Every day, WRI works to deliver a great transition that is good for people, nature and climate. Time and again, WRI’s research, data platforms, coalitions and communications come together, creating the kind of global reach and deep impact that help shift thinking and decisions, and delivers action.

WRI’s programmatic achievements are a testament to our hundreds of partners across the world, without whom we simply cannot make change that lasts. Following are some examples of WRI’s most impactful programmatic achievements in 2023.

—Carlos Lopes, Global Board member



Using data to illuminate and halt deforestation

Forests are critical ecosystems for fighting climate change, supporting livelihoods and protecting biodiversity. That’s why each year WRI’s Global Forest Watch (GFW), supported by Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, releases the most recent data and analysis of the trends in global forest loss and deforestation.

GFW’s 2023 release of new data from the University of Maryland showed that, despite international commitments to end deforestation, tropical primary forest loss worsened in 2022. The rate of tropical primary forest loss in 2022 was equal to 11 soccer fields of forest per minute, producing carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to India’s annual fossil fuel emissions.

This event captured headlines in more than 115 countries, drawing attention to countries that had only recently signed the Glasgow Declaration to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030.

GFW’s regular release of data brings critical transparency to countries’ progress towards their own commitments. This not only empowers Indigenous communities, NGOs, and everyday citizens, it is also useful to governments trying to do the right thing.

Indeed, the new data did reveal some green shoots: Indonesia, home to some of the world’s largest rainforests, managed to keep rates of primary forest loss near record-low levels, while supporting the livelihoods of more than 50 million people. In 2023, WRI and Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) whereby they will work together on methods for inventorying Indonesia’s forests, land and related emissions using satellite images and fieldwork.

GFW is a powerful example of how WRI uses data to support leaders making progress at the country level and to bring greater transparency to countries not yet living up to their commitments.


Photo: Pantanal region in Brazil.


Implementing WRI’s Five-Year Strategy

After extensive engagement with WRI’s leadership and stakeholders, July marked the formal launch of WRI’s five-year strategy for 2023-2027.

The strategy transitions economic and human systems in WRI’s focus countries. We aim to achieve these transitions in ways that are right for people, nature and climate. Simultaneously addressing these three interconnected goals will create win-wins and lasting impact while reducing the risk of negative trade-offs.

To realize this strategy, WRI is working to transform the three human systems responsible for driving inequality, destroying ecosystems and fueling climate change—food, land and water; energy; and cities.

Through this great transition, we can secure a cleaner, safer, fairer world.



Traffic crashes kill around 1.3 million people in Brazil every year. In 2021, Brazil committed to cut traffic deaths in half by 2030. But traditional approaches are not enough to meet this commitment. In 2020, the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) began working with 10 Brazilian cities—representing more than 6 million residents—to make roads safer. Solutions included building out cycle lanes, making bus stops more accessible, and enforcing speed limits. These actions saved lives: In 2022, the Network cities’ crash mortality rates fell below the state’s average.


The food and land use system is responsible for one-third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As large-scale food providers, hospitals can help. In 2023, WRI’s Coolfood initiative helped 23 hospital systems in the United States shift away from animal- based foods and toward plant-rich foods. Consequently, these hospital systems reduced per-plate food-related GHG emissions by 21%. The benefits extend well beyond climate: Plant-based diets reduce risks of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.


The industrial sector makes up nearly 75% of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Indonesia cannot reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2060 without transforming the industrial sector. At the 2022 Business20 (B20) summit in Bali, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN), WRI Indonesia, and others, launched the Net Zero Hub. The Hub provides business leaders with tools and training to set and meet emissions reduction targets. To date, 80 companies in Indonesia have joined the Hub. Additionally, 10 Southeast Asian countries have established the ASEAN Net Zero Hub.


