2015 At a Glance
WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities helps create livable, sustainable cities that are able to respond to the challenge of mounting pressure on natural resources and urban populations that are expected to grow by 2.5 billion by mid-century.
In 2015, our sustainable mobility initiative, EMBARQ, delivered knowledge and support for high-quality, equitable transport, supporting multimillion dollar financing in Peru, Chile and Colombia; $150 million for integrated transport in Mexico City; and $4 billion to 56 Brazilian cities. WRI Ross Center also helped 10 million people in India reclaim their streets through car-free days. New public-private partnerships, including an advisory group of mayors and leaders from business, philanthropy, development and non-governmental organizations, put us on track to help 200 cities by 2019. Shaping a global dialogue on urbanization, WRI Ross Center is leading the next edition of our flagship World Resources Report on sustainable cities.
WRI’s Climate team leads ground-breaking analysis, convenes high-trust partners, and advocates for strong climate actions to reduce emissions and enhance resilience of vulnerable populations.
Leading up to Paris, the ACT 2015 consortium, facilitated by WRI staff, developed key recommendations to help countries forge the Paris Agreement. The team developed a guide to national climate commitments, known as INDCs, and worked with developing countries to help create and submit their climate plans. WRI’s CAIT Climate Data Explorer tracked and analyzed each contribution as it was submitted. The team analyzed climate actions of key economies, including research showing that the proposed U.S. climate commitment was ambitious and achievable. With our partners, including the Compact of Mayors, WRI secured commitments from over 400 cities to measure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, using the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories. By December 2015, our Science Based Targets initiative helped more than 114 businesses commit to set ambitious emissions reductions targets.
WRI’s Energy team works to expand access to affordable, reliable clean power by promoting innovative changes in utility business models. Through greater transparency and accountability in electricity planning, utilities can deliver more sustainable energy to the largest industrial consumers and bring it to underserved populations.
In 2015, WRI joined its corporate partners through the Green Power Market Development Group in India and the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles in the United States to leverage collective demand for renewable energy. The team worked with utilities to shape innovative buying models, such as green tariffs, that open new markets for renewable power. Last year, 32 new companies signed on to the Buyers’ Principles, bringing the total to 51. With our civil society partners, WRI used data to make the demand for electricity clear to energy planners and entrepreneurs, so they can bring clean energy solutions to the people who need them.
WRI’s Food program advances solutions to feed nearly 10 billion people in 2050 in a manner that enables economic development while reducing environmental impacts.
In 2015, the team released more installments of the World Resources Report, Creating a Sustainable Food Future, covering topics such as improving rice production, reducing biofuel demand for food crops and land, and ensuring that crop area expansion is limited to land with low environmental opportunity costs. The Consumer Goods Forum announced a Food Waste Resolution committing its members to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2025 that will use the forthcoming Food Loss & Waste Protocol being developed by WRI and partners. WRI’s research also helped inform the Sustainable Development Goals target to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030.
The Forests team uses high-resolution, high-frequency data to reveal where trees are being lost and to improve forest management worldwide. We work closely with companies, governments and communities to stop illegal logging and restore degraded landscapes to productivity.
In 2015, WRI and our partners launched Africa 100 (AFR 100) initiative to restore 100 million hectares (247 million acres) in Africa and deepened our work on Initiative 20x20 to restore over 20 million hectares (nearly 50 million acres) of land across Latin America. Global Forest Watch, convened by WRI, transformed access to information about forests around the globe with dramatic results in combating fires and toxic smog in Southeast Asia. The Forest Legality Alliance continues to advance the implementation and enforcement of the U.S. Lacey Act and other laws, helping to prevent illegal wood sales in the United States and illegal logging in Indonesia, Peru, Russia and elsewhere.
WRI Water team provides research, data and cutting-edge analytical tools to pinpoint and minimize growing water risks that affect 1 billion people around the world now and could affect 3.5 billion people by 2025.
In 2015, WRI’s Aqueduct online platform, the world’s most comprehensive, high-resolution, publicly available water risk information source, released the Global Flood Analyzer, finding that river flooding threatens 21 million people and $96 billion in GDP each year. Hundreds of leading companies and investors, including Morgan Stanley, Bloomberg, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Unilever use Aqueduct to understand and mitigate water risk in their planning and investments, while the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre uses it to train local disaster officials. In China, the team validated benefits and helped motivate cities and the national government to move to sludge-to-energy wastewater treatment systems that reduce pollution, cut greenhouse gas emissions and provide a clean source of power. Ten U.S. states committed to improve water quality using recommendations from a groundbreaking publication by WRI and partners.
The Business Center leverages the power of the private sector to find solutions to the world’s biggest challenges and works with WRI’s programs to engage companies in helping to advance our six priority goals.
In 2015, our staff advised senior executives on how to demonstrate climate leadership through responsible lobbying and carbon pricing; researched opportunities to improve environmental supply chain performance in the agriculture sector; developed thought leadership about business opportunities at the water-energy nexus; and laid the foundation for new work establishing business impact targets aligned with science. We collaborated with leaders across industry sectors and formed powerful partnerships for impact.
The Economics Center supports the design and implementation of WRI programs with rigorous economic analysis. It also leads the flagship New Climate Economy project, for which WRI is the managing partner.
In 2015, the New Climate Economy’s core message—that low-carbon development offers many economic opportunities—was disseminated widely through over 8,000 media articles in over 100 countries, and through public events and bilateral discussions, with over 50 heads of state and government ministers. This engagement helped shift the international discourse and influenced national policy in countries as diverse as Colombia, India, China and Ethiopia. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, the international initiative behind the New Climate Economy, released a report that showed climate action is in countries’ economic self-interest, highlighting 10 key areas of opportunity that could achieve as much as 96 percent of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to hold global warming under 2 degrees C. It identified multiple ways in which low-carbon momentum is already leading to better and more equitable economic growth.
To shift global financial flows so they support sustainable development, the Finance Center works with governments and institutions to expand public and private investments in low-carbon, climate resilient initiatives.
In 2015, WRI co-chaired the Green Finance Task Force under the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), offering policy recommendations for the 2016 G20 summit, hosted by China. The team also helped craft a robust methodology to track developed countries’ $100 billion annual commitment to climate finance. Following the Board’s decision to integrate environmental, social and governance factors into investment decisions for WRI’s endowment, the Finance team developed a new investment strategy for the Institute. WRI is beginning to work with like-minded institutional investors to inform—and assist with—their investment strategies.
WRI’s governance mission is to empower people and strengthen institutions to foster environmentally sound and socially equitable decision making.
The Governance Center works in close collaboration with WRI’s Climate, Energy and Forests programs and WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities to deliver joint outcomes, along with tools and analysis to inform policy and practice on environmental governance. In 2015, the Access Initiative (TAI), a network of civil society organizations working on environmental rights for which WRI acts as the secretariat, launched the Environmental Democracy Index (EDI). EDI is the first online platform that tracks and scores countries’ progress in enacting national laws that promote transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in environmental decision-making. The Center’s Land Rights and Resources initiative worked with 13 partners to launch LandMark, a new global platform with maps and other information on indigenous and community land.