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WRI's Strategic Relationships

Alcoa Foundation

Paula Davis
President, Alcoa Foundation

In 2006 the Alcoa Foundation formed a strategic relationship with WRI to support the development of innovative solutions that address climate change and encourage sustainable economic development, focusing primarily on projects in China as well as urban transport systems in Brazil. The strategic relationship is a deepening of a partnership which has spanned more than 15 years.

In China, our partnership helped fund WRI’s joint research at Tsinghua University, where researchers in the Low Carbon Energy Laboratory worked on technology transfer issues and carbon capture and storage methods. Alcoa Foundation also supported the Institute’s work with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to implement emissions accounting tools for the most energy-intensive industries in that region and contributed to WRI’s New Ventures Program, which helps small and medium enterprises access capital and grow their businesses.

"We are proud of our partnership and the outcomes we have helped produce together to improve the world around us.”

In Brazil, Alcoa Foundation’s support helped EMBARQ - WRI’s Center for Sustainable Transport – to create a Master Transit Plan in Porto Alegre and work closely with officials in Recife, Rio and Brasilia to find sustainable solutions to those cities’ transportation challenges.

Paula Davis, President of Alcoa Foundation, says: “Alcoa and WRI have a strong relationship because we share a dedication to environmental sustainability and community resilience. Over the last 10 years, we have collaborated on significant initiatives in Alcoa communities – from improving the quality of life for Brazilian commuters to implementing a systems change in the way Chinese companies account for their greenhouse gas emissions. We are proud of our partnership and the outcomes we have helped produce together to improve the world around us.”


Douglas R. Oberhelman
Chairman and CEO, Caterpillar

Officials in rapidly growing cities in developing countries have realized that the key to solving the twin problems of congestion and air pollution is improving transportation systems. WRI’s Center for Sustainable Transport – EMBARQ – works with cities around the world to reduce congestion with modern transportation systems and promote mass transit that is safe, clean, convenient and affordable.

Caterpillar makes sustainable progress possible and believes investment in new technologies that enhance mobility is critical to protecting the environment. Caterpillar clean diesel engines produce virtually zero particulate matter. The company also works to retrofit "legacy" products to help reduce their environmental impact, and they have long approved the use of biodiesel blends in their engines with clear customer guidance on applicability. Caterpillar works closely with stakeholders to ensure the smooth introduction of new technologies and the establishment of technical standards for biodiesel and other alternative fuels.

As a complement to the company’s efforts, the Caterpillar Foundation plays an active role in sustainability initiatives and has been supporting EMBARQ since 2006. “We want to help improve the quality of life in the world’s fastest growing cities, so we are pleased to partner with EMBARQ,” said Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Douglas R. Oberhelman, who also serves on WRI’s Board of Directors. “We are actively involved as part of EMBARQ's board of investors and advisors, doing our part to ensure the program is successful, helping identify additional cities, and leveraging our local dealers' involvement as well.”

In China alone, experts predict that 221 cities will have at least one million residents by 2030. This is a huge opportunity to improve the standards of living for millions of people through thoughtful urban planning. In 2011 Caterpillar pledged a five-year $12.5 million grant to WRI’s Sustainable Cities Initiative. This grant will advance the progress of environmentally sustainable and livable cities in China, India and Brazil by partnering with four urban centers. Through Caterpillar’s commitment to WRI’s Sustainable Cities Initiative, a blueprint for efficient urban planning will address, maximizing economic efficiency, minimizing urban sprawl and position pilot cities to become national and international models for sustainability.


Val Smith
Director and Head, Corporate Sustainability

WRI’s partnership with the Citi Foundation continues to span globally across programs. Since 2009, Citi has helped WRI launch new areas of work, including New Ventures, a network that provided business development services to environmentally focused small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets. Today, the Citi Foundation is helping the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities with a groundbreaking initiative to help cities meet local service needs through innovative, effective, and efficient business models. The project, “Delivering Sustainable Urban Services,” is a collaboration with C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the Citi Foundation.

