Each year, we evaluate the impact of our work in four sustainable development goal areas and announce our top ten outcomes. Each is a glimpse of what’s possible when we work together as a global community.
You can view these and our other top ten outcomes from 2005 and 2006 on our Interactive Outcomes Map.
Aligning Investment with Sustainability
In 2007, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a group of 275 faith-based institutional investors with a combined market portfolio of more than $10 billion, filed a shareholder resolution requiring Newmont Mining Corporation to produce a report addressing community-based opposition to its operations around the world. Activists have criticized Newmont, one of the world’s largest gold miners, for environmental problems in indigenous communities. In an unprecedented move for a U.S. mining company, Newmont’s directors and shareholders approved the resolution. It’s the first step toward Newmont developing new procedures for involving local communities in determining how its development projects might affect their land or way of life. WRI worked with the Interfaith Coalition to help members better understand how the informed consent of a community affected by development projects makes good business sense and leads to more equitable, environmentally-friendly results.
Greening the Capital Markets
Four years ago, few financial firms factored climate change impacts into their operations. Now, due in large part to WRI’s work to examine the risks and opportunities that climate change is creating for business, industry leaders such as ABN AMRO, Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, and Lehman Brothers are committing significant resources and billions of dollars toward cleaner technologies and climate change solutions. What started as “boutique research” is now a mainstream issue. WRI believes that financial markets attuned to environmental issues will create powerful incentives for companies to improve their environmental performance, while also ensuring better returns for investors.
A National GHG Reduction Strategy
Mexico currently ranks twelfth in the world in terms of GHG emissions. Although not bound by Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions limits, the country is committed to fighting global warming. Mexico’s new climate change strategy proposes a graduated process that begins with GHG accounting and reporting, progresses to energy sector GHG caps, and culminates in a national cap-and-trade system linked to international GHG markets. WRI provided the GHG Protocol accounting tools that undergird the policy and provided technical consultation to the Mexican government. WRI also helped launch a Mexican industry-led voluntary GHG accounting program in 2004. WRI is working with partner organizations to replicate the model in Brazil, China, India, and the Philippines.
Clean Urban Transport
Transportation is quite literally the engine of economic growth in large congested cities throughout the developing world. EMBARQ – the WRI Center for Sustainable Transport – is working to bring cleaner, more efficient transportation systems to these cities. With assistance from EMBARQ and other national and international organizations, India’s Ministry of Urban Development is implementing the country’s first-ever national urban transportation policies. Cities and states that adopt the policies become eligible for financial assistance from a new $11 billion government program, Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, to support sustainable transport projects. The policies are a significant step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving India’s vision of making its cities the most productive and livable in the world.
Accelerating the U.S. Response to Climate Change
In early 2007, the politics of climate change experienced a tectonic shift when the CEOs of ten major corporations and four national environmental groups – including WRI – joined together in calling on the U.S. government to quickly enact strong national legislation requiring significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) and its bold proposals have advanced the policy debate in Congress. As USCAP membership grows (now at thirty one participating organizations representing over 2 million people in membership and over $2 trillion in market capitalization) so does the number of climate bills introduced. WRI was instrumental in the formation of USCAP, which is the result of a ten-year effort to engage the private sector in the design of business strategies and market-based policies to achieve strong national GHG reduction goals.
Reducing Forest Fire Threats
Indonesia’s Kalimantan Province on the island of Borneo is a resource rich region subject to forest fires that regularly break out during dry spells because of the spread of illegal land-clearing fires. Indonesia is the fourth largest global emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, and forest fires are a significant contributor to these emissions. A new “fire atlas” produced by WRI, its local partners, and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry is helping the government do a better job of monitoring fires and land clearing, thereby enabling the government to shift money and resources to at-risk protected areas. The next step is a fire atlas for the entire country.
WRI’s New Ventures project identifies, mentors, and provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to investment. New Ventures operates in five of the world’s most vibrant emerging economies – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico – where current business and development trends will impact the entire world. In 2007, New Ventures Mexico launched an independent institution – Centro de Negocios Sustentables. With a $400,000 grant from Mexico’s Ministry of Economics, the Center, the first of its kind in Mexico, provides sustainable SMEs with a wide range of services from business acceleration and incubation to market access through the Green Pages. Since its founding, New Ventures has provided comprehensive support to over 150 entrepreneurs and facilitated $38 million in investments for sustainable companies.
Fighting Illegal Logging
Illegal logging in Central Africa results in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue each year, exacerbates poverty in forest-dependent communities, accelerates forest ecosystem degradation and undermines efforts to invest in long-term sustainable forest management. WRI, in collaboration with the International Conservation Union and the Inter-African Forest Industries Association, developed a set of legality standards that assesses if timber products produced and exported in Central Africa are legal. Those legality indicators are now being used by governments of forest-rich countries in Central Africa for establishing their own national standards, notably in view of satisfying European Union regulations which will soon require that all imported timber products come from legal sources. In addition, WRI works with those governments to map and monitor their logging concessions and protected areas.
Red and Blue States Go Green
The first step in addressing the challenge of climate change is to define a consistent way to measure its causes. In April 2007, thirty-four U.S. states formed the Climate Registry to measure, track, verify, and publicly report GHG emissions accurately, transparently, and consistently across borders and industry sectors. The Registry will support voluntary, market-based, and regulatory GHG emissions reporting programs. The states joining represent 78% of the U.S. population, with impressive geographic, economic, and political diversity. WRI played a pivotal role in helping to convene this initiative and by providing technical consulting. Ideally, these standards and strategies will help support and provide a common template for federal climate change policies and programs. Find out more …
Giving Citizens an Environmental Voice
Despite its small size, Ecuador is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries. Political instability, though, has led to weak environmental laws and few opportunities for citizens to participate in decisions about the management of the country’s rich natural resources. A new law now requires the government to consult citizens on environmental matters. It’s the result of a long process undertaken by WRI and Ecolex, a non-profit organization in Ecuador focused on sustainable development. Together we identified weaknesses in Ecuador’s laws regulating public access to environmental information, participation, and justice. This assessment was followed by multi-stakeholder workshops which led to the creation of draft legislation approved by the Ministry of Environment and signed into law by the president.