WRI initiated major bus reforms to improve public transportation in Bangalore, Karnataka, Ahmedabad, Bhopal and Surat and held car-free events in five Indian cities. During these "Raahgiri Days," cities closed streets to motorized vehicles for several hours to encourage walking, cycling and outdoor recreation, showing citizens that streets are for pedestrians and cyclists, not just cars.
With India’s urban population expected to grow to 590 million by 2030 and personal vehicle use on the rise, other forms of transportation suffer. Buses, India’s main public transit option, use outdated and inefficient systems, resulting in long commutes. Roads are unsafe: Pedestrians and bicyclists account for as much as 60 percent of road deaths in Indian cities. More personal motor vehicles cause traffic congestion and air pollution. Indian cities need improved transportation alternatives to decrease motorization and improve the urban quality of life.
WRI initiated major bus reforms to improve public transportation in four Indian cities. In Bangalore, WRI helped put in place a modern bus route system, a reform Indian cities had tried to implement for 20 years. WRI also aided in introducing city buses in seven cities in Karnataka. In 2013, WRI worked with transportation agencies in Ahmedabad, Bhopal and Surat to launch India’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) systems, where a lane is dedicated to buses, letting them travel faster. This year, WRI collaborated with the cities’ transport agencies to help design and train the operators to run 53 additional kilometers of BRT.
To make cities more walkable and bikeable, WRI held car-free events in five Indian cities, including Delhi and Navi Mumbai. For these events, called Raahgiri Days, cities closed streets to motorized vehicles for several hours to encourage walking, cycling and outdoor recreation, showing urban residents that city streets are for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as for cars.
Better bus systems and the Raahgiri movement have made life better for Indian city dwellers. Bangalore’s new bus network reduced travel times and improved public transport for approximately 150,000 passengers daily. Since implementing BRTs in three Indian cities, fatal accidents have decreased by 50 percent around BRT corridors, particulate air pollution has decreased by 20 percent, and a quarter of motor vehicle users have switched to public transportation. The Raahgiri phenomenon has changed how people perceive cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in Indian cities. .
The New York Declaration on Forests set a global target to restore 350 million hectares of deforested and degraded forest landscapes by 2030. WRI and IUCN helped get consensus on the long-term goal, encouraged national leaders to announce country-specific contributions, and developed maps and analyses documenting restoration's benefits in some countries.
We all depend on forests for water, food, livelihoods, shelter, wood products and medicines, as well as to stabilize weather and climate and support biodiversity. Yet since the dawn of agriculture, nearly 30 percent of global forests have been cleared, with another 20 percent degraded, making billions of hectares underproductive.
In 2011, signatories to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) committed to restore 15 percent of all degraded ecosystems by 2020. Also in 2011, the Bonn Challenge sought to restore 150 million hectares by 2020. But few governments would commit to specific restoration targets without knowing how much land could be restored, where it was, or what the economic and social benefits might be.
WRI and partners, notably the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), worked with the 2014 UN Climate Summit organizers to get forest landscape restoration on the agenda. The two organizations helped build upon previous targets to get consensus on a longer-term restoration goal, and they encouraged national leaders to announce country-specific contributions. With support from the German government, WRI and IUCN developed national-level maps and analyses for some countries, documenting restoration’s benefits and showing which lands might most feasibly be restored.
On September 23, 2014, the New York Declaration on Forests was announced with 130 signatories from government, civil society, indigenous peoples and companies, setting a global target to restore 350 million hectares of deforested and degraded forest landscapes by 2030. The same day, Ethiopia, Colombia, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala and Chile committed to contribute 28 million hectares toward the new target, building on 20 million hectares pledged earlier. These contributions make it more likely that countries will commit domestic resources and international funding sources will support their efforts, building momentum for a game-changing global restoration movement.
Bloomberg incorporated data from WRI's Aqueduct water risk platform into its mapping tool; MSCI began using Aqueduct to measure risks for utilities and oil, gas and chemical companies; and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board recommended that companies use Aqueduct to measure water stress. IKEA and GDF Suez used Aqueduct information in their in-house risk analyses.
Water risks like stress and variable supply threaten everything from agriculture to industry to energy production. Already, 69 countries and one-quarter of the world’s cropland face high water stress. These challenges will likely become more severe as competition for water increases and climate change shifts precipitation patterns.
The World Economic Forum identified global water crises as one of the top five global risks for businesses. Without tools to evaluate these risks and inform management plans, businesses’ bottom lines will suffer.