Madagascar’s forests hold some of the world’s most remarkable biodiversity. Yet even the protected forests face growing threats. In 2019, WRI began training park rangers to use the Global Forest Watch Forest Watcher app. Beginning in three sites, the pilot has since expanded to 24 areas managed by Madagascar National Parks, leading to swifter responses to deforestation. Additionally, WRI research about the Andrefana Dry Forests was central in seeking a World Heritage Site designation. In September, UNESCO officially designated the area a World Heritage Site.




Building a new economy in the Brazilian Amazon

The Amazon is home to one out of every ten species known to science. But in 2021 alone, an area the size of Puerto Rico was lost. If deforestation continues at this pace, the Amazon rainforest
will become a net emitter of carbon, rather than a carbon sink, and countless species will be lost forever.

Deforestation is driven by economies that rely on extraction and exploitation. But there is a better way. A 2023 report by WRI Brasil and the New Climate Economy, entitled “New Economy for the Brazilian Amazon”, finds that, compared to the current development model, decarbonizing Brazil’s Amazon economy could generate an additional:

  • 312,000 jobs
  • R$40 billion in GDP (US$8.2 billion)
  • 81 million hectares of forests, increasing carbon stock by 19%

WRI Brasil and partners launched the report and a set of recommendations in June at the Pan- Amazon Bioeconomy Conference. The report webpage subsequently received more than 50,000 visitors.

The conference was attended by heads of state and ministers of the Amazon countries, as well as representatives of Indigenous Peoples. It ended on a high, with eight countries agreeing to a declaration to protect the Amazon rainforest.

WRI is now forming a Pan-Amazon coalition to foster the exchange of knowledge and learning between key stakeholders. It will also serve as an advisory body for governments and organizations in the region.

This work—supported by the government of Denmark; Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection; Arapyaú Institute; Bezos Earth Fund; Climate and Society Institute; Good Energies Foundation; and Climate and Land Use Alliance—is critical to ensure the momentum continues and that the people of the Amazon can build economic wealth through forest health.


Photo: From left to right: Fernanda Boscaini, Former Acting Country Director, WRI Brasil; Ani Dasgupta, President and CEO, WRI; Gustavo Pinheiro, Former Coordinator of the Instituto Clima e Sociedade.




Many of Indonesia’s Indigenous peoples and local communities depend upon forests, yet they often lack ownership or legal rights to use the forests they inhabit. Through the “Mukim Customary Forest Model,” WRI Indonesia fostered a collaborative process between governments and Indigenous communities. This model helped secure “Mukim Customary Forest” designations for more than 22,000 hectares of land in Aceh province, establishing legal land rights for more than 50,000 people. If approved, eight additional proposals will expand total customary forest designation to 56,988 hectares.


Nature crime—illegal logging, mining, wildlife trade and fishing—destroys ecosystems and harms people. In 2020, WRI set out to build a coalition to fight back. The USAID-funded Nature Crime Alliance was launched in August 2023 and included the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Interpol, and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights International among its founding partners. Helped by a WRI-hosted secretariat, the alliance supports environmental defenders and journalists exposing nature crimes; works with financial regulators to halt financial crimes linked to nature crime; and engages seafood suppliers to strengthen transparency.


The scale of technical and financial assistance needed for vulnerable countries to fulfill their international climate commitments is massive. That’s why, as a co-manager of the NDC Partnership Action Fund, WRI mobilized $46.5 million for low-income countries. As of January 2024, the Fund had disbursed $16.4 million to 54 nations—more than half of which are least developed countries or small island developing states. This unlocked a further $1.7 billion in support. WRI also deployed 21 advisors to help governments integrate their international climate commitments into national plans and budgets.



Indian cities and their residents are at the forefront of climate risks like flooding and extreme heat. Low-income neighborhoods bear the brunt. Nature-based solutions, like adding urban green spaces, can reduce risks and increase resilience, but cities have been slow to act. WRI is working with local governments and community organizations to identify climate-vulnerable locations and apply nature-based solutions in Mumbai, Kochi and Jaipur. These cities have implemented more than 30 nature- based projects in three years, inspiring India’s first national forum on urban nature-based solutions.




