet the food, water and energy needs of a growing global population and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Yet expected public and private investment of $90 trillion in major projects between now and 2030 will double the amount of infrastructure on Earth and could potentially degrade the natural systems on which we all depend.

Making wise choices and pursuing sustainability is critical.

While infrastructure can contribute significantly to socio-economic development, poor choices on design and location of assets with lifespans of 50 to 100 years can lock-in unsustainability for decades.

Mixed blessings

Developing large 'transport corridors' for example, is increasingly seen as a way to stimulate regional integration and economic growth but outcomes are often mixed.

In one study looking at economic benefits of transport corridors in South Asia, the World Bank found impacts across countries on economic welfare and equity are generally positive but that associated impacts on the environment are extremely negative.

Similarly, assessing conflicts arising in infrastructure projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, IDB found 80% faced a delay, more than 50% declared a cost overrun, and 20% were cancelled due to conflicts.

Tellingly, ecosystem degradation was the most prominent environmental conflict driver in 72% of cases, followed by pollution (67%), deforestation (24%), water issues (17%) and climate change (11%), causing some projects to spend millions on environmental restoration and reforestation, even where regulations did not require such action.

Lack of institutional capacity and deficient upfront planning – especially in connection with siting in pristine environments and considering impacts on vulnerable indigenous and local communities – are also key conflict drivers.

Mind the gap

There is also a global shortfall in infrastructure finance. Current investment is not keeping pace with the SDG 9 ambition to 'build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation'.

Investment required to deliver mega-projects such as China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative connecting Beijing with Brussels and branching into South Asian countries, may exceed available financial resources.

Globally we face a cumulative ‘infrastructure gap’ of up to $15 trillion between now and 2040. Above all, what is blocking investment is political, financial and environmental risk. And unless we address this risk, we will fail to secure much needed private sector investment to fill the gap.

As important as the scale of investment, are the 'how' and the 'where' of infrastructure. Incentivizing sustainability and creating 'bankable' projects that reduce risk by addressing environmental impact and utilizing natural services should be at the heart of our approach.

Beyond climate change

That infrastructure development is increasingly focused on tackling climate change is welcome but we need to go further.

Nature is worth an estimated $125 trillion to the global economy every year, providing us with a host of infrastructure services such as clean air and water, food, timber, flood protection and climate stability.

Such benefits come from complex living systems that not only need space to flow and develop but that are also under threat – the more we disrupt them, the more we need to spend on inferior, inflexible imitations of natural infrastructure just to stand still.

A road is not just a road. In Brazilian Amazonia, 95% of all deforestation occurs within 5.5 km of a paved or unpaved road, and in the montane forests of Southeast Asia, landslides are two to three times more frequent in terrain with roads than without.

Natural disasters caused by human ecosystem disruption and climate change already cost more than $300 billion per year. Droughts, floods and water pollution cost business $14 billion in 2016 – a five-fold increase over 2015.

Natural infrastructure services can enhance and sometimes replace built solutions while benefitting climate, biodiversity and resilience. Protecting coastal wetlands, for example, could save the insurance industry $52 billion annually through reduced flood damage losses.

In building the infrastructure of the future, we must respect all planetary boundaries, sustain essential ecosystem services and carefully blend infrastructure with natural landscapes.

Good governance

With approximately 75% of the infrastructure required by 2050 still to be built, we have an enormous opportunity to develop ‘hybrid’ infrastructure that combines natural and built systems in ways that allow people and planet to thrive.

This requires good governance that enables us to make wise choices and develop systemic solutions.

Africa in particular is at a critical juncture with its governments under pressure to provide food, water, energy and transport that meet the needs of a population set to double by 2050. Transport corridors, rapid urban expansion, land use change and agricultural development all present significant challenges.

Investment in projects that ignore the importance of existing ecological infrastructure and its contribution to economy and society risks reducing overall welfare if it sustains growth without poverty alleviation, increases pollution or promotes extractives and uneven development.