Aqueduct provides the most up-to-date water risk data and analysis for countries and water basins around the world. This year, private sector investment analysis tools began incorporating Aqueduct data, while leading businesses and banks used the tool to identify risks and set efficiency targets.
WRI worked with Bloomberg to incorporate Aqueduct information into its mapping tool, while MSCI, a leading provider of investment decision support tools, began using Aqueduct data to measure risks across hundreds of utilities and oil, gas and chemical companies. The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), a non-profit organization that helps corporations disclose information to investors, recommended that public companies use Aqueduct to measure water stress. And major corporations like IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer, and GDF Suez, a multinational electric utility company, have used Aqueduct information in their in-house risk analyses.
With private sector investment analysis tools now incorporating Aqueduct data, WRI is helping to make water risk analyses more mainstream. Bloomberg has more than 320,000 users around the world, MSCI has more than 6,000 clients, and SASB works with hundreds of businesses every year.
These businesses, banks and investors now have the analysis they need to help mitigate water risks and improve their own water management — which will benefit the planet and their own bottom lines. IKEA is now targeting its water-efficiency projects in its stores and distribution centers in highly water-stressed areas.
WRI, C40, and ICLEI created the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC). Over the last two years, more than 100 cities have used the GPC to measure and reduce their emissions. Specifically, WRI worked with partners to provide technical support to 15 Latin American cities and 12 Chinese cities.
Cities already contribute about 70 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. With 70 percent of the global population projected to live in cities by 2050, the situation is poised to worsen. To manage these emissions, we need to measure them, know where they come from, and know what drives them—and that requires a robust tool to accurately measure and track them over time.
Over the last two years, more than 100 cities across the globe have used the GPC to measure emissions and take actions. Specifically, WRI worked with partners to provide technical support to 15 Latin American cities and 12 Chinese cities.
In Latin America, WRI worked with the Inter-American Development Bank, the Andean Cities Footprint Project and other partners to provide technical advice and train local practitioners on how to use the GPC. In China, WRI experts provided technical support to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the China Beijing Environment Exchange, the Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion and more. Collectively, WRI trained more than 200 city officials and practitioners in these regions.
These 27 cities currently emit about 460 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, about 1 percent of the global total. They now have the tool they need to start reducing these emissions, a move that will help curb climate change globally.
The Latin American cities have identified more than 200 actions they can take to lower their emissions, while the Chinese cities are using the GPC to track progress toward their emissions-reduction goals. WRI continues to support them to translate their goals and plans into action, which collectively can avoid 77 million tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2050, about the equivalent of Portugal’s current annual emissions.
The UN proposed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate extreme poverty, placing economic transformation and environmental sustainability at the center of the agenda. WRI and 10 other institutes in the Independent Research Forum (IRF) on the Post-2015 Development Agenda organized discussions with negotiators of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs and provided recommendations.
At the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), governments concluded that the world needed a more ambitious, universal global development agenda after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015. To meet the challenge of eradicating poverty and expanding the global economy while protecting the environment, the new agenda needed to go beyond the MDGs to more deeply engage the private sector, local governments and civil society. Reaching such a consensus on this complex, politically charged issue required that negotiators shift from the formal UN process to substantive discussions about a strengthened successor to the MDGs.
WRI and 10 other institutes in the Independent Research Forum (IRF) on the Post-2015 Development Agenda organized a series of informal retreats for negotiators of the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), together with other UN Member States and senior UN officials. The retreats created a safe space to discuss the complex, potentially divisive questions of how to make the goals apply to all countries, and how to integrate social, economic and environmental sustainability. WRI’s analysis and facilitation, together with IRF, helped provide an opportunity for dialogue rather than negotiations, and allowed participants to test ideas and identify solutions. WRI’s project teams also gave regular input, providing concrete recommendations on global targets for sustainable food systems, energy, water, terrestrial ecosystems, oceans, climate change, cities, sustainable growth, sustainable consumption and production, and governance.
The Open Working Group Outcome Document, adopted in July 2014, proposes 17 ambitious SDGs. The SDGs mark a shift from the MDGs, aiming to eradicate extreme poverty in all its forms and placing economic transformation and environmental sustainability on equal footing at the center of the agenda. All countries will need to take action to implement the agenda, and civil society and the private sector will also be critical to the SDGs’ success. With one more year until the SDGs are due to be adopted at a UN Summit in September 2015, WRI stands ready to continue its support.
WRI coordinated a global partnership of economic and climate research institutes to write a landmark report on the New Climate Economy. The report presented a compelling, fact-based narrative about how economic growth and climate action can—and must—be achieved together.
