The Markets Institute

Change at the speed of life



The Markets Institute at WWF identifies global issues and trends around one of the most pressing challenges of our time: the production of food in the 21st century. Our goal is to increase the speed and scale of solutions to help optimize global food sector sustainability.

We convene multi-stakeholder platforms to increase awareness and build consensus about issues impacting global food production. Working with a range of stakeholders - particularly the private sector - we strive to better understand these issues, and explore approaches the private sector can translate into market-based, sector-wide solutions.

Leveraging data analytics, business cases and qualitative research initiatives, we provide relevant stakeholders with insights, solutions, and business cases they need to avoid risk, turn adversity into opportunity, and create change at the speed of life.

For more than 50 years, WWF has identified the biggest threats to biodiversity and developed solutions to address them. This included working with the private sector to develop innovative approaches to manage resource scarcity.

The Institute builds on WWF’s history of impactful conservation, our global network of partners, and unique track record of convening stakeholders to think laterally to identify and implement market-based solutions.

Small steps to reduce food waste

Right now, reducing waste is ever more important and we can all look at how to do that in our own kitchens.

a refrigerator shelf

Why It Matters

  • Food production already has the largest environmental footprint globally of any human activity. Over the next two decades, in light of climate change and a growing global population, these impacts are expected to significantly increase—making how and where we produce food in the coming years the most pressing conservation challenge of the 21st century.

  • The best way to address the footprint of food is to produce more with less by increasing efficiency and productivity while reducing waste and shifting consumption. But no single stakeholder can effect change on their own. All relevant actors, including the private sector, need to change how they think about food and how they collaborate to increase the speed and scale of solutions needed to make a more sustainable future possible.

  • WWF’s experience has shown that sectors change when stakeholders share a common understanding of issues and trends as well as problems and solutions. They can then better prioritize current and future risks and develop joint strategies to address them. Creating a more sustainable global food system must be a precompetitive process with the private sector working together to develop significant, lasting practices.

What WWF Is Doing

TLG Group Photo 2016

The Markets Institute convenes select groups from the private and public sectors, NGOs, and academic institutions to raise awareness of issues around food production, and agree on the most immediate sustainability challenges facing the sector.

Through the open exchange of ideas, we work with participating stakeholders to explore innovative industry-wide approaches on how to address these shared challenges, pursuing smart thinking from across disciplines. Our objective is to inform credible scalable responses that help the environment, business and society - responses that are the most likely to be implemented by the private sector at scale.

Today, we are exploring a number of issues that we believe constitute both major challenges and opportunities. These include, but are not limited to:   

The "$200 Billion Gap"

Chinese farmers 1-3-13 232374

Many companies, including global retailers and brands, have committed to sourcing more than $450 billion of sustainably produced raw materials by 2020. We're working with a number of companies to explore if these commitments can be used to generate investment in more sustainable production, particularly among smallholders.

Understanding Illegality

Shrimp fishery, Mexico

The Markets Institute is working to better understand illegality in food production as a global problem so we can determine the most actionable solutions to address this issue. Our goal is to identify and evaluate the riskiest types of illegality for stakeholders, which commodities and countries are the most associated with the issue, and the best parameters to prioritize types of illegality.

Preventing Food Waste

child in grocery store

It is estimated that eliminating existing waste could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent, and halve the amount of new food needed by 2050. Today, we are working with companies from the hospitality, retail and food services sectors, to explore how best to measure and reduce waste.

Shifting the Cocoa Production Paradigm

MI cocoa page

Cocoa is in crisis. In 2015, global cocoa production fell more than 110,000 tons below annual consumption. By 2030, we could reach more than a 2.2 million ton deficit if the cocoa industry doesn’t take steps to fix the many problems it faces. At the nexus of aged trees, degraded soils, aging producers and climate change, cocoa will either become a model for sustainable production or a cautionary tale for other commodities. To that end, The Markets Institute is today working with key industry players, from companies to NGOs, to identify pre-competitive approaches to help the cocoa sector rehabilitate itself.