World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

  • Date: 16 March 2020
  • Author: Bryan Hitchcock, Executive Director of the IFT Global Food Traceability Center; David Schorr, Senior Manager, Transparent Seas, WWF

Ocean conservation is a venture of incremental progress. There is no switch to flip on a single solution to the many challenges faced across 71% of the planet. Instead, success comes from playing the long game where together we collect enough little wins to accomplish big things.

Still, there are milestones that signify a major shift is taking place in our relationship with the ocean, and we’ve reached one of those points in time.

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  • Date: 11 March 2020
  • Author: Lisa Frank

At Lisa Frank Inc, nature is one of our greatest inspirations, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. We produce art filled with adorable creatures and vivid colors to celebrate animals and wildlife. There's a special feeling of joy and awe that fills you up when you think of the majestic creatures that roam our planet. That feeling is what Lisa Frank always tries to capture with our designs.

For animal lovers, including so many of the Lisa Frank fans and followers, the past several months have been incredibly tough. The wildfires in Australia were so widespread and so devastating. The terrible toll these fires have taken on people, animals, and nature, is almost too much to bear. But even in the face of something so horrible, we can't give in to feelings of hopelessness. While most of us may not be firefighters or environmental scientists, every single one of us can do something to help.

In Lisa Frank's case, that means using the power of our designs and the reach of our business to raise funds for World Wildlife Fund to help with restoration and recovery efforts in Australia. We also want to give the Lisa Frank audience, especially our youngest fans, an easy way they can contribute and help make a difference.

To support this important cause, we issued a collection called, "I heart; Koalas." It's a design in classic Lisa Frank style, full of whimsy, color, and joy. While our motivations for starting this campaign are heartbreaking, we deliberately wanted to use an image that would give our fans that same warm, fuzzy Lisa Frank feeling. Our design reminds people why they care about wildlife, sparking them to contribute to the effort out of joy, love, and hope, not out of fear or sadness.

While the reality for wildlife on our planet isn't always sunshine and rainbows, it's so important that we continue to celebrate the love we have for nature, focusing on what we can save and restore, rather than what we've lost. This attitude is shared by World Wildlife Fund, which is why we're so excited to support them through this project. We want Lisa Frank's fans to know that there's a role for everyone to help, both with the recovery effort in Australia and with conservation around the world. Any individual -- and any business, including ours -- can do their part. And together by showing how much we care about wildlife, each of our efforts can add up to something incredible.

  • Date: 19 February 2020
  • Author: David Schorr, Senior Manager, Transparent Seas, WWF

Changing any complex system requires finding a point of maximum leverage. When it comes to creating transparency in the seafood trade, access to reliable information is the key, and there are two points of leverage to make it happen: getting companies around the world to agree on what data is needed, and ensuring they can share it seamlessly .

Affordable and reliable traceability—the concept of tracking seafood from bait to plate—depends on fishers and aquaculture farmers routinely providing verifiable data. One way to achieve that vision is for governments to require this information as a routine part of access to markets. But currently there is no global agreement on what information must accompany seafood products. In fact, a new study from a consortium of NGOs analyzed the key data elements required in the top three seafood markets—US, EU and Japan—which are responsible for nearly two thirds of all seafood imports. It found that even governments with the most robust import regulations don’t fully capture all of the data needed to ensure that the fish bought by consumers is coming from legal sources.

That’s where the considerable leverage of market leaders in industry comes in. WWF has been working with seafood companies around the world to develop urgently needed standards for capturing and sharing a consistent set of basic information based on shared industry-wide expectations.

Seafood is one of the most globalized of all food commodities, with supply chains that crisscross oceans and continents. While this global web of production allows coastal communities to sell their seafood products into important international markets--and gives consumers access to seafood from every corner of the planet--there are risks and new responsibilities for businesses. Traceability systems can mitigate these risks and provide benefits to public health, social welfare, and environmental sustainability. But only if those systems can communicate seamlessly via globally established standards. Businesses have a stake in enabling that to happen.