No two infrastructure projects are alike. Adopting early and comprehensive strategic planning based on sound science and meaningful social engagement will reduce risk, increase efficiencies, lower costs, spur investment and avoid costly changes.

Achieving sustainability requires an integrated landscape approach that accounts for complexity, assesses direct and indirect impacts, identifies synergies and ensures sustainability.

We need innovative design that reaches beyond urban centers, maintains nature’s connectivity and enables us to secure the services we need without relying on outdated, discredited and damaging approaches.

Practical solutions and good models exist. It is time we put in place the institutional capacity and governance that delivers at scale and drives a shift in global norms.

New Deal for Nature and People

We need a New Deal for Nature and People akin to the Paris Agreement on climate change that values and incentivizes public and private investment in nature.

Working together, as governments, financial institutions, businesses, NGOs and citizens, we might then re-imagine the complex built infrastructure systems we need in ways that empower local communities and that complement, harness and protect the extraordinary wealth of natural infrastructure systems we already have. 

  • Date: 08 November 2018
  • Author: Monica McBride, Manager for Food Waste at 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, Monica McBride, Manager of Food Waste at WWF, shares why the waste pillar is so important to Project Gigaton.

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

The link between food waste and its impact on the environment is significant. Food production accounts for an estimated 70 percent of biodiversity loss, 70 percent of freshwater use and 50 percent of soil erosion. When we waste food, we also waste out all the intensive labor, land and resources that go into its production. Wasted food represents about eight percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is a main contributor to deforestation and the depletion of global water sources.

In fact, food waste actually helps contributes to climate change at two different phases in its life cycle.

First, the production of food requires land, fertilizer, water and other chemicals that collectively account for 25-35 percent of global GHGs – the single largest environmental impact of any human activity. And when you factor in the energy required to transport that food to market, the impact is even greater.

Second, the disposal of wasted food generates additional emissions. Organic waste that’s disposed of in landfills produces methane, which contributes 25-85 times more to global warming than carbon dioxide. Composting food is a better disposal option. Even though it also produces carbon dioxide, its overall impact on our climate is less than that of methane.

WWF’s No Food Left Behind report provides the latest data and context around North American post-harvest.

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

There is tremendous incentive for companies to join Project Gigaton, even if they’ve already charted their emissions reductions path. For one, it’s good for business. Companies can receive recognition for the good work their doing and get increased visibility and recognition for it. They also gain access to key resources that can help them achieve their goals and commit to even more ambitious targets in the years to come.

Importantly, when companies join Project Gigaton, they send a signal to other suppliers, including many of the smaller companies that may have otherwise been wary about reporting their waste numbers. Together, these companies can help generate the critical mass needed to shift the entire industry – and ultimately the entire private sector – toward more climate-smart business practices.

If a supplier is just starting out on their sustainability journey, what needs to be done to get them ready to join Project Gigaton? Who can help?

The question for companies to answer is: where do you sit along the food waste chain, and what is your specific point of impact? From there, the sustainability journey begins.

The first step for any company is to establish its food waste baseline. This is the only way for a company to truly understand its current impact and identify opportunities for improvement. From there, WWF recommends turning to the industry standards regarding food waste. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 — a global, collective 50 percent reduction in food waste by 2030 — should be the North Star for companies looking to set realistic goals. The Science-Based Target Initiative also offers some guidance on food waste reporting, along with other useful measures of supply chain efficiency.

Project Gigaton and experts like us at WWF can offer advice on setting – and meeting – these goals.  

The Project Gigaton website – and its section on waste in particular – makes it easy to start the process.

If a supplier is considering joining Project Gigaton and making a commitment for waste, should they also consider setting goals in other areas like energy and forests? What’s the value in signing up across the platform?

The impact of food waste isn’t just felt at the disposal end of the spectrum, so companies will be able to find areas of overlap.

