Letter from the Chairman & President

2015 was a troubled but pivotal year. Media reports were full of the migrant crisis, geopolitical instability and an upsurge in terrorism. Markets were tremendously volatile and the global economy stumbled. But 2015 was also a year of hope: the year when nations of the world came together around a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years and the potentially game-changing Paris Agreement on climate.

In a year that once again was by a significant margin the hottest in the modern record, a new multilateralism seemed to emerge, suggesting a greater level of cooperation among nations than we’ve seen in decades.

James A. Harmon

Chairman of the Board

WRI was privileged to be at the heart of this development. Years of work by our experts came together in 2015 in the elements of a climate agreement and in several of the most important SDGs. Our proposals were embraced because they built on our core strength—data-based analysis that takes the long view—and on our global reach and relationships with policymakers. Members of our team were closely involved with country delegations over the long haul, up to the final moments of COP21. They laid the groundwork more than a year earlier by convening an international consortium of climate experts to frame the specifics of a successful climate plan in an initiative called ACT 2015. The language of that initiative proved extraordinarily useful as the agreement was hammered out.

Given the importance of these international negotiations, WRI brought our full strength to the table in an effort to encourage cooperation and ambition. At the same time, we used the momentum of these events to advance the agendas of our six urgent challenges: energy, food, forests, water, cities and climate. This led to important results, including:

Andrew Steer

President and CEO
  • The Global Restoration Initiative succeeded beyond expectations, with Initiative 20x20 now on the way to restore 20 million hectares (50 million acres) of land in Latin America by 2020, while the Africa 100 (AFR 100) project drew participation by the African Union and 12 African states in a plan to restore 100 million hectares (250 million acres) by 2030. Both contributed to the Paris outcome, while drawing that momentum to accelerate participation in a way that might not have worked otherwise.
  • The Food Loss & Waste Protocol, an effort to develop a global accounting standard to determine how much food is wasted or lost, gained traction as a key factor in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. One example: the Consumer Goods Forum, which represents more than 400 companies in 70 countries, agreed to adopt the protocol and resolved to cut food waste in members’ facilities in half by 2025.
  • Global Forest Watch Climate, a new online platform released in Paris, shows how much carbon dioxide is being emitted from tropical deforestation around the globe, providing a benchmark to measure countries’ emissions and track progress toward their climate commitments.

WRI has continued to expand over the past year, now with more than 500 staff and experts working on five continents.

With growth and achievement comes the recognition that we need internal processes to ensure that we remain good stewards of the trust placed in us. To that end, we have improved management systems throughout our global networks, introducing a new global workflow system, integrated financial transactions and human resource management improvements. This year, all of our 80 managers received 360-degree feedback on their performance.

The impact of WRI’s programs in 2015 was only possible because of the generosity of our donors and collaboration with our partners. We are deeply grateful.

We invite you to learn more about our work in this report. We hope you will share your thoughts and suggestions and join our worldwide community of supporters and friends.

With our best regards,

James A. Harmon

Chairman of the Board

Andrew Steer

President and CEO

March 2015