The first step is for companies to agree on what information needs to be shared. Key Data Elements, known as KDEs, are imperative for establishing reporting requirements at critical stages of production and trade. These can work hand-in-hand with government reporting requirements and trade controls, as well as with systems for data collection needed for sustainable resource management. Having the right KDEs is also what generates value in the form of consumer and brand confidence.

In fact, getting industry-wide agreement on KDEs is one key part of a new set of industry-led standards that are about to start reshaping the way businesses do seafood traceability. As highlighted in an open letter recently released by a group of seafood industry leaders, these groundbreaking standards include a ‘basic universal list’ of standardized seafood KDE’s that will set a global baseline for the information that should accompany all seafood products. These new standards, about to be released at a major seafood industry trade show in Boston this March, have been developed by industry through the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability, or GDST for short. The GDST 1.0 standards are the data-sharing foundation on which reliable, affordable, and efficient seafood traceability will be built.

Not only does GDST 1.0 provide a universal check-list of the information that must accompany seafood products, it sets out technical specifications for how systems share that information seamlessly. These technical standards are already being road tested by leading seafood supply chain companies, including some of the world’s biggest seafood processors, brand owners, and retailers. For the companies involved, it’s not just a matter of meeting CSR goals – these system design standards are helping address core business functions, and ensuring better return on investment when companies upgrade their traceability systems.

The ocean provides a bounty of seafood, supporting hundreds of millions of jobs and feeding billions of people. Creating seafood supply chain transparency creates accountability and provides the data needed for improved science-based management of fisheries and aquaculture farms. This mix of sustainability and business strategy is a powerful lever for driving change in the complex world of seafood trade and when GDST 1.0 launches this March during the North American Seafood Expo, industry will be one step closer to sustaining the future of the seafood industry.

  • Date: 13 February 2020

The United States must achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050, if the world has any hope of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees - the level at which the world can likely avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. WWF believes that national legislation setting a price on carbon, as well as a mandatory net-zero target for 2050 or earlier - with intermediate targets between now and then - is essential to charting a durable and ambitious pathway for the whole country. Such an approach would require the federal government to use every tool at its disposal - existing authorities under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, budgetary authority with respect to transportation and other sources, research and development capacity, and many more - to transform the energy economy in the United States. The roadmap released today by the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), of which WWF-US is a member, is a good step in the direction of achieving this vision. It advances a clear framework that can help set the stage for bipartisan climate negotiations - but more work remains.

As WWF continues to engage with the CLC and others in Congress, the private sector, and civil society who are working to craft a lasting national climate policy, we will be guided by the following criteria:

America’s national climate policy should:

  • Reduce emissions by 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, and
  • Achieve greater than net-zero emission levels by 2050 at the latest.

WWF supports a policy approach that:

  • Creates a legally mandatory pathway to our emissions goals,
  • Provides for a just transition for all Americans, and
  • Respects the rights of indigenous people and frontline communities in the United States.

The right policy approach will combine the following mechanisms:

  • A price on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions,
  • Complementary regulation, particularly of air pollution from mobile sources,
  • State programs that provide locally appropriate approaches to reducing emissions, and
  • Support for voluntary initiatives, such as those taken by the private sector to set and achieve science-based emissions targets.

The CLC roadmap aligns with some of these criteria but not all. Specifically, WWF has concerns about preempting, suspending, or repealing EPA’s authority to regulate stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, under a national climate policy, the EPA would need to be strengthened and fully funded, using every authority available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In our ideal policy design EPA would:

  • Have the authority to regulate sources of emissions from stationary sources on both climate and environmental justice criteria;
  • Continue to set and enforce regulations for mobile sources, and efficiency programs for appliances, lighting, and buildings;
  • Measure and evaluate the emissions that inform a carbon price;
  • Cooperate with states and local governments on setting climate plans; and
  • Enforce binding targets for emissions reductions.