For example, if you’re a food supplier working on the production end and have a direct impact on land use, there’s an inherent overlap with goals for agriculture. If you’re a transport company, you can look at waste for understanding your resource efficiency, while simultaneously setting fuel emissions goals.  
What resources are available to help those already committed, those looking to commit, and those who feel there’s an entry barrier for a supplier of their size.

There are many valuable resources to help companies that have already committed to Project Gigaton as well as companies that are looking to join. When it comes to food loss impact, World Resource Institute’s Food Loss and Waste Protocol is an excellent beginner’s resource on what to measure and how to measure it.  

To audit your waste footprint or track it over time, companies can turn to consulting firms that specialize in improved food management and are equipped to help address hot spots for food waste within manufacturing facilities.  

Can you give one example of a participating Project Gigaton supplier who is really leading the way in food waste?  

Taylor Farms is a strong example of a supplier that is making the most with the food they grow and harvest. Through innovative solutions they’re taking fresh and wholesome product that was no longer needed for its primary purpose of processed fruit and vegetable products and repurposing them into new product offerings like bagged slaws and kits. Taylor Farms is actively looking for opportunities to improve crop utilization, be it through donations, compost, animal feed, or waste to energy rather than turning to the landfill.

This blog is part of a series. Please see our Project Gigaton Q&A on forests here and on agriculture hereYou 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:

  • Date: 07 November 2018
  • Author: Lloyd Gamble & Akiva Fishman

Walmart and Unilever are changing the way we think about saving the world’s forests and mitigating climate change.

How? Walmart is teaming up with its vast network of suppliers, including Unilever, in a novel approach to tackle deforestation. If successful, this will keep massive quantities of carbon locked away in healthy forests rather than released to the atmosphere when forests are felled. Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart’s Chief Sustainability Officer, made this exciting announcement at the Global Climate Action Summit in September.

To understand how big a deal this is, let’s take a step back. When Walmart launched Project Gigaton two years ago, it encouraged its suppliers to use voluntary sustainability standards, such as the Forest Stewardship Council or Roundtable for Responsible Palm Oil (RSPO), to ensure that their purchases do not drive deforestation but, instead, contribute to the project’s overall goal of avoiding one billion tons of carbon emissions before 2030. These standards effectively pair consumer demand for responsibly-produced goods with farmers and producers who demonstrate good management practices. However, global deforestation is proving to be a daunting challenge that requires even greater effort and innovation to move the needle at scale and across entire landscapes.

And that’s where Walmart’s announcement comes in.

The company will launch a platform to mobilize its suppliers to support locally-led, multi-stakeholder initiatives that are tackling deforestation in key commodity-producing regions where they purchase soy, beef, palm oil and timber. These “jurisdictional approaches” align producers, local governments, global companies, and others within a single geography around a shared vision for balancing production, protection and restoration, and inclusion of local communities. Partnerships like these can combine the policymaking power of governments with the market pull of major corporations to overcome challenges that no one entity could take on alone.

The potential benefits for global forests and climate are enormous. For example, 38 states and provinces (also known as “jurisdictions”) make up the Governors’ Climate and Forest Task Force, which works to advance jurisdictional approaches that promote economic development while reducing deforestation. If successful, jurisdictional approaches in these 38 places alone could avoid over 500 million tons of carbon emissions each year through 2030.

The rubber will meet the road where Walmart and its suppliers support place-based solutions in important sourcing regions. We already have a great example of that. On the heels of Walmart’s announcement, Unilever announced that it will be the first supplier to support a jurisdictional initiative using this new platform. Speaking at the climate summit, Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Jeff Seabright, declared the company’s commitment to support restoration of two critical wildlife corridors and two riparian reserves in the state of Sabah, Malaysia, as well as to support growers in achieving both the State’s policy commitment of MSPO certification and RSPO certification of 60,000 hectares of palm oil. These activities demonstrate Unilever’s continued commitment to jurisdictional approaches and will be an important contribution to the State’s goal of bringing 100 percent of its palm oil production in line with MSPO and the RSPO standards by 2025, complementing the actions that other stakeholders are taking in the landscape.

