Andrew Steer's recent travels resonated a common narrative: our current, high-carbon path is not only bad for our planet—it’s bad economics, too. He also witnessed how, at three levels—political, analytical, and practical—global momentum is building for a low-carbon future.
While some companies are stepping forward on climate change policy, many others have remained quiet.
WRI worked with the UN and several esteemed partners on a Caring for Climate report to create a common standard for engaging corporate responsibly in climate policy debates. The guide represents a baseline for action and transparent reporting.
In the Strategic Plan we present WRI’s strategy for the coming four years. We will focus our activities on six global problems that must be addressed urgently this decade. We will do fewer projects at greater depth and scale, seeking tipping points and, together with partners, moving beyond them. And we will invest in creating open-source data, research, and visual information that are suited to today’s fast-paced and networked world. We look forward to working with our partners to tackle today’s urgent challenges and contribute to a more sustainable and prosperous world for all people.
For the first time, the meeting of many of the world’s pre-eminent political and business leaders held an official “Climate Day” to discuss the challenges posed by a warmer world. The day and the Forum’s several events and panels yielded encouraging talk—and the potential for some transformative initiatives.
As 2013 comes to a close, it’s a good time to look back on the impact we’ve made in the world this year.
We made progress on tackling key sustainability challenges, including addressing climate change, promoting clean energy, ensuring food security and stable water supplies, reducing forest degradation, and creating sustainable cities. Take a look at our nine top outcomes:
Three major financial institutions and two of the world’s largest food and beverage companies are driving improved water management using data from Aqueduct’s Water Risk Atlas. This list includes: Anheuser-Busch InBev, the leading global brewer; Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company; LGIM, one of Europe’s largest institutional asset managers; one of the world’s largest banks; and one of the world’s largest pension fund managers.
Water risks—such as floods, drought, and increased competition for scarce water resources—are increasingly chipping into corporate bottom lines. The financial sector is taking notice, as companies and investors seek robust and comprehensive data to inform their decision-making processes. Previously, water risk had not been widely incorporated into financial risk assessments or business strategies, primarily because of a lack of awareness of business vulnerability to water risks, poor data, and uncertainty on how to use what information was available.
In January 2013, WRI launched the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, a comprehensive water risk mapping tool that highlights water risk hotspots for a company’s direct operations and supply chains. Using a scientific approach, the tool is transparent, robust, and is translated into a set of easy-to-use water risk indicators and maps. Within six months from launch, the uptake of Aqueduct’s data by investors and companies has steadily increased, as has use by governments, academic, and civil society groups.
Some of the world’s biggest global companies, funds, and investors are driving improved local water management, thanks Aqueduct’s information. Investors like LGIM are increasingly using Aqueduct water risk data to inform investment decisions, and multinational industry leaders like Nestlé and AB InBev are adopting Aqueduct’s Water Risk Atlas as a critical component of their corporate water strategies. The popularity of the Aqueduct tool provides strong evidence that:
- The investment community’s water-related risk awareness is growing;
- Investors can become key drivers for improved corporate water management worldwide; and
- Major multinational companies are incorporating water into business strategies to drive action on the ground and reduce shared water risks in watersheds.
Multinational companies (MNCs) typically have operations and supply chains in many parts of the world. The way they respond to climate change, therefore, can affect many populations, including poor communities in developing countries, where many people are especially vulnerable to heat waves, sea level rise, and other climate change impacts. MNCs sometimes find themselves in tension with local groups and the environment, but they can also play an important role in making these communities more climate-resilient.
Here are three ways that MNCs can contribute to climate change adaptation in developing countries:
It’s time for businesses and governments to step up to the climate challenge and match words to actions.
This week at the annual international climate talks in Warsaw, companies, policymakers, and civil society participated in an event to deepen business engagement on climate policy. Such interaction could not have come at a more critical time.
Global emissions are on the rise. And last year, climate and extreme weather events alone cost $200 billion.
The world clearly needs to accelerate its response to the climate challenge. Businesses and governments need to work together constructively to raise the level of action and ambition. That means policymakers step up to provide a strong market signal and support, while companies come to the table with clear, public, constructive input.
As the risks that climate change poses to business becoming ever clearer, corporate executives are increasingly recognizing that policy action is essential. The Guide to Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy—from the U.N. Global Compact, U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, U.N. Environment Programme, World Resources Institute, CDP, WWF, Ceres, and The Climate Group—for the first time establishes a shared, practical definition of responsible corporate engagement. The new guide details three essential steps businesses can take to effectively engage in climate policy.