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A Message from WRI President, Andrew Steer
We live at a critical time in history.
Never before have we seen the rate of progress of the past two decades. Real incomes in developing countries have doubled, global poverty rates have halved, and life expectancy has risen by four years. Africa, regarded as a failing continent 20 years ago, has for the past decade been growing more rapidly than today’s advanced economies did during their industrial revolutions.
But, in achieving these gains, no two decades have also borrowed so much from future generations. Debts incurred are not only financial–they are also ecological.
Each year the world has been losing 13 million hectares of forest – an area the size of Mississippi. A third of the world’s population already faces some form of water scarcity, and this is expected to double by 2050. Global carbon emissions continue to rise, when they urgently need to fall, and even the conservative World Bank is now projecting a rise in average global temperature of 4 degrees Celsius, with massive costs to humanity, and especially the poor.
The “good news, bad news” tension will continue as the global middle class rises from 2 billion today to 5 billion in 2030 – doubling the number of automobiles in the world, and fundamentally affecting global consumption and energy patterns.
Is it possible to continue to generate jobs, reduce poverty, and grow the global economy, but in an ecologically sustainable manner, respecting planetary boundaries and social cohesion? And how can it be done in a world of vested interests and complex politics? These are the exam questions that WRI’s teams of experts seek to address every day. We believe that there is a sustainable model for continued rapid progress. And, indeed, it is only by focusing on sustainability that continued rapid progress is possible at all.
Count It, Change It, Scale It.
To make the needed transition towards a more sustainable future we need better data and analysis, breakthrough ideas that are demonstrated to succeed, persuasively communicated to citizens and decision makers, then scaled for real effect. This is WRI’s day job.
Since taking the helm at WRI four months ago, I have had the opportunity to meet and talk with many of WRI’s partners and supporters around the globe. Everywhere I have gone, I have seen firsthand the hunger for WRI’s sound analysis, tools, and unique ability to forge new coalitions to push for action on the ground. WRI and its partners truly are shifting the ways governments work, companies operate, and people act. Consider the following:
Roughly two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies use WRI’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol to measure and manage their GHG emissions. Our newest version allows companies to identify “hot spots” along their supply and customer chains that they can target to lower their greenhouse gas emissions even more.
Our Aqueduct project has successfully partnered with some of the world’s largest companies and local governments to map water risk in major watersheds. This helps them make more informed investment and water-management decisions. In 2013, Aqueduct will expand into a worldwide water-mapping tool.
WRI’s Global Forest Watch 2.0, to be launched in Spring 2013, uses new technologies like MODIS satellite mapping, cloud computing, open-source software, and a Google platform to show forest cover change at high resolution across the entire planet. Data which previously took years to obtain will be available in near real-time, at no cost, to anybody, anywhere, with a laptop or mobile phone. This has the potential to revolutionize forest conservation by empowering NGOs, the media, and progressive public and private leaders to better battle deforestation.
This game-changing work is possible only because of your support. Thank you for your previous support of WRI. I hope you will consider matching or increasing your investment in WRI this year.
Andrew Steer, WRI President