With Walmart using this new platform to forge connections between suppliers and key forested jurisdictions, more partnerships can be anticipated around the corner to help tackle the diverse challenges of commodity-driven deforestation in different regions.

WWF, Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy will team with Walmart and its suppliers to facilitate these connections and advise on how best to engage in each geography along the way. It will be an exciting journey. And one that is desperately needed right now if we want to save the world’s forests.

  • Date: 22 October 2018
  • Author: Jan Vertefeuille, Senior Director of Advocacy and Wildlife Conservation at WWF

When WWF and TRAFFIC conducted a survey of 2,000 Chinese consumers earlier this year in China, we were hoping to see a decline in ivory buying now that the country has a trade ban in place. We were pleased to find that was in fact the case. What was concerning, though, was the finding that one consumer group has actually increased its buying: people who regularly travel outside mainland China.

That means that the consumers with the means to travel – giving them access to ivory in places where it’s still available on the market – also have the most desire to keep buying and ignore the law.

Chinese consumers are the driving demographic for ivory sales globally. Laudably, the Chinese government implemented a domestic ban on selling and buying ivory at the end of 2017 to address its role in the elephant poaching crisis. Now it’s essential we curb consumers’ desire to buy ivory outside of China to ensure the ban does what it was intended to do for elephants.

Unfortunately, some of the destinations most popular with Chinese travelers still have ivory on the shelves: Thailand, Laos, Hong Kong, Vietnam. Even though it is unlawful to bring ivory out of one country into another without special permits, travelers are still risking it.

With Chinese travelers predicted to make a staggering 200 million trips a year by 2020, we know that to reach them effectively, we need help.

This month, WWF and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) signed a memorandum of understanding to find new ways for the travel industry to halt illegal wildlife trade. More than 100 WTTC members have signed onto a declaration to tackle wildlife crime and educate customers and employees about the issue.

In Thailand during Golden Week – the first week of October and one of the most popular travel holidays in China – WWF partnered with the Tourism Authority of Thailand to reach tourists visiting there. Thailand, which has an open ivory market, is the most popular foreign destination for Chinese travelers, who comprise more than half of all tourists to Thailand. Chinese travelers’ access to ivory in Thailand could seriously undermine the effectiveness of China’s market closure unless addressed.

Since Chinese travelers are digitally connected when they travel, we enlisted online influencers to share our messages with them, messages we knew from our research are effective with this audience. We used blog posts, customizable social media visuals and short messages – which reached consumers with Chinese smart phones when they were in the Bangkok airport, at popular shopping districts and at markets where we know ivory is available.

NokScoot airlines, a budget carrier that flies between China and Thailand, passed out elephant souvenirs on certain Golden Week flights and invited passengers to join WWF and NokScoot at a pop-up art installation in Bangkok meant to raise awareness about the plight of elephants.

This kind of campaign -- combining the best available insights into ivory consumers, highly targeted digital outreach and collaboration between the conservation and corporate sectors -- is an essential tool to reduce consumer demand for ivory.  WWF is excited to apply the strength of our influence and join forces with so many other powerful voices who support us in tackling the threats that undermine progress of our conservation work.

It is our hope that this campaign encourages people to change their view of ivory as an appropriate holiday purchase and, ultimately, make ivory socially unacceptable.  

  • Date: 18 October 2018
  • Author: Mornè du Plessis, CEO, WWF South Africa and Viv McMenamin, CEO, Mondi South Africa

In advance of this year's FT Water Summit, Viv McMenamin, CEO, Mondi South Africa, and Mornè du Plessis, CEO, WWF South Africa, remind us that water risk and stewardship is too complex a challenge and too great an opportunity to explore alone. This blog was originally posted on Medium.

We live in times of unprecedented change. Partnership and collaboration are paramount. The global challenges – and opportunities – we face are too big and too complex for one business, NGO or government to tackle alone.