Through this initiative, Citi Foundation and Citi are partnering with WRI to shape the strategy of the Center. WRI is tapping into Citi’s expertise to accelerate work on financial services, new delivery solutions and innovative tools. This approach will complement WRI’s expertise in deep analysis and research to help expand engagement with cities.

This partnership aims to bring solutions to market at the pace and scale needed to address urgent sustainability challenges.


Mitch Jackson
Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Sustainability

In 2011, FedEx and WRI entered into a strategic relationship to support the expansion and improvement of public transportation in developing world cities. The relationship stems from FedEx and WRI’s mutual interest in promoting economic development, sustainability, accessibility, and road safety in three of world’s most important emerging markets, Mexico, Brazil and India.

FedEx will provide $1.4 million over two years to EMBARQ, WRI’s sustainable transport program, to provide technical expertise on sustainable transportation projects that improve quality of life in cities. This grant is a continuation of FedEx’s successful collaboration with EMBARQ’s Center for Sustainable Transport in Mexico (CTS-EMBARQ México), which began in February 2010 with a $500,000 grant to help Mexico City’s Metrobus optimize its vehicle operations.

“We’re excited to scale-up our work with EMBARQ so that we can have an impact not just in Mexico, but also in Brazil and India, two of the world’s fastest growing economies,” said Mitch Jackson, vice president of FedEx Environmental Affairs & Sustainability. “We have a lot of expertise to share. FedEx moves packages and EMBARQ helps cities move people. As a company, FedEx sees the benefits that come from better route design and more efficient, cleaner fuels and vehicles. Now imagine if bus operators and passengers could also enjoy those same benefits? You would have faster commutes, safer streets, and cleaner air. That’s what this collaboration is all about.”

Through workshops, field visits and direct consultation, EMBARQ transport planners and FedEx global experts will team up to provide support to developing cities in fuel and vehicle technologies, vehicle asset management, and real-time user information systems. In addition, to prevent injuries and deaths from traffic collisions, the project in Mexico will work to train hundreds of bus drivers on key safety principles.

Shell Foundation

Chris West
Director, Shell Foundation

WRI has a long-term, close strategic relationship with the Shell Foundation. This centers upon collaboration with EMBARQ – WRI’s Center for Sustainable Transport. Through its global network, EMBARQ implements sustainable urban transport solutions in developing cities. Since co-founding EMBARQ with WRI in 2002, the Shell Foundation has contributed strategic advice, business planning support and multi-million dollar financial support to the Center’s work. EMBARQ’s mission to deliver real solutions at scale through a strategy is fully consistent with Shell Foundation’s objectives.

“Long term strategic partnerships are core to the success of EMBARQ. We are proud to be associated with EMBARQ and the significant impacts achieved to date. We remain committed to supporting the global scale-up and replication of innovative public-private partnerships for transport in cities,” says Chris West, Director of the Shell Foundation.

In November 2009, Harvard University presented the Roy Family Award for Environmental Partnership to EMBARQ, Shell Foundation, and other nonprofit and government partners, recognizing their work in Mexico City in addressing urban mobility problems. This bi-annual award commends outstanding public-private partnerships that enhance environmental quality through the use of novel and creative approaches.

The UPS Foundation

Steven Leffin
Director, Global Sustainability

Following nearly a decade of strong positive engagement between UPS and WRI on the topic of climate change policy, The UPS Foundation and WRI agreed in 2009 to enter into a strategic relationship that focuses on sustainable supply chain management. As a result of the Foundation’s support, WRI is promoting more sustainable corporate practices in China by highlighting and sharing best practices, overseeing the development of greenhouse gas accounting tools, and developing online guidance about which available eco-labels are most relevant to different users.

Steve Leffin, Global Sustainability Director at UPS, says that “The UPS Foundation support for collaborative research and tools development for more sustainable supply chain management is strategic and relevant for our business. In many ways, the sustainability of the goods that we ship is tied to the sustainability of our company. We are pleased with the emphasis that our relationship with WRI gives to China and climate protection.”

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