For as long as climate action has been a global concern, governments and businesses have assumed that curbing greenhouse gas emissions would come with prohibitive economic costs. Shifting this misperception is critical to helping countries take action on climate change.
WRI coordinated a global partnership of economic and climate research institutes to write a landmark report on the New Climate Economy, focusing on how economic growth and climate action can be achieved together. As managing partner, WRI assembled the research team, recruited a global commission, and secured the support and funding of seven commissioning countries.WRI was asked to lead the effort based on its reputation for rigorous, unbiased analysis and ability to convene high-level dialogues.
Former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón and Lord Nicholas Stern guided the project through a global commission of 24 former presidents and prime ministers, finance ministers, current mayors, CEOs and heads of major economic institutions. The team crafted a thoroughly researched global report and 10-point Action Plan, which the commissioners unanimously endorsed.
WRI’s Communications team worked with a global network to drive an international launch of the report in September 2014, garnering more than 1,600 media stories in the first days, including commentaries by some of the world’s most influential economic and financial opinion-makers. Within days, commissioners launched the report in New York, Oslo, Addis Ababa, Beijing and Johannesburg. Released just before the UN Climate Summit, the message became central to the narrative delivered by heads of state, negotiators and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The report presented a compelling, fact-based narrative about how economic growth and climate action can—and must—be achieved together, delivered by trusted thought leaders on a global scale. Changing the discourse around climate action during the UN Climate Summit and reaching billions of people through the media have already changed thinking. The report’s long-term impact will be evident as heads of government, ministers of finance and CEOs use the recommendations to shape their policy decisions. Engagement with key countries and sectors is planned for the coming year.
EMBARQ Brasil provided technical assistance to the transportation agencies of Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia—three of Brazil’s largest and most traffic-congested cities—to design and implement bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. In 2014, 154 kilometers of high-quality BRT corridors were launched, cutting 1.5 million people’s commute times by 50 percent.
Brazil is the sixth-largest economy in the world, and 85 percent of its citizens are urban dwellers. However, Brazilian mega-cities suffer from poor transportation design and infrastructure, increasingly relying on cars and motorcycles as people become more affluent. Every day, millions of cars flood Brazil’s streets, resulting in traffic congestion, road fatalities and air pollution. Meanwhile, inefficient, low-quality bus services cause long, uncomfortable commutes. Bus rides that would take 40 minutes in an efficient system take more than twice that in Brazil’s urban areas. These problems are compounded by the country’s booming urban population.
Starting in 2010, WRI’s Brazilian transport arm, EMBARQ Brasil, provided technical assistance to the transportation agencies of Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia — three of Brazil’s largest and most traffic-congested cities — to design and implement bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. BRTs incorporate bus-only traffic lanes with large, state-of-the-art buses to provide fast, high-quality service.
In each city, EMBARQ Brasil convened bus companies and operators, agency officials, and other major stakeholders to plan and invest in BRT networks. It also hosted workshops, giving those who will implement the projects a chance to learn from BRT experts and put these lessons to use in operation manuals and contingency plans. With extensive experience in BRT, EMBARQ Brasil provided technical expertise to design the actual systems, placing as much emphasis on safety, accessibility and low emissions as on speed and efficiency. EMBARQ Brasil experts then trained the system operators.
In 2014, 154 kilometers of high-quality BRT corridors were launched in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia. These systems cut 1.5 million people’s commute times by 50 percent, and millions of city residents benefited from safer roads and cleaner air. The success of the BRT systems has motivated the governments of all three cities to continue to expand the networks, with an additional 211 kilometers of BRT in the planning and early implementation stages. These projects provide a model of transportation reform, empowering and inspiring other Brazilian cities to achieve sustainable urban mobility.
Launched in 2014, the Green Climate Fund offers an ambitious platform for contributions and investments in climate mitigation and adaptation in the developing world. WRI worked with the GCF secretariat and Board and a large number of partners and stakeholders to help shape the Fund's structure.
Providing finance to support developing countries’ efforts to respond to a changing climate is a key challenge of the 21st century. To meet this challenge, it is essential to find new ways to raise funds and invest in projects that curb emissions and build resilience to the climate impacts that are already unavoidable.
WRI’s finance team has provided technical and analytical work to the GCF from inception in 2011 through launch in 2014. Unlike previous major multilateral climate funds, the Green Climate Fund has a broad base of contributors among both developed and developing countries. Its 24 Board members are balanced between developed and developing countries, and its administration is lean.