The need for an ambitious and binding climate policy is urgent. The lack of a proper national response from the wealthiest nation on Earth to our greatest existential threat drains ambition from the global community at a moment when we need to move farther and faster than ever.

The CLC roadmap matters because it provides a forum for a range of voices from across sectors – including many that have traditionally been at odds with each other – to discuss a way forward on addressing the climate crisis. WWF thanks CLC for advancing this discussion and looks forward to being a constructive voice in the months ahead.

  • Date: 30 January 2020
  • Author: Erin Knight

Right now, tropical forest regions are under immense pressure to provide services for people and wildlife. Balancing competing demands for land use is a challenging undertaking that requires dedication and buy-in from a variety of stakeholders and local actors. To encourage and accelerate forest restoration efforts, several global initiatives have been developed, such as the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), the Bonn Challenge, Initiative 20x20, and most recently, the UN's Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

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  • Date: 27 January 2020
  • Author: Katherine Devine, Director, Business Case Development, WWF Markets Institute

Up to 40 percent of food in the United States is lost or wasted, yet 1 in 7 children in the U.S. live with hunger. A recent study by World Wildlife Fund’s Food Waste team shows how schools can be at the forefront of confronting these challenges. The study found that the uneaten food in US schools could amount to $1.7 billion dollars every year. How else could those dollars be spent? Just 5% of that savings, or $85M, could:

  • Provide an additional 51M school lunches (at $1.65/lunch),
  • Incentivize 56,000 teachers to lead food waste initiatives (assuming $1,500/yr incentive), or
  • Fund 170,000 field trips to farms to help connect students with their food (at $500/trip).

These represent just a few of the many ways schools could re-invest savings from food waste reduction to improve education and nutrition outcomes for students and teachers.

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  • Date: 21 January 2020
  • Author: Sandra Vijn, Director of Dairy, WWF

Farmers are some of the most important stewards of our planet’s natural resources, as they work in nature every day, nurturing and growing the crops and livestock that feed us all. Because they are on the frontlines, they are vital to finding solutions to some of today’s pressing environmental challenges, including climate change.

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  • Date: 09 January 2020
  • Author: Jason Clay

The Markets Institute at WWF identifies global issues and emerging trends around the most pressing challenges of our time to help us all learn and shift faster. As always, we'll be tracking a wide variety of food and soft commodity issues, trends, and tools as we move into 2020, dubbed the super-year for the environment. We know we will see more political volatility and financial crises, and the impacts of climate change to not only be felt more deeply but also recognized for what they are—a ticking time bomb for the future so long as they are not addressed. Here are just a few of the other issues, trends and tools we will be tracking this year:

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  • Date: 01 January 2020
  • 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 2020:

ISSUES

Global recession

Will governments wake up to what is happening and what their role is in addressing it? Will they look beyond the next election for what is needed and begin to lay the groundwork for it? Will they realize that only they, working together, can solve some of the world’s biggest problems? Or, will the rise of nationalism and the perceived need to protect markets commit them to paths that not only don't address the most pressing problems but accentuate them instead?

More action / less talk about commitments

Having failed to achieve most of their 2020 commitments, we will hear companies talk more about implementation than commitments. Given that reducing global emissions is the key impact that most food companies are focused on, we need to assess why earlier commitments weren’t been met and what it will take to achieve those set for 2030. Up to 37 percent of all global GHG emissions are from primary production in the global food system. To succeed this time around, both companies and producers will need to work together, and producers will need incentives as well as a better understanding of the tools and practices that will help them reduce GHG emissions and/or sequester carbon on farms.