Looking beyond our own borders, working pre-competitively across sectors, engaging in stakeholder dialogue and mastering stewardship of natural resources, are all fundamentals of business success.

And the UN Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs), our blueprint for a sustainable world, will only be met through collective effort.

Growing water risk

The urgency with which we need to engage is particularly acute for SDG 6 on 'water and sanitation for all'. Freshwater is not only a shared resource, essential for well-being, enterprise and prosperity, but in its scarcity, also a shared risk.

Most pressingly, 2.1 billion people – or three out of every ten worldwide – lack safe drinking water at home and face increased risk of cholera, dysentery and typhoid.

Beyond these basics of human dignity, droughts, floods and water pollution are bad for the economy, costing business US$14 billion in 2016 – a five-fold increase over 2015. During South Africa's recent drought, for example, revenue from agricultural commodities in the Cape region fell by around US$500 million, with the grape harvest falling 20% in 2018, resulting in a 9% decrease in the volume of wine sold.

And the outlook is equally concerning. As a water scarce country, water demand in South Africa is predicted to outstrip supply by 17% by 2030.

Creating shared value

While a decade ago, few in business were seriously considering water risk and water stewardship, water crises now feature prominently in the World Economic Forum's annual Global Risks Report and private sector collaboration with others to manage water resources and promote good basin governance – the essence of good stewardship – is becoming the norm. If we don't collaborate to find solutions, we all lose.

Water is vital for Mondi's business and for more than fifteen years, WWF and Mondi have worked in partnership to pioneer and define water stewardship, first in South Africa and now globally.

Through our work in South Africa, we've worked with water users in the forestry, sugar and dairy sectors, as well as local and national government, private and communal landowners, insurers and finance partners.

For us, working collaboratively at a landscape level, and looking across whole catchments in KwaZulu-Natal and the Southern Cape, has been fundamental to improving production processes and managing shared water resources effectively.

Through a 'social learning' approach, we've helped different sectors, businesses and land users come together and look beyond their own individual water risks toward creating shared value and securing resilient communities and freshwater ecosystems.

Globally, this has given our partnership a springboard for promoting water stewardship in the packaging and paper sector, including enhancing the WWF Water Risk Filter, and addressing critical business risks such as water scarcity, deforestation, biodiversity loss and climate change.

Together possible

In partnership, we can share and combine experience, expertise and means to find innovative, lasting solutions that ensure equitable access to shared resources – for people, for business and for wildlife.

In partnership, we can address global challenges at scale – pursuing the SDGs could generate economic opportunities in food and agriculture, energy and materials, cities, and health and well-being worth at least US$12 trillion by 2030; and bold climate action could deliver at least US$26 trillion in economic benefits through to 2030.

Together, we can overcome collective anxiety by connecting to others, moving toward our shared humanity, acknowledging the value of the other, and co-creating solutions to complex problems out of diverse conversations.

And we can achieve goals that at first may seem too ambitious.

In Nelson Mandela's words, 'it always seems impossible until it's done'.

The FT Water Summit will examine how companies can collaborate to solve shared water challenges and generate return on investments through water stewardship.

  • Date: 17 October 2018

Investing Wisely in Water Requires Much Better Information
In advance of this week’s FT WWF Water Summit, Margaret Kuhlow, WWF’s Finance Practice Leader, urges the financial sector to get serious about water risk and calls for the disclosure of asset-specific location data to help realize water investment opportunities.

Business needs nature
WWF is in the business of saving life on Earth. And even though we don’t like to put a price on nature, we can.

Every year, the services that nature delivers, such as freshwater, pollination, soil fertility and climate regulation, are worth an estimated $125 trillion to the global economy. Yet as WWF’s forthcoming Living Planet Report 2018 will show, we are using up our natural capital faster than the Earth can replenish it. To sustain our current global levels of consumption, we would need 1.7 planets – but we only have one.

Troubled waters
In many countries, climate change and demographic pressure are set to worsen water shortages, jeopardize food production, put businesses at risk of drying and drowning assets, undermine the license to operate, and pollute and degrade natural ecosystems.