The Fund is designed to work through partners, such as national development banks and the World Bank. Private sector involvement is also central to the Fund, which has the flexibility to use innovative financial instruments to encourage private companies to help tackle climate change, thereby stretching GCF resources.
The WRI team has sought to support the GCF management and Board to help ensure that ambition and rigor were built in to GCF design, so the Fund can deliver value for money to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
As pledges of support flow in, the Fund’s investment framework lets it set priorities about how money can be invested for maximum impact. The Fund’s structure enables it to extend its reach through a wide array of partners, balanced between national and international institutions, while ensuring that all partners meet high fiduciary, environmental and social standards.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) created GHG accounting and reporting guidelines for 10 industries, using the GHG Protocol’s (GHGP) framework and methodologies created by WRI and WBCSD. In 2014, NDRC mandated GHG reporting for more than 20,000 companies and organizations, all of which will measure and manage emissions based on GHGP guidelines.
China’s size and rapid growth have made it an economic powerhouse. Yet it’s come at a cost: China is the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitter, burning almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined. The country’s energy and manufacturing sectors account for more than 80 percent of its energy consumption.
Despite Chinese companies’ role in fueling climate change, most do not measure or manage their greenhouse gas emissions.
WRI, in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), created the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Corporate Standard, a framework for companies to consistently, accurately account for and reduce emissions. In 2013, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) created GHG accounting and reporting guidelines for 10 industries, using the GHG Protocol’s framework and methodologies as a reference. In 2014, NDRC mandated GHG reporting for more than 20,000 companies and organizations, all of which will measure and manage emissions based on guidelines mentioned above. Companies reporting their emissions as part of China’s pilot Emission Trading Scheme (ETS)—which comprises five cities and two provinces—will also use the standards.
Since 2009, WRI has organized regular workshops and training with NDRC and local officials to make the case for mandatory emissions reporting. WRI worked closely with the China Business Council for Sustainable Development and the China Electricity Council to develop GHG accounting methodologies specifically for the chemical and power sectors. And WRI experts advised on the development of online GHG reporting systems for Jiangsu Province, Guangdong Province and Qingdao city.
NDRC has laid the political and technical groundwork for a national GHG reporting program. It will raise companies’ awareness on carbon management and help the government track emissions performance. Measuring emissions is the first step in getting companies to reduce them. If China — the world’s biggest emitter — can decrease its corporate sector emissions, it would help prevent warming globally.
What’s more, a robust GHG reporting program is imperative for creating a national emissions trading scheme, which is a key policy instrument for China to mitigate GHG emissions.
WRI in partnership with 50 organizations launched Global Forest Watch (GFW) in February 2014. The online platform uses satellite and other data to track forest cover change in near-real time. It has catalyzed a dramatic increase in action against unsustainable and illegal forest practices, and governments and businesses are using GFW to improve forest management transparency and accountability.
The world lost nearly 13 million hectares of forest—an area roughly the size of England—every year between 2000 and 2010. Agriculture and logging were largely responsible, which in turn led to higher greenhouse gas emissions, regional haze, water pollution and a decline in biodiversity. The lack of timely, reliable data on what is happening in forests, where degradation is occurring, and who is responsible makes it difficult to prevent further deforestation.
In 2011, WRI began building a network that’s grown to 50 organizations to create a publicly accessible, user-friendly, online tool to provide accurate, up-to-date data on the status of the world’s forests.
Global Forest Watch’s (GFW) launch event in February 2014 offered a window on global tree cover loss and gain, and provided national statistics, tree cover loss alerts and vast amounts of other information. By July, two new applications were also available: GFW Commodities, which shows the impact of palm oil suppliers and other commodities on forests, and GFW Fires, which monitors and analyzes forest fires across Southeast Asia.
While WRI led this work, the mobilization of a path-breaking partnership was central to its success. Partners include the University of Maryland, Google, Esri, Center for Global Development, Imazon, GFW Canada, ScanEx, Transparent World, Jane Goodall Institute, CartoDB, Vizzuality and Blueraster. Major funding came from Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, USAID, Global Environment Facility , DFID, Tilia Fund, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Sida, Bobolink Foundation and Danida.
GFW has catalyzed a dramatic increase in action against unsustainable and illegal forest practices. Governments and businesses are using GFW to improve forest management transparency and accountability. The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil has used GFW to help members disclose where palm oil companies operate. Indonesia, a core partner, uses GFW Fire’s ultra-high resolution images to crack down on illegal burning. And the tool has received worldwide attention, with more than 450,000 unique visitors, more than 1,200 media stories, and countless interactions via social media.