Green finance will take off

Financial institutions have already recognized the risks associated with coal and other fossil fuels. It is only a matter of time before they start to recognize the risks associated with other environmental issues like deforestation and habitat conversion and other sources of heavy GHG emissions that contribute to climate change. The first approach to green finance will be to develop portfolio screens that place higher risks on deforestation and other sources of emissions. Then green finance will begin to seek out other alternatives to invest in that avoid the biggest environmental issues and as such are not linked to them in markets or the media.

Just transition in global economies

One of the main concerns of food retailers and brands is that the people who produce the raw materials in their supply chains cannot make a decent living. Many have begun to work on this issue—a clear indication that the issue is coming. In part, the corporate concern is driven by social media risks that might expose the economic situation of small and poor farmers in supply chains of the largest global food companies. As important, however, is the concern that if producers aren’t financially viable, they will cut corners to make ends meet, fail to produce sufficient quality or quantity of product, or simply leave the business and perhaps most important of all, the next generation of farmers will choose another career.

Resurgence of social justice and religious movements

The rise of nationalism and right-wing governments globally has begun to rekindle deep-seated conflicts. This trend in conflicts will continue. In many cases, the population makeup of countries is shifting in terms of race, ethnicity and/or religion due to different growth rates, immigration, or refugees. Many countries are more multicultural than they perhaps have ever been or at least have been for some time. And, many groups that have traditionally held power feel entitled to it and do not want to share it, much less give it up. Global development and communications have made the reality of the poor and marginalized minorities clearer than ever before—especially to the groups themselves. Transparency is breaking ground for the battle for inclusion.

TRENDS

Retail and brands divest from primary production

Retailers and brands have not been investing in primary production for some time. There is just too much uncertainty. Even traders have divested in production facilities that traditionally give them windows on productivity, innovation, and what they should expect from producers. With weather variability, extreme weather, and more gradual shifts of where crops can be grown, this trend will continue. The one exception, it appears, is that there have been a few significant investments in vertical integration in animal protein. This allows companies to control exactly how products are produced. There is growing concern, however, from traders to retailers,

Silicon Valley funding dietary shifts

There is a noticeable increase in funding from Silicon Valley—both new foundations and high net worth individuals—for animal rights, animal welfare, alternative proteins, and dietary shifts. While not always clear, it appear to be in the hundreds of millions. There is also considerable investment in the alternative proteins themselves. It's unclear how long the funding will last or how effective it will be in shifting public opinion on these issues, but it is certainly a trend to watch.

Net-zero carbon commitments

We expect to see "net-zero" carbon emissions goals set by many companies in the food sector for 2030. Perhaps the most surprising will be in animal protein production. The most pronounced moves are in aquaculture, particularly salmon. However, we are seeing similar shifts in terrestrial animal protein sectors as well, at least in the US and Europe. It will be interesting to see if alternative proteins are compelled to follow suit with their own net-zero carbon commitments.

Climate impacts on food production increase

Each year we hear a bit more about the impacts of climate change on food production. Climate has now affected coffee and cocoa production mostly due to drier growing seasons accompanied by increased pests and diseases. It has also affected where corn can be grown in the Midwest (production is moving North due to the nighttime heat) as well as where wheat, soy, oats, and cotton can be grown in the US and Canada. To date, however, there are no centralized databases where one can find this data in real-time. The data are beginning to show trends over time, but that takes years. For producers to adapt to the conditions and for companies to ensure that they have sufficient supplies of product, each will need to get better at anticipating the impact of climate on food production ahead of time rather than waiting to see what it is each year.

Rise in disease and pests from climate change

In addition to the impact of climate on agriculture and crop production, increased temperatures, drought, and flooding will also increase diseases in domesticated animals as well as people. There are even concerns that while the permafrost has been frozen for millennia, cross-sections of it show that there are still grasses, seeds, and other plant material that are viable from thousands of years ago. The question is how many germs, viruses, chemicals, and other zoonotic diseases are suspended in animation and ready to emerge when the permafrost begins to melt.