In WEF Global Risks Report 2018, four of the top five risks in terms of impact are environment-related, including water crises, which are both an environmental and human tragedy as well as a business risk.

Businesses are already feeling the effects of too little, too much, or too dirty water, either through a fall in revenue or an increase in capital expenditure.

The recent IPCC special report on Global Warming of 1.5°C shows the heatwaves, flooding and extended droughts we previously expected to see with a 2°C increase are likely to manifest through a 1.5°C change or less.

And while the proportion of the global population exposed to water stress could be 50% lower at 1.5°C than at 2°C, a 1.5°C increase will still expose 250 million urban residents to severe drought and increase flood risks by 100% by 2100.

With a 1.5°C change, freshwater reserves could fall by 9% in the Mediterranean, 10% in Australia and 7% in north-east Brazil while 800 million people in Asia who rely on the continent’s mountain glaciers for water could have to deal with a third less.

Globally, corporate respondents to the CDP Water Questionnaire indicated droughts, floods and water pollution cost business $14 billion in 2016 – a five-fold increase over 2015. Almost half expect a substantive change in business operations, and in 2017, reporting companies committed $23.4 billion to tackle water risks.

As we transition into a world of uncertain extremes, climate risks that manifest through water are real and growing – relevant to investment decisions we make not in a decade but today.

It is time for the finance, investment and insurance industries that support these businesses to assess and respond to water risk. Financial scenario analysis must account not only for carbon transition but also water-related risks and opportunities on the ground.

Water-related risks, whether reputational, regulatory or operational, offer opportunities for profitable investment in areas such as irrigation, wastewater treatment, water supply, leakage prevention, flood defense, wetland restoration and clean technology.

At this week’s FT Water Summit, a new report from WWF, ING and BCG, Seizing the Water Opportunity, will demonstrate how blended private and public finance can help achieve SDG 6 on ‘water and sanitation for all’ and secure economies and bottom lines.

In fact, meeting the estimated $1 trillion investment needed for water infrastructure means private sector involvement is essential.

In Turkey’s Büyük Menderes basin, for example, textile manufacturers around Denizli are implementing cleaner production methods, reducing costs and cutting pollution in an area that is rich in biodiversity and a vital source of water for communities; and the government is planning a ‘green industrial park’ as part of a global initiative with the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

In Portugal, Lisbon’s water company, EPAL, cut water losses from more than 20% to less than 10% between 2005 and 2015, achieving total savings of $78.7 million for an initial investment of $2.3 million followed by $570,000 per year over the same period.

More broadly, freshwater is key for delivering almost all the SDGs and realizing economic opportunities in food and agriculture, energy and materials, cities, and health and well-being worth at least $12 trillion by 2030.

Disclosure, disclosure, disclosure
Supporting investments in bankable water projects can help companies gain a competitive advantage and benefit from lower costs, more resilient supply chains, and a better reputation with customers and regulators.

The key to realizing financial return is disclosure of meaningful data.

In June 2017, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) issued recommendations for voluntary, consistent climate-related disclosures for investors, lenders, insurers, and other financial companies. Over 500 companies have so far expressed support for the recommendations, and the first reports are starting to appear.

Both the TCFD and CDP offer frameworks with which we can start quantifying material water-related risks that pose systemic risks to the financial system as serious as those driven by exposure to fossil fuels, as well as identifying opportunities for investment. And in many cases, water and climate risks and opportunities are related.

Better disclosure of material water and climate risks would make critical information available for financiers, investors and insurers, enabling them to assess risks more accurately and invest in business models that contribute to both water security and climate resilience.

Without access to additional, more specific and more standardized data, investments will languish in pilot and testing stages.

Location, location, location
We must evaluate exposure to water risk and identify opportunity for response at both basin and operational levels.

WWF’s Water Risk Filter will soon offer enhanced features, enabling financiers, investors and insurers to asses water risk, analyze TCFD-linked scenarios, estimate impacts on company value, and evaluate the appropriateness of mitigation measures.

