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Leading Companies Share Experiences, Solutions in WRI's Corporate Consultative Group

Annual MindShare Meeting provides the latest environmental intelligence on greenhouse gas accounting, emerging economies, and more.

<p>Participants from 3M, Citi, Alcoa, Disney, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Kimberly-Clark participated in a MindShare 2011 breakout session. Photo: WRI</p>

Participants from 3M, Citi, Alcoa, Disney, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Kimberly-Clark participated in a MindShare 2011 breakout session. Photo: WRI

Corporate leaders in manufacturing, retail, entertainment, health, finance, and other sectors might not seem to have a lot in common at first, given their different industries. But no matter the business, sector leaders must all stay at the forefront of environmental trends as they unfold, in order to stay competitive, manage risk and find new business opportunities.

That’s why, earlier this month over 60 of WRI’s corporate partners gathered at Citi’s offices in New York to hear about the latest sustainability developments and share challenges and solutions with one another.

The annual MindShare Meeting – the signature event of WRI’s Corporate Consultative Group (CCG) – is a chance for members to come together in person to connect with their counterparts at other CCG companies (as well as with WRI experts).

As the Manager of the CCG, I was struck by the sense of common purpose and supportiveness at this year’s meeting – not only between WRI and our members, but between the members themselves, many of whom are competitors or work in different industries. With 42 member companies from 8 different industry sectors, it’s interesting to observe the similar situations our participants face as sustainability professionals.

For instance, most participants seemed eager to help their companies innovate and think more strategically about sustainability issues, but they recognize it can be challenging to prove the “business case” internally for each new idea, particularly if the idea is cutting edge or may have an uncertain or long-term return. Participants sincerely understood one another’s challenges and were eager to learn from each others’ successes.

Some of the highlights from the 2011 MindShare Meeting:

  • The event covered a range of topics: from how to approach corporate sustainability efforts in India, China and other emerging economies to how to think creatively about partnerships (both inside and outside the organization) that can help companies gain market share while addressing water shortages, high energy prices and other resource constraints.

  • WRI officially launched the two new GHG Protocol accounting methodologies: the Scope 3 and Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standards. Many CCG members participated in the development process of these new tools.

  • We kicked off the new CCG Ecosystem Services Focus Area. Craig Hanson, Director of WRI’s People & Ecosystems Program, provided an overview of our work on the topic and member companies gave examples of how they’ve started to integrate nature’s benefits into business decisions. (The CCG has three Focus Areas: Climate, Forestry, and Ecosystem Services. This structure allows individuals to tailor their CCG engagement around particular topics of most relevance to their work.)

  • Kirsty Jenkinson, Director of WRI’s Markets & Enterprise Program, led a conversation over dinner with WRI Board Member and President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Frances Beinecke. Ms. Beinecke reflected on the journey towards workable climate policy solutions. In particular, she stressed the need for corporate leadership in the U.S., in lieu of a national climate policy.

In the past year, the Corporate Consultative Group has added 11 new members, including our first 3 companies based in Asia: Energy Development Corporation, Sindicatum Sustainable Resources and the Samsung Global Environment Research Center.

We are excited about this growing global network of formal corporate partners and look forward to the coming year. As an initial step, we’ll be delivering on some of the requests we received at MindShare for concise summaries and PowerPoints on issues relevant to business. We’ll also continue to connect WRI experts with members whenever our corporate partners have questions or require guidance on climate change, adaptation planning, GHG emissions accounting, water risk, and other issues.

Companies are a key audience for WRI, and we value our corporate partnerships. While there are several opportunities for companies to engage or formally partner with the Institute, membership in the Corporate Consultative Group is the principal way for companies to stay up-to-date on our corporate-relevant research, analysis and tools across all of WRI’s programs. To learn more, visit www.wri.org/ccg or get in touch with me directly.

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