Mapping water stress with Aqueduct

In 2023, WRI released new data through the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas showing that at least 50% of the world’s population live under highly water-stressed conditions for at least one month of the year. The data release was covered by media in 78 countries. More than 190,000 people, representing businesses, NGOs, academia and others, visited the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas in the months following.

Reducing water stress makes economic sense: Aqueduct data indicate that by 2050, 31% of global GDP—$70 trillion—will be exposed to high water stress. But WRI research finds that solving global water challenges will only cost about 1% of GDP from 2015 to 2030.

Reducing water stress is doable, but it will take coordinated action:

  • Countries should embrace freshwater systems as a critical part of natural capital; bring water-related climate issues into broader economic and fiscal policy agenda; and improve water governance and financing.
  • Multilateral development banks and other lenders must understand the value of water investments, including economic, social and environmental benefits, as well as avoided climate-related losses; expand their financial envelopes and technical capacity to help countries address water risks; and consider innovative financial solutions, such as strategic debt relief.
  • Cities must look inside and outside their jurisdictions to develop strategies, partnerships and investment plans for water resilience.
  • Companies must understand the impact of their full value chain on freshwater systems, set context-based targets, and support locally-led collective action where water risks are high.

Global demand for water has more than doubled since 1960 and continues to grow. But Aqueduct data, and WRI’s broader freshwater program, offer decision-makers the information they need to make evidence-based choices that can alleviate water stress in future.




Jakarta’s air pollution, extreme heat, and flooding are exacerbated by a lack of greenery. So WRI Indonesia collaborated with Jakarta’s government to protect urban trees and create new parks. Through its Cities4Forests initiative, WRI experts worked with government officials to create two regulations that ensure more equal distribution of green spaces and more effective tree-planting. Jakarta has since established 54 new parks, many of them in areas previously lacking green space, and planted more than 65,000 urban trees. Indonesia’s South Sulawesi local government has since drafted similar regulations.


Many people in India lack access to safe, reliable public transport. Moreover, moving away from cars, and expanding access to public transport, is essential for India to fulfill its commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2070. That’s why WRI India experts embedded with India’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to provide technical assistance with the procurement of e-buses. In August 2023, India’s national government announced $2.4 billion to deploy and operate 10,000 e-buses across up to 169 cities. More than 170 million residents are expected to benefit, almost half of them women.




A roadmap to closing the global gap in climate action

The State of Climate Action 2023 report found that while there is progress in some areas, global efforts lag significantly behind the pace and scale necessary. This sobering news was covered by media in more than 50 countries.

Across the 42 indicators assessed, only one—the share of electric vehicles in passenger car sales—is on track to reach its 2030 target. Of the other 41 indicators:

  • Six indicators are “off track,” moving in the right direction at a promising but insufficient speed;
  • 24 indicators are “well off track,” heading in the right direction but well below the required pace;
  • Six indicators are headed in the wrong direction entirely, such that a U-turn in action is required;
  • Five indicators have insufficient data to track progress.

The report informed the Paris Agreement’s first Global Stocktake, whereby countries gather every five years to assess the global response to the climate crisis, providing a comprehensive roadmap to close the GHG emissions gap and limit global warming to 1.5°C. Analysis found the world must:

  • Increase growth in solar and wind power. The share of solar and wind power in electricity generation has been growing by an annual average of 14 percent. This must reach 24 percent.
  • Phase out coal in electricity generation seven times faster than current rates.
  • Expand the coverage of rapid transit infrastructure six times faster.
  • Reduce the annual rate of deforestation four times faster over this decade.
  • Shift to healthier, more sustainable diets eight times faster.

The report was published by Systems Change Lab, a collaborative effort of the Bezos Earth Fund, Climate Action Tracker (a project of Climate Analytics and NewClimate Institute), ClimateWorks Foundation, the United Nations Climate Change High-Level Champions and WRI.