But there is a crucial gap.

What the Water Risk Filter needs, and many investors lack, are asset-level location data on the specific whereabouts of operational and supply chain factories and farms. Some information, such as mining asset location, is openly available but assets of the Global 2000 are not comprehensively covered.

Without this information, context is lost. And without context, accurately evaluating both water risk and opportunity is impossible. This is the single biggest impediment to better integration of water risk within financial decision-making.

The TCFD has created momentum for disclosure. Now we need a clear signal from the financial sector that accounting for water risk is also ineluctable, and the provision and disclosure of high quality, consistent and specific asset-level data, fundamental.

The FT Water Summit will examine how companies can collaborate to solve shared water challenges and generate return on investments through water stewardship.

  • Date: 16 October 2018
  • Author: Claire von Schilling, head of corporate communications and social responsibility, Penguin Random House

During the 2018 REBA Summit, Penguin Random House became the 78th company and first publishing house to join the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles. As part of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, WWF leads the Buyers Principles, which tell utilities and other suppliers what industry–leading, multinational companies are looking for when it comes to buying renewable energy. We caught up with Claire von Schilling, head of corporate communications and social responsibility at Penguin Random House, to share why renewable energy is a priority for the company.

Clair von Schilling of Penguin Random House

Why is Penguin Random House pursuing renewable energy?

At Penguin Random House, we are dedicated to the practices of responsible book publishing, and our policy on environmental sourcing highlights our values and actions on conservation and sustainability. We are proactive in minimizing the energy consumption in our offices and facilities by adopting cleaner energy sources, and we are also dedicated to promoting books and publications that highlight environmental themes. Overall, pursuing renewable energy for our own operations and improving our environmental practices fit squarely with the mission of our company.

You recently set an emissions-reduction target. How do you plan to achieve that goal?

As book publishers, paper is of course the main component of the millions of print editions we produce each year. With that in mind, early in 2016, we met with our paper suppliers to ensure that they provide paper that is qualified by at least one certification standard. Penguin Random House can now state that 100 percent of the fiber harvested for the paper we use will be certified by a forest-management standard by 2020. Today, approximately 95 percent of all the paper we use for our books comes from certified mills.

We have also committed to reducing carbon emissions by 10 percent by 2020 and by 20 percent by 2025 through improvements to our company’s infrastructure and energy-saving capacity.

For instance, we are installing LED lighting on all floors of our New York City headquarters, and at our book-distribution center in Westminster, Maryland, we have installed new lighting controls and motion sensors to save energy, and therefore decrease our carbon footprint. On a similar note, we purchase wind-energy offset credits for 50 percent of our NYC headquarters’ energy use and 100 percent of our Westminster center energy use.

We would like to pursue additional, cost-effective renewable energy, which is why we are adding our voice to the Buyers’ Principles to call for more options.

Why is joining REBA important to your renewable energy goals?

We are thrilled to be the first book-publishing company to sign onto the Buyers’ Principles, and to learn from other major companies in the process. As a publisher, we believe that we can offer best practices in how to source sustainably printed products to other companies that might deal with paper procurement. We are also thrilled to learn from like-minded companies, and the technical expertise and advice REBA can offer in pursuing renewable energy.

What actions would you like to see your industry adopt to curb climate change?

Publishers in particular have an important role in ensuring that raw materials, especially the wood fiber that paper is made from, are sustainably and properly sourced. Having a deep understanding of the supply chain is the best practice, and fiber testing is a key component of that understanding. Paper sourcing is where our biggest footprint is as an industry but using renewable energy where we can in our operations is also essential to reducing our direct footprint.

At the same time, we also have a role to play in ensuring that many different voices—including those calling for awareness of the effects of climate change—reach the public through books and other media. We see our mission as bringing diverse and important viewpoints to millions of readers, and we know that tackling the most challenging environmental issues of our time will require the help of the global community.


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