Automation and robotics vs. poverty alleviation

Hundreds of millions of small farmers produce both subsistence and cash crops including tree crops, many working for larger farmers as well. Starting about 150 years ago, mechanization began to reduce labor needs in food production. It started with in-field thrashing/processing, then planting and cultivation and finally harvesting. Today, most specialty crops still require manual labor at some stages. However, great strides have been made in automation and robotics, and it is now possible to harvest many crops mechanically. The technology will only improve. While mechanization eliminates backbreaking tasks, often even dangerous ones, what will happen to the small farmers and farmworkers who traditionally performed these tasks? Do they and their children have the skills required to contribute to society in other ways?

TOOLS

Gene editing still in purgatory

As crop geographies change and weather variability increases along with diseases and pests, the ability to select specific traits and breed them into food crops more quickly is becoming more important every year. Gene editing is one of the best tools to allow plant breeders to meet this need. Furthermore, traits can be selected from within a gene pool through gene editing. Unfortunately, the global dissemination of this new technology has been held up in the EU for years while it is being reviewed. The question is whether marker-assisted breeding should be regulated the same way that GMOs have been in Europe. And, as the EU goes, so to go to countries in Africa and elsewhere that depend on the EU for assistance.

New business models

With the impacts of climate change already being seen on food production, many retailers and brands realize that they need their producers to be more resilient. Many are concerned that they can’t keep passing on costs to producers without ensuring that they and their families can be financially viable. Companies are beginning to use long-term contracts (LTCs) with trusted suppliers who can use them as assets that they can borrow against to make investments in sustainability. Some companies are even bringing producers into the companies in a way that allows them access to health care at lower prices. The ability to shift business models will increase as companies start building new production systems rather than just add on to the ones they have had for hundreds of years.

Knowledge sharing platforms

Producers and now retailers and brands are beginning to share information about sustainability pre-competitively. However, aside from the Global Salmon Initiative, none really have platforms that were built just for this purpose. Dedicated platforms for producers and for retailers and brands will allow each to focus on the key impacts and learn more quickly as well share how they can reduce impacts, become more efficient, understand what works, what it costs, and what the payback period is—as well as how to make new mistakes, not old ones. In the past, the focus has been on production efficiency. Going forward, the urgency will be about how all actors can reduce GHG emissions and sequester more carbon. Food is one of the few sectors where it is possible to do both. The platforms that will be developed next will be to reduce emissions from the food sector that contribute to climate change.

Organic is flat

There has been a general flattening of organic and another certification uptake. The pace of certification is not keeping pace with global production or the general increase in demand for many items. Global organic production seems to have stalled out at about two percent or less of global food, though some categories and some foods certainly exceed those numbers. The problem with organic production is that while the cost is considerably higher for the consumer, the net value to producers is often less than that of other production systems because production is so much lower and often more costly in terms of labor.

Carbon payments for supply chain emissions

Companies are beginning to develop Science-Based Targets for scope one and two emissions, but most in the food sector realize that since more than 40 percent of emissions embedded in products are in scope three (either upstream or downstream), they will have to develop strategies to manage those that occur in primary production and consumption as well. Companies are also beginning to invest in regenerative practices, and position themselves to buy scope three carbon (reduced or avoided emissions, sequestered carbon) as the rules and markets solidify.

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

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

  • Date: 17 December 2019
  • Author: Katherine Devine, Director, Business Case Development, WWF Markets Institute

For several decades, as companies have embraced sustainability, they have made commitments and set targets to clean up their supply chains. Nearly 700 companies have set targets through the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTI) and more than 400 members of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) are working towards sustainability. Many companies have also made independent commitments to clean up their supply chains. While some progress is being made towards achieving these ambitious goals, change is not happening fast enough. The Markets Institute at WWF develops business cases to show how companies think differently about their business and demonstrate the value proposition of how more sustainable practices are good for business. By outlining clearly how bottom lines can be impacted, we strive to make change